Reasons for the 1918 Election (British Politics 1918-1929) (Britain 1900-1951)

  • Created by: oanderton
  • Created on: 28-08-20 14:44


  • The Coalition won a large majority
  • This election was characterised by the 'coupons' given to Coalition candidates by Coalition leaders.
  • The Coalition continued because both LLoyd George and the Coservatives were dependant on one another for various reasons.
  • The Coalition won because they were able to create a unified front against the non-coalition opposition.
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1918 Election: Context

  • The first election since 1910
  • Majority of Conservatives wanted to carry on the coalition with Lloyd George, along with some Liberals.
  • Most Liberals supported Asquith and campaigned as an independent party.
  • Labour withdrew from the coalition and fought the election independently.
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Why did the Coalition continue?

  • Lloyd George wanted to maintain his power.
    • Had gained a great deal of power and prestige as wartime Prime Minister.
    • Had come about because of his alliance with the conservatives.
  • Conservatives were depended on Lloyd George.
    • Bonar Law was not as dynamic of a leader.
    • Few popular specific Conservative policies to attract the electorate.
  • The rise of the Labour party
    • Conservatives & Lloyd George both concerned about this.
    • Joining together would help to create a unified front against the new party.
  • Lloyd George had no party.
    • Split within the Liberals in 1916 meant he no longeer had a place in the Liberal party.
    • Was iscolated from the Liberals who supported him.
    • His only hope of staying in power would be to maintain his alliance with the Conservatives.
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Why Was it Called the Coupon Election?

  • Candidates who were backed by the coalition leaders received a letter stating that they were the official coalition candidate.
  • The letter was sarcastically called a coupon after the rationing coupons needed to buy some foods in the war
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Outcome of the Election

  • Coalition candidates won a large majority.
  • Conservatives outnumbered coalition Liberals.
  • Liberals were deeply divided
    • Total votes fairly evenly divided between the coalition and those not in the coalition.
    • Coalition Liberals won more seats.
  • Labour did not gain many more seats, but gained a lot more votes.
  • Coalition continued with Lloyd George at its head.
  • Sinn Fein won 73 seats but did not take them up.
    • Set up an independent Irish parliament which Britain did not accept.
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Why Did the Coalition Win?

  • 'Coupon' letters prevented a split within the Coalition vote.
    • Meant that Coalition Liberals were not opposed by Coalition Conservatives and vice versa.
  • Lloyd George used his personal prestige to urge Liberal voters to vote for Conservatives where there was no Coalition Liberal candidate.
  • Electoral pact increased coalition support.
    • Wider electoral support.
  • Asquith Liberals had no such advantageous pact with Labour.
  • Personal popularity of Lloyd George
    • Was very high in the aftermath of Britain's victory over Germany.
  • Success during the war.
    • Coalition had proved successful in meeting the demands of war.
    • After December 1916, it had also responded to domestic issues.
  • Promise of a better life.
    • Lloyd George promised a better life for Britons after the war.
    • Popular promise.
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ii. Why Did the Coalition Win?

  • Promise of harsh treatment of Germany.
    • Lloyd Georged promised harsh punishment of Germany.
    • Coalition Conservatives gained much support for their demands for punishment of Germany.
    • Popular policy.
  • Unpopular and unable ministers of Liberals and Labour.
    • Asquith had shown himself to be less than effective.
      • Faliures as wartime Prime Minister in the Asquith Coalition.
        • Shell crisis
        • Kitchener as Minister of War
    • Some of the labour leaders had not supported the war.
      • Made them unpopular.
    • Made worse by the fact that many of Asquith's faliures were corrected by Lloyd George as Minister of Munitions and the successes of his War Council
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iii. Why Did the Coalition Win?

  • Representation of the People Act 1918 had not yet come into effect.
    • Not all working class men could vote
      • Excluded many potential Labour supporters from voting.
    • Conservative candidates benefitted.
  • Non Coalition candidates were divided 
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What Were the Consequences of the Coupon Election?

  • Lloyd George was dependent on Conservative support for power.
  • Over 260 new MPs
  • The Commons represented the different economic interests of Britain more than previously
    • Conservatives: businessmen, industrialists
    • Labour: trade unionists
  • Some new MPs were more difficult to control.
    • Were from a business background.
    • Had little time for many of the traditional political ideas and leaders.
  • Irish Sinn Fein MPs were determined not to attend Westminister.
    • Had set up an independent Irish parliament which Britain did not accept.
    • Had refused to take up their seats as a result.
    • Presented a challenge to Britain.
    • Resulted in a protracted period of violent conflict in Ireland.
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ii. What Were the Consequences of the Coupon Elect

Decline of the Liberal party.

  • Split proved fatal for the future of the party
  • Rise ln Labour's popular vote and their decision to be an independent party were signs of the rise of Labour to become the main party of opposition in the Commons
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