United Kingdom general election, 1880

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United Kingdom general election, 1880
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
← 1874 31 March – 27 April 1880 (1880-03-31 – 1880-04-27)[1] 1885 →

All 652 seats in the House of Commons
327 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  Photo of Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire.jpg Illustrirtes Konversations-Lexikon; vergleichendes Nachschlagebuch für den täglichen Gebrauch. Hausschatz für das deutsche Volk und "Orbis pictus" für die studirende Jugend (1870) (14781283621).jpg No image.svg
Leader Marquess of Hartington Earl of Beaconsfield William Shaw
Party Liberal Conservative Home Rule
Leader since January 1875 27 February 1868 May 1879
Leader's seat North East Lancashire House of Lords County Cork
Last election 242 seats, 52.0% 350 seats, 44.3% 60 seats, 3.7%
Seats won 352 237 63
Seat change Increase110 Decrease113 Increase3
Popular vote 1,836,423 1,426,351 95,535
Percentage 54.7% 42.5% 2.8%
Swing Increase2.7% Decrease1.8% Decrease0.9%

United Kingdom general election 1880.svg
Colours denote the winning party

Prime Minister before election

Earl of Beaconsfield
Conservative

Appointed Prime Minister

William Ewart Gladstone
Liberal

The 1880 United Kingdom general election was a general election in the United Kingdom held from 31 March to 27 April 1880.

Intense rhetoric of the election was provided by the Midlothian campaign of the Liberals, led by the fierce oratory of Liberal leader William Ewart Gladstone.[2] Gladstone vehemently attacked the foreign policy of the government of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, as utterly immoral.

The Liberals secured one of their largest-ever majorities in the election, leaving the Conservatives a distant second, as a result of the campaign, the Liberal leaders, Lord Hartington and Lord Granville, withdrew in favour of Gladstone, who thus became Prime Minister a second time.

Results summary[edit]

UK General Election 1880
Candidates Votes
Party Stood Elected Gained Unseated Net % of total % Net %
  Liberal 499 352 +110 53.99 54.66 1,836,423 +2.7
  Conservative 521 237 −113 36.35 42.46 1,426,351 −1.8
  Home Rule 81 63 +3 9.66 2.84 95,535 −0.9
  Independent 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.03 1,107 0

Voting summary[edit]

Popular vote
Liberal
54.66%
Conservative
42.46%
Home Rule
2.84%
Others
0.03%

Seats summary[edit]

Parliamentary seats
Liberal
53.99%
Conservative
36.35%
Home Rule
9.66%

Issues[edit]

The Conservative government was doomed by the poor condition of the British economy and the vulnerability of its foreign policy to moralistic attacks by the Liberals. Gladstone, appealing to moralistic evangelicals, led the attack on the foreign policy of Disraeli (now known as Lord Beaconsfield) as immoral.[3] Historian Paul Smith paraphrases the rhetorical tone which focused on attacking "Beaconsfieldism" (in Smith's words) as a:

Sinister system of policy, which not merely involved the country in immoral, vainglorious and expensive external adventures, inimical to peace and to the rights of small peoples, but aimed at nothing less than the subversion of parliamentary government in favour of some simulacrum of the oriental despotism its creator was alleged to admire.[4]

Smith notes that there was indeed some substance to the allegations, but: "Most of this was partisan extravaganza, worthy of its target's own excursions against the Whigs."[5]

Crowds wait outside Leeds Town Hall to hear the result

Disraeli himself was now the Earl of Beaconsfield in the House of Lords, and custom did not allow peers to campaign, his party was unable to deal effectively with the rhetorical onslaught. Although he had improved the organisation of the Conservative Party, Disraeli was firmly based in the rural gentry, and had little contact with or understanding of the urban middle class that was increasingly dominating his party. Besides issues of foreign policy, even more important thing Conservatives were unable to effectively defend their economic record on the home front, the 1870s coincided with a long term global depression caused by the collapse of the worldwide railway boom of the 1870s which previously had been so profitable to Britain. The stress was growing by the late 1870s; prices fell, profits fell, employment fell, and there was downward pressure on wage rates that cause much hardship among the industrial working class. The free trade system supported by both parties made Britain defenseless against the flood of cheap wheat from North America, which was exacerbated by the worst harvest of the century in Britain in 1879, the party in power got the blame, and Liberals repeatedly emphasised the growing budget deficit as a measure of bad stewardship. In the election itself, Disraeli's party lost heavily up and down the line, especially in Scotland and Ireland, and in the urban boroughs, his Conservative strength fell from 351 to 238, while the Liberals jump from 250 to 353. Disraeli resigned on 21 April 1880.[6]

Regional results[edit]

Great Britain[edit]

Largest party in each constituent country
Largest party in each constituent country
Party Seats Seats change Votes % % change
Liberal 337 +105 1,780,171 57.3 +1.9
Conservative 214 −105 1,326,744 42.7 −1.9
Other 0 Same position 1,107 0.04 +0.04
Total 551 3,108,022 100

England[edit]

Party Seats Seats change Votes % % change
Liberal 254 +83 1,519,576 56.2 +2.4
Conservative 197 −83 1,205,990 43.7 −2.5
Other 0 Same position 1,107 0.1 +0.1
Total 451 2,726,673 100

Scotland[edit]

Party Seats Seats change Votes % % change
Liberal 52 +12 195,517 70.1 +1.7
Conservative 6 −12 74,145 29.9 −1.7
Total 58 269,662 100

Wales[edit]

Party Seats Seats change Votes % % change
Liberal 29 +10 50,403 58.8 −2.1
Conservative 4 −10 41,106 41.2 +2.1
Total 33 100,509 100

Ireland[edit]

Party Seats Seats change Votes % % change
Home Rule 63 +3 95,535 37.5 −2.1%
Irish Conservative 24 −8 99,607 39.8 +1.0%
Liberal 15 +5 56,252 22.7 +4.3%
Total 101 251,394 100

Universities[edit]

Party Seats Seats change Votes % % change
Conservative 7 5,503 49.2
Liberal 2 5,675 50.8
Total 9 11,178 100

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ "Data" (PDF), parliament.uk 
  2. ^ Fitzsimons 1960, pp. 187–201.
  3. ^ Matthew 1997, pp. 293–312.
  4. ^ Smith 1996, pp. 198–99.
  5. ^ Smith 1996, p. 199.
  6. ^ Smith 1996, pp. 202–3; Blake 1967, pp. 707–13, 717.

Sources[edit]

  • Blake, Robert (1967), Disraeli [publisher missing]
  • Craig, F. W. S. (1989), British Electoral Facts: 1832–1987, Dartmouth: Gower, ISBN 0900178302 
  • Fitzsimons, M.A. (1960), "Midlothian: the Triumph and Frustration of the British Liberal Party", Review of Politics, 22 (2), JSTOR 1405317 
  • Matthew, H. C. G. (1997), Gladstone: 1809–1898 [publisher missing]
  • Rallings, Colin; Thrasher, Michael, eds. (2000), British Electoral Facts 1832–1999, Ashgate Publishing Ltd 
  • Smith, Paul (1996), Disraeli: A Brief Life, Cambridge UP 

External links[edit]