PEACE BALLOT 1935 IN SUPPORT OF THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS
1934 – 1935 October to June – Polling carried out
1935 - 28 June – Declaration announced
votes cast 12,000,000
votes to support the League of Nations 11,000,000
percentage sampled 37.9%
Locations visited 120,000 –130,000
Responses received 150,000
percentage to support the League of Nations 90%
The League of Nations Union put forward the declaration by the National Declaration Committee of five questions to the general public known as the Peace Ballot. Voting commenced in October 1934 with results announced on 28 June 1935. The Leeds Branch National Declaration Committee, chaired by David Beevers of the Labour Party, and based at York House in Park Street, organised things in the city. Committees were set up in the twenty-six wards in Leeds. Between 120,000 and 130,000 houses were visited by some 2,000 volunteers. Sometimes it required five or six visits to a house to complete the task with retired teachers and Post Office workers mainly used to count the votes.
Opinion in the city was divided with Osbert Peake, Conservative National Government MP for Leeds North, speaking in Headingley saying that the ballot was an attempt to discredit the Government’s foreign policy. He went on to say, ‘The greatest security for the peace in the world was a British Empire which was able and willing to defend itself if necessary.’ Meanwhile Vyvyan Adams, the Conservative National Government MP for Leeds West, wrote to the Yorkshire Post strongly supporting the campaign. ‘Indifference on these five issues seems to me both stupid and suicidal.’
The overall result showed resounding support for the League of Nations. It was seen as a ringing assertion for support of collective security with a more hesitant support even for war. It was said to be a high point of support for the League. However in a letter to the Yorkshire Post E. H. Baxter of South Cave wrote, ‘All that the Peace Ballot has done is to inform other nations that only about one-fifth of the British electorate are prepared to enforce the decisions of the League of Nations by war.’ For further reading see The Times, 12 October 1934, Yorkshire Evening Post, 20 November 1934 Yorkshire Post, 6, 9 February, 28 June, 7 November 1935.