1918 United Kingdom general election

The 1918 United Kingdom general election was called immediately after the Armistice with Germany which ended the First World War, and was held on Saturday, 14 December 1918. The governing coalition, under Prime Minister David Lloyd George, sent letters of endorsement to candidates who supported the coalition government. These were nicknamed "Coalition Coupons", and led to the election being known as the "coupon election". The result was a massive landslide in favour of the coalition, comprising primarily the Conservatives and Coalition Liberals, with massive losses for Liberals who were not endorsed.[1] Nearly all the Liberal MPs without coupons were defeated, including party leader H. H. Asquith.[2]

1918 United Kingdom general election

 Dec 1910 14 December 1918 1922 

All 707 seats in the House of Commons
354 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Bonar Law David Lloyd George Éamon de Valera
Party Conservative National Liberal Sinn Féin
Leader since 13 November 1911 7 December 1916 1917
Leader's seat Glasgow Central Caernarvon Boroughs East Clare;
East Mayo[lower-alpha 1]
Last election 271 seats, 46.6% Did not contest Did not contest
Seats won 379 127 73[lower-alpha 2]
Seat change 108 127 73
Popular vote 4,003,848 1,396,590 476,458
Percentage 38.4% 13.4% 4.6%
Swing 8.2% New party New party

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Leader William Adamson H. H. Asquith John Dillon
Party Labour Liberal Irish Parliamentary
Leader since 24 October 1917 30 April 1908 6 March 1918
Leader's seat West Fife East Fife (defeated) East Mayo (defeated)
Last election 42 seats, 6.4% 272 seats, 44.2% 74 seats, 2.5%
Seats won 57 36 7
Seat change 15 236 67
Popular vote 2,171,230 1,355,398 226,498
Percentage 20.8% 13.0% 2.2%
Swing 14.5% 31.2% 0.3

Colours denote the winning party

Composition of the House of Commons after the 1918 General Election

Prime Minister before election

David Lloyd George
National Liberal

Prime Minister after election

David Lloyd George
National Liberal

It was the first general election to include on a single day all eligible voters of the United Kingdom, although the vote count was delayed until 28 December so that the ballots cast by soldiers serving overseas could be included in the tallies.[3]

It resulted in a landslide victory for the coalition government of David Lloyd George, who had replaced H. H. Asquith as Prime Minister in December 1916. They were both Liberals and continued to battle for control of the party, which was rapidly losing popular support and never regained power.[4]

It was the first general election to be held after enactment of the Representation of the People Act 1918. It was thus the first election in which women over the age of 30, and all men over the age of 21, could vote. Previously, all women and many poor men had been excluded from voting. Women generally supported the coalition candidates.[5][6]

It was the first parliamentary election in which women were able to stand as candidates following the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918, believed to be one of the shortest Acts of Parliament ever given Royal Assent. The Act was passed shortly before Parliament was dissolved. It followed a report by Law Officers that the Great Reform Act 1832 had specified parliamentary candidates had to be male and that the Representation of the People Act passed earlier in the year did not change that. One woman, Nina Boyle, had already presented herself for a by-election earlier in the year in Keighley but had been turned down by the returning officer on technical grounds.[7]

The election was also noted for the dramatic result in Ireland, which showed clear disapproval of government policy. The Irish Parliamentary Party were almost completely wiped out by the Irish republican party Sinn Féin, who vowed in their manifesto to establish an independent Irish Republic. They refused to take their seats in Westminster, instead forming a breakaway government and declaring Irish independence. The Irish War of Independence began soon after the election. Because of the resulting partition of Ireland, this was the last United Kingdom general election to include the entire island of Ireland.

Numbers and names of Members returned

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