Leeds Parliamentary Election Results
Reform Bill of 1867 – Leeds granted three seats
1868 - 17th November
E. Baines Jr (Liberal) 15,941
R. M. Carter (Liberal Radical) 15,105
W. Wheelhouse (Conservative) 9,437
Sir A. Fairbairn (Ind. Liberal) 5,658
Admiral A. Duncombe (Conservative) 5,621
The Reform Bill of 1867 extended the electorate to skilled workers which meant that the number of votes cast rose from 854,856 in 1865 to 2,333,251. It also granted Leeds three seats but voters, however, still only had two votes. Gladstone’s Liberal Party was victorious wining 387 seats to the Conservatives 271. The Liberals dedicated to peace, economy and reform now had a majority of 116.
In Leeds the Liberal Party was split when it selected Edward Baines Jr and Robert Meek Carter, a Liberal Radical. Sir Andrew Fairbairn objected and decided to stand as an Independent Liberal opposed to Radical politics. During the campaign Carter called a meeting solely of Irishmen in the Temperance Hall in St Peter’s Street at which he condemned the British Government’s treatment of the Irish, bitterly criticised the Irish Church and attacked landlordism. Fairbairn, whose agents were accused of using unfair tactics, tended to concentrate on the main issues of the day and at his meeting in working-class Hunslet went on to argue that a great deal needed doing for the working classes.
The Yorkshire Post reported that ‘Partizan feeling was unquestionably highly excited in the borough’ but claimed that what indiscipline there was came from the Liberals. The declaration at the Town Hall was an impressive affair. In front of the specially erected platform in front of the building, a line of policeman stood holding torches ‘the fitful play of light from these flambeaux had a very pretty effect’.