Leeds Parliamentary Election Results
Representation of the People Act 1918 – All men over21 and women over 30 enfranchised Redistribution of the Seats Act 1918
1918 - 14th December
R. Armitage (Coalition Liberal) 11,474
Capt. E. Terry (Discharged Soldiers and Sailors) 2,634
J. Smith (Co-op) 2,146
Major A. C. Farquharson (Coalition Liberal) 13,863
G. H. Thompson (Labour) 3,423
H. F. Wyatt (National) 1,282
Major J. D. Birchall (Coalition Unionist) 14,450
J. Bromley (Labour) 4,680
Sir W. Middlebrook (Liberal) 10,609
F. Fountain (Labour) 5,510
J. Brook (Discharged Soldiers & Sailors) 1,377
J. O’Grady (Labour) *
[ * Returned unopposed. ]
J. Murray (Coalition Liberal) 12,642
J. Arnott (Labour) 6,020
H. Chapman (Independent) 1,138
D. T. Barnes (Liberal) 619
The election was held between the Armistice and the opening of the peace-making conference at Versailles. Lloyd George’s coalition government’s appeal to the nation was summed up in an advert in the Yorkshire Evening Post: ‘Vote for the Lloyd George men. They stand for victory, peace, no conscription, honouring the debt to our soldiers, making Germany pay, swift demobilisation and a new England.’ It became known as the ‘coupon election’ when Coalition candidates were given a letter or ‘coupon’ guaranteeing that no other coalition supporter would stand against them. In Leeds the Conservative candidate in Leeds North East received the coupon whilst the four Liberals standing in Leeds Central, North, South and West did likewise. In Leeds South East Labour was unopposed.
The campaign resonated well in Leeds as across the country. Lloyd George was swept to a landslide victory with 332 Conservatives combining with the 127 Coalition Liberals. With women over 30 now allowed to vote and all men over 21, the votes cast nationally amounted to 10,786,818 whilst in Leeds the electorate reached 191,015.
In Leeds boundary changes saw the old Leeds East disappear and two new constituencies introduced. In Leeds North East the Conservatives gained the seat when Birchall won for the Coalition Unionists whilst O’Grady was returned unopposed for Leeds South East. Generally the atmosphere in Leeds was resigned to the inevitable Coalition victory. In Leeds West the divisions in the Liberal Party could be seen when Murray the successful Liberal Coalition candidate was opposed by the Asquithian Liberal, Barnes. There was a turnout in the city of 48.09% and at the declaration of the results there was a relatively small crowd gathered in front of the Town Hall. One reason may well have been the raging flu pandemic that was sweeping the world at the time. The Leeds Weekly Citizen paused to reflect that, ‘Its effects touched every street and almost every home.’ It proved a sadly fatal epidemic. From October to the end of the year 1,132 people died in Leeds from the virus.