Leeds Parliamentary Election Results


1900 - 4th October

G. W. Balfour (Conservative) 4,144
Sir S. Montagu (Liberal) 3,042

H. S. Cautley (Conservative) 3,453
R. Maguire (Liberal) 1,586
W. P. Byles (Ind. Liberal) 1,266

W. L. Jackson (Conservative) 7,512 *
J. C. Hamilton (Liberal) 4,995
[ * Raised to the peerage July 1902. ]

J. L. Walton (Liberal) 4,952
R. J. Neville (Conservative) 4,718

H. J. Gladstone ( Liberal) 7,043
T. W. Harding (Liberal Unionist) 6,522


This was the famous ‘Khaki Election’ fought during the Boer War. Salisbury’s Conservatives with 335 seats combined with the Liberal Unionists 67 were successful but their majority went down with the Liberals securing 183 seats. Before the election the Yorkshire Post’s editorial hailed, ‘Vote for Empire and Liberty’ and went on that ‘The five unionist candidates are the representatives of the national feeling, and their election is imperative if Leeds is to demonstrate to the world that she is in favour of Constitutional Government...[that] alone can settle the momentous question of South Africa’s future.’

In Leeds the Unionists had to be happy with just one seat changing hands when Cautley won Leeds East. The Liberals there were acrimoniously divided with Byles saying he would prefer a Conservative victory to a Maguire win and some violence was reported by some of Byles’s supporters. Many Liberal voters were so disgusted at the party divisions in the constituency they abstained.

The Liberals feared they might also lose Leeds South but in fact Walton increased his majority by 73 votes. The Tories made a particular effort to win in Leeds West. There Walter Harding, standing as a Liberal Unionist,  defended the Boer War claiming the war had been forced on Britain by ‘the folly of Mr Kruger’. Gladstone, however, went on to increase his majority by 425. This was the first significant use of motor cars for campaigning in the city as in many other places.