United Kingdom general election, 1918

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United Kingdom general election, 1918

← Dec 1910 14 December 1918 1922 →

All 707 seats in the House of Commons
354 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 57.2%
  First party Second party Third party
  Andrew Bonar Law 01.jpg LloydGeorge.jpg Éamon de Valera.jpg
Leader Bonar Law David Lloyd George Éamon de Valera
Party Conservative Coalition Liberal Sinn Féin
Leader since 1911 7 December 1916 1917
Leader's seat Glasgow Central Caernarvon Boroughs East Mayo
Last election 271 seats, 46.6% Did not contest Did not contest
Seats won 382 127 73[a]
Seat change Increase111 Increase127 Increase73
Popular vote 4,003,848 1,396,590 476,458
Percentage 38.4% 13.4% 4.6%
Swing Decrease8.2% New party New party

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
  Cropped photograph of William Adamson.jpg The mirrors of Downing street; some political reflections (1921) (14595514940).jpg Geo. N. Barnes LCCN2014708351.tif
Leader William Adamson H. H. Asquith George Barnes
Party Labour Liberal National Democratic
Leader since 24 October 1917 30 April 1908 1918
Leader's seat West Fife East Fife (defeated) Glasgow Gorbals
Last election 42 seats, 6.4% 272 seats, 44.2% Did not contest
Seats won 57 36 9
Seat change Increase15 Decrease236 Increase9
Popular vote 2,171,230 1,355,398 156,834
Percentage 20.8% 13.0% 1.3%
Swing Increase14.5% Decrease31.2% New party

UK General Election, 1918.png
Colours denote the winning party—as shown in § Results

Prime Minister before election

David Lloyd George
Coalition Liberal

Appointed Prime Minister

David Lloyd George
Coalition Liberal

The 1918 United Kingdom general election was called immediately after the Armistice with Germany which ended the First World War, and was held on Saturday 14 December 1918. It was the first general election to be held on a single day, although the vote count did not take place until 28 December due to the time taken to transport votes from soldiers serving overseas.

It resulted in a landslide victory for the coalition government of David Lloyd George, who had replaced H. H. Asquith as Prime Minister in December 1916 during the war.

It was the first general election to be held after the Representation of the People Act 1918. It was thus the first election in which women over the age of 30, and all men over the age of 21, could vote. Previously, all women and many poor men had been excluded from voting.

The election was also noted for the dramatic result in Ireland, which showed clear disapproval of government policy, the Irish Parliamentary Party were almost completely wiped out by the hardline Sinn Féin republicans, who refused to take their seats in Westminster, instead sitting in the First Dáil. The Irish War of Independence began soon after the election.

Background[edit]

Lloyd George's coalition government was supported by the majority of the Liberals and Bonar Law's Conservatives. However, the election saw a split in the Liberal Party between those who were aligned with Lloyd George and the government and those who were aligned with Asquith, the party's official leader.

On 14 November it was announced that Parliament, which had been sitting since 1910 and had been extended by emergency wartime action, would dissolve on 25 November, with elections on 14 December.[1]

Following confidential negotiations over the summer of 1918, it was agreed that certain candidates were to be offered the support of the Prime Minister and the leader of the Conservative Party at the next general election. To these candidates a letter, known as the Coalition Coupon, was sent, indicating the government's endorsement of their candidacy. 159 Liberal, 364 Conservative, 20 National Democratic and Labour, and 2 Coalition Labour candidates received the coupon. For this reason the election was sometimes known as the Coupon Election.

80 Conservative candidates stood without a coupon. Of these, 35 candidates were Irish Unionists. Of the other non-couponed Conservative candidates, only 23 stood against a Coalition candidate; the remaining 22 candidates stood in areas where there were no coupons, or refused the offer of a coupon.[2]

The Labour Party, led by William Adamson, fought the election independently, as did those Liberals who did not receive a coupon.

The election was not chiefly fought over what peace to make with Germany, although those issues played a role. More important was the voters' evaluation of Lloyd George in terms of what he had accomplished so far and what he promised for the future, his supporters emphasised that he had won the Great War. Against his strong record in social legislation, he called for making "a country fit for heroes to live in".[3]

This election was known as a khaki election, due to the immediate postwar setting and the role of the demobilised soldiers.

Coalition victory[edit]

The coalition won the election easily, with the Conservatives the big winners, they were the largest party in the governing majority. Lloyd George remained Prime Minister, despite the Conservatives outnumbering his pro-coalition Liberals.

An additional 47 Conservatives, 23 of whom were Irish Unionists, won without the coupon but did not act as a separate block or oppose the government except on the issue of Irish independence.

While most of the pro-coalition Liberals were re-elected, Asquith's faction was reduced to just 36 seats and lost all their leaders from parliament; Asquith himself lost his own seat. Nine of these MPs subsequently joined the Coalition Liberal group.

The Labour Party greatly increased its vote share, surpassing the total votes of either Liberal party. However, they only slightly increased their number of seats, and lost some of their earlier leaders like Ramsay MacDonald and Arthur Henderson. Labour won the most seats in Wales (which had previously been dominated by the Liberals) for the first time, a feat it has continued to the present day.

The Conservative MPs included record numbers of corporate directors, bankers and businessmen, while Labour MPs were mostly from the working class. Many young veterans reacted against the harsh tone of the campaign and became disillusioned with politics.[4]

Ireland[edit]

In Ireland, the Irish Parliamentary Party lost almost all their seats, most of which were won by Sinn Féin under Éamon de Valera. The 73 Sinn Féin elected members declined to take their seats in the British House of Commons, sitting instead in the Irish revolutionary assembly, the Dáil Éireann, on 17 May 1918 almost the entire leadership of Sinn Féin, including de Valera and Arthur Griffith, had been arrested. In total 47 of the Sinn Féin MPs were elected from jail, the Dáil first convened on 21 January 1919, which marks the beginning of the Irish War of Independence.

Constance Markievicz became the first woman elected to Parliament. She was a Sinn Féin member elected for Dublin St Patrick's, and like the other Sinn Féin MPs, she did not take her seat.

Results[edit]

Seats by party[edit]

382 127 73 57 36 35
Conservative Coal Lib SF Lab Lib O
UK General Election 1918
Candidates Votes
Party Leader Stood Elected Gained Unseated Net % of total % No. Net %
Coalition Government[b]
  Conservative Bonar Law 445 382 +111 54.0 38.4 4,003,848 −8.2
  Coalition Liberal David Lloyd George 145 127 +127 18.0 12.6 1,318,844 N/A
  Coalition National Democratic George Nicoll Barnes 18 9 +9 1.3 1.5 156,834 N/A
  Coalition Labour N/A 5 4 +4 0.1 0.4 40,641 N/A
  Coalition Independent N/A 1 1 +1 0.1 0.1 9,274 N/A
Coalition Government (total) David Lloyd George 614 523 +249 74.0 53.0 5,529,441 +6.4
Non-Coalition parties
  Labour William Adamson 361 57 +15 8.1 20.8 2,171,230 +14.5
  Liberal H. H. Asquith 277 36 −236 5.1 13.0 1,355,398 −31.2
  Sinn Féin Éamon de Valera 102 73 +73 10.3 4.6 476,458 N/A
  Irish Parliamentary John Dillon 57 7 −67 1.0 2.2 226,498 −0.3
  Independent Labour N/A 29 2 +2 0.3 1.1 116,322 +1.0
  Independent N/A 42 2 +2 0.3 1.0 105,261 +1.0
  National Henry Page Croft 26 2 +2 0.3 0.9 94,389 N/A
  Independent NFDSS James Hogge 30 0 0 0.0 0.6 58,164 N/A
  Co-operative Party William Henry Watkins 10 1 +1 0.1 0.6 57,785 N/A
  Independent Conservative N/A 17 1 0 0.1 0.4 44,637 +0.3
  Labour Unionist Edward Carson 3 3 +3 0.4 0.3 30,304 N/A
  Independent Liberal N/A 8 0 0 0.1 0.2 24,985 +0.2
  Agriculturalist Edward Mials Nunneley 7 0 0 0.0 0.2 19,412 N/A
  National Democratic George Nicoll Barnes 8 0 0 0.0 0.2 17,991 N/A
  NFDSS James Hogge 5 0 0 0.0 0.1 12,329 N/A
  Belfast Labour N/A 4 0 0 0.0 0.1 12,164 N/A
  National Socialist Party H. M. Hyndman 3 1 +1 0.1 0.1 11,013 N/A
  Highland Land League N/A 4 0 0 0.0 0.1 8,710 N/A
  Women's Party Christabel Pankhurst 1 0 0 0.0 0.1 8,614 N/A
  British Socialist Party Albert Inkpin 3 0 0 0.0 0.1 8,394 N/A
  Independent Democratic N/A 4 0 0 0.0 0.1 8,351 N/A
  NADSS James Howell 1 1 +1 0.1 0.1 8,287 N/A
  Independent Nationalist N/A 6 0 0 0.0 0.1 8,183 +0.1
  Socialist Labour Tom Bell 3 0 0 0.0 0.1 7,567 N/A
  Scottish Prohibition Edwin Scrymgeour 1 0 0 0.0 0.0 5,212 N/A
  Independent Progressive N/A 3 0 0 0.0 0.0 5,077 N/A
  Ind. Labour and Agriculturalist N/A 1 0 0 0.0 0.0 1,927 N/A
  Christian Socialist N/A 1 0 0 0.0 0.0 597 N/A

Votes summary[edit]

Popular vote
Conservative
38.4%
Coalition Liberal
12.6%
Coalition National Democratic
1.5%
Coalition Labour
0.4%
Coalition Independent
0.1%
All Coalition parties
53.0%
Labour
20.8%
Liberal
13.0%
Sinn Féin
4.6%
Irish Parliamentary
2.2%
Independent
1.0%
Others
3.2%

Seats summary[edit]

Parliamentary seats
Conservative
54.03%
Coalition Liberal
17.96%
Coalition National Democratic
1.27%
Coalition Labour
0.57%
Coalition Independent
0.14%
All Coalition parties
73.97%
Labour
8.06%
Liberal
5.09%
Sinn Féin
10.33%
Irish Parliamentary
0.99%
Independent
0.28%
Others
1.27%

Maps[edit]

Transfers of seats[edit]

  • All comparisons are with the December 1910 election.
    • In some cases the change is due to the MP defecting to the gaining party. Such circumstances are marked with a *.
    • In other circumstances the change is due to the seat having been won by the gaining party in a by-election in the intervening years, and then retained in 1918. Such circumstances are marked with a †.
From To No. Seats
Labour Labour (HOLD) Burslem (replaced Staffordshire North West), Deptford, Plaistow (replaced West Ham South), Woolwich East (replaced Woolwich)
Coalition Labour Norwich (1 of 2), Stockport (1 of 2)
Coalition National Democratic Hanley
Liberal
National Liberal
Conservative Bow and Bromley†, Nuneaton
Sinn Féin Nationalist
abolished
Nationalist Nationalist
abolished
Lib-Lab Coalition Liberal Battersea North (replaced Battersea)
Liberal Labour Forest of Dean, Leek, Wellingborough (replaced Northamptonshire Mid)
National Democratic Walthamstow W (replaced Walthamstow)
Liberal (HOLD) Bermondsey West (replaced Bermondsey), Camborne, Cornwall North (replaced Launceston), Newcastle-under-Lyme, Norwich (1 of 2), Saffron Walden, Whitechapel and St Georges (replaced Whitechapel), Wolverhampton East
National Liberal Banbury, Barnstaple, Bedford, Bethnal Green NE, Bristol East, Bristol North, Bristol South, Cambridgeshire (replaced Chesterton), Crewe, Dartford, Dorset East, Eye, Hackney Central, Isle of Ely (replaced Wisbech), Kennington, Lichfield, Stepney Limehouse (replaced Limehouse), Lowestoft, Luton, Norfolk South, Norfolk South West, Northampton (1 of 2), Peckham, Poplar South (replaced Poplar), Romford, St Ives, Shoreditch (replaced Hoxton), South Molton, Southampton (both seats), Southwark Central (replaced Newington West), Southwark North (replaced Southwark West), Southwark South East (replaced Walworth), Stockport (1 of 2), Stoke-upon-Trent, Stroud, Thornbury, Wellington (Salop)
Coalition Independent Norfolk North
Independent Hackney South
Conservative Bedfordshire Mid (replaced Biggleswade), Bethnal Green South-West†, Buckingham, Camberwell North, Cheltenham†, Coventry, Exeter†, Frome, Gillingham (replaced Rochester), Ipswich (1 of 2)†, Islington East, Islington South, Islington West, Macclesfield, Norfolk East, Northwich, Peterborough, Reading†, Rotherhithe, St Pancras North, Stafford, Swindon (replaced Cricklade), Tottenham South (replaced Tottenham), Upton (replaced West Ham North), Westbury, Yeovil (replaced Somerset Southern)†
abolished Finsbury East, Haggerston, Hyde, Ipswich (1 of 2), Newmarket, Norfolk North West, Northampton (1 of 2), Northamptonshire East, St Austell, St George, Tower Hamlets, St Pancras East, Stepney, Truro, Worcestershire North
Speaker Liberal
Liberal Unionist Conservative Aylesbury*, Birmingham West*, Bodmin*, Burton*, Birmingham Handsworth*, Hythe*, Ludlow*, Portsmouth North (replaced 1 of 2 Portsmouth seats)*, Stepney Mile End (replaced Mile End)*, Birmingham Sparkbrook (replaced Birmingham South)*, Stone (replaced Staffordshire West)*, Torquay*, Totnes*, Westminster St George's (replaced St George, Hanover Square)*
abolished Ashburton, Birmingham Central, Birmingham North, Birmingham Bordesley, Droitwich, Norfolk Mid, Ross, Somerset Eastern, Worcestershire East
Conservative Communist
Labour Kettering (replaced Northamptonshire North), Kingswinford, Wednesbury, West Bromwich
Liberal Lambeth North, Weston-super-Mare (replaced Somerset Northern)
Coalition Liberal Sudbury
Conservative (HOLD) Abingdon, Altrincham, Ashford, Birmingham Aston (replaced Aston Manor), Basingstoke, Bath (1 of 2), Bewdley, Bilston (replaced Wolverhampton South), Birkenhead East (replaced Birkenhead), Brentford and Chiswick (replaced Brentford), Bridgwater, Brighton (both seats), Bristol West, Brixton, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Chatham, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Chertsey, Chester, Chichester, Chippenham, Cirencester and Tewkesbury (replaced Tewkesbury), Clapham, Colchester, Croydon South (replaced Croydon), Daventry (replaced Northamptonshire South), Devizes, Plymouth Devonport (replaced 1 of 2 Devonport seats), Dorset North, Dorset South, Dorset West, Dover, Plymouth Drake (replaced 1 of 2 Plymouth seats), Dudley, Dulwich, Ealing, East Grinstead, Eastbourne, Eddisbury, Birmingham Edgbaston, Enfield, Epping, Epsom, Birmingham Erdington (replaced Birmingham East), Essex South East, Evesham, Fareham, Faversham, Finsbury (replaced Finsbury Central), Fulham East (replaced Fulham), Gloucester, Gravesend, Great Yarmouth, Greenwich, Guildford, Hackney North, Hammersmith South (replaced Hammersmith), Hampstead, Harrow, Harwich, Hastings, Henley, Hereford, Hitchin, Holborn, Honiton, Hornsey, Horsham and Worthing (replaced Horsham), Huntingdonshire (replaced Huntingdon), Isle of Thanet, Isle of Wight, Islington North, Kensington North, Kensington South, Kidderminster, King's Lynn, Kingston upon Thames, Knutsford, Leominster, Lewes, Lewisham West (replaced Lewisham), City of London (both seats), Maidstone, Maldon, New Forest & Christchurch (replaced New Forest), Newbury, Norwood, Oswestry, Oxford, Paddington North, Paddington South, Penryn and Falmouth, Petersfield, Portsmouth South (replaced 1 of 2 Portsmouth seats), Reigate, Rugby, Rye, St Albans, St Marylebone (replaced Marylebone West), St Pancras South East (replaced St Pancras South), St Pancras South West (replaced St Pancras West), Salisbury, Sevenoaks, Shrewsbury, Stalybridge and Hyde (replaced Stalybridge), Plymouth Sutton (replaced 1 of 2 Plymouth seats), Tamworth, Taunton, Tavistock, Tiverton, Tonbridge (replaced Tunbridge), Uxbridge, Wandsworth Central (replaced Wandsworth), Warwick and Leamington, Watford, Wells, Westminster Abbey (replaced Westminster), Wimbledon, Winchester, Windsor, Wirral, Wolverhampton West, Woodbridge, Worcester, Wycombe
National Bournemouth (replaced Christchurch)†, Walsall
Silver Badge Hertford
abolished Andover, Bath (1 of 2), Cirencester, Devonport (1 of 2), Marylebone East, Medway, Newport (Shropshire), Ramsey, St Augustine's, Stowmarket, Strand, Stratford upon Avon, Wellington (Somerset), Wilton, Wokingham, Woodstock
Independent Conservative Conservative Canterbury
UUP UUP
abolished
Irish Unionist abolished
Seat created Labour Smethwick
Coalition Labour Cannock
National Socialist Party Silvertown
National Democratic Birmingham Duddeston, East Ham South
Liberal Portsmouth Central, Stourbridge
Coalition Liberal Camberwell North-West, East Ham North, Leyton East
Conservative Acton, Aldershot, Balham and Tooting, Battersea South, Birkenhead West, Bristol Central, Bromley, Chislehurst, Croydon North, Birmingham Deritend, Edmonton, Farnham, Finchley, Fulham West, Hammersmith North, Hemel Hempstead, Hendon, Ilford, Birmingham King's Norton, Birmingham Ladywood, Lewisham East, Leyton West, Mitcham, Birmingham Moseley, Putney, Richmond (Surrey), Southend, Spelthorne, Stoke Newington, Stratford, Streatham, Surrey East, Tottenham North, Twickenham, Wallasey, Walthamstow East, Willesden East, Willesden West, Wood Green, Woolwich West, Birmingham Yardley
UUP

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Sinn Féin MPs did not take their seats in the House of Commons, and instead formed the Dáil Éireann.
  2. ^ The Conservative total includes 47 Conservative candidates elected without the Coalition Coupon, of whom 23 were Irish Unionists.
  3. ^ All parties shown.

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Mowat 1955, p. 3.
  2. ^ McEwen 1962, p. 295.
  3. ^ Taylor 1976, pp. 127–128.
  4. ^ Mowat 1955, p. 9.
  5. ^ [1][dead link]

Sources[edit]

  • Craig, F. W. S. (1989), British Electoral Facts: 1832–1987, Dartmouth: Gower, ISBN 0900178302 
  • McEwen, J. M. (1962), "The Coupon Election of 1918 and Unionist Members of Parliament", Journal of Modern History, 34 (3): 294–306, JSTOR 1874358 
  • Mowat, Charles Loch (1955), Britain between the wars, 1918–1940, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 2–9 
  • Taylor, A. J. P. (1976), English History, 1914–1945, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 127–128, ISBN 0198217153 

Further reading[edit]

  • Ball, Stuart R. (1982), "Asquith's Decline and the General Election of 1918", Scottish Historical Review, 61 (171): 44–61, JSTOR 25529447 
  • Turner, John (1992), British Politics and the Great War: Coalition and Conflict, 1915–1918, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 317–333, 391–436, ISBN 0300050461, covers the campaign as well as a statistical analysis of the vote 
  • Wilson, Trevor (1964), "The Coupon and the British General Election of 1918", Journal of Modern History, 36 (1): 28–42, JSTOR 1874424 

External links[edit]