1923 United Kingdom general election

The 1923 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 6 December 1923.[1] The Conservatives, led by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, won the most seats, but Labour, led by Ramsay MacDonald, and H. H. Asquith's reunited Liberal Party gained enough seats to produce a hung parliament. It is the most recent UK general election in which a third party won over 100 seats (158 for the Liberals) and the most narrow gap, of a "mere" 100 seats, between the first and third parties since. The Liberals' percentage of the vote, 29.7%, has not been exceeded by a third party at any general election since.

1923 United Kingdom general election

← 1922 6 December 1923 1924 →

All 615 seats in the House of Commons
308 seats needed for a majority
Turnout71.1%, Decrease 1.9 pp
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Stanley Baldwin Ramsay MacDonald H. H. Asquith
Party Conservative Labour Liberal
Leader since 23 May 1923 21 November 1922 30 April 1908
Leader's seat Bewdley Aberavon Paisley
Last election 344 seats, 38.5% 142 seats, 29.7% 115 seats, 28.8%[a]
Seats won 258 191 158[note 1]
Seat change Decrease 86 Increase 49 Increase 43
Popular vote 5,286,159 4,267,831 4,129,922
Percentage 38.0% 30.7% 29.7%
Swing Decrease 0.5 pp Increase 1.0 pp Increase 0.9 pp

Colours denote the winning party—as shown in § Results

Composition of the House of Commons following the 1923 general election

Prime Minister before election

Stanley Baldwin

Prime Minister after election

Ramsay MacDonald

MacDonald formed the first ever Labour government with tacit support from the Liberals. Rather than trying to bring the Liberals back into government, Asquith's motivation for permitting Labour to enter power was that he hoped they would prove to be incompetent and quickly lose support. Being a minority, MacDonald's government only lasted ten months and another general election was held in October 1924.



In May 1923, Prime Minister Bonar Law fell ill and resigned on 22 May,[2] after just 209 days in office. He was replaced by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Stanley Baldwin. The Labour Party had also changed leaders since the previous election, after J. R. Clynes was defeated in a leadership challenge by former leader Ramsay MacDonald.

Having won an election just the year before, Baldwin's Conservative Party had a comfortable majority in the House of Commons and could have waited another four years, but the government was concerned and the Conservatives were divided. Baldwin felt the need to receive a mandate from the people, which, if successful, would strengthen his grip on the Conservative Party leadership and allow him to introduce tariff reform and imperial preference as protectionist trade policies over the objections of the free trade elements of his party.

Oxford historian and Conservative MP John Marriott depicts the gloomy national mood:

The times were still out of joint. Mr. Baldwin had indeed succeeded in negotiating (January 1923) a settlement of the British debt to the United States, but on terms which involved an annual payment of £34 million, at the existing rate of exchange. The French remained in the Ruhr. Peace had not yet been made with Turkey; unemployment was a standing menace to national recovery; there was continued unrest among the wage-earners, and a significant strike among farm labourers in Norfolk.

Confronted by these difficulties, convinced that economic conditions in England called for a drastic change in fiscal policy, and urged thereto by the Imperial Conference of 1923, Mr. Baldwin decided to ask the country for a mandate for Preference and Protection.[3]

Parliament was dissolved on 16 November[4] and the result backfired on Baldwin, who lost a host of seats to Labour and the Liberals, resulting in a hung parliament. A reformation of the Conservative-Liberal coalition which had governed the country until the previous year was not practical, as Baldwin had alienated both of the two most prominent Liberals, Asquith and David Lloyd George.

Faced with the choice of supporting either a minority Conservative or Labour government on an issue-by-issue basis, Asquith ultimately chose the latter, partly because Lloyd George's faction was vehemently opposed to working with Baldwin (though Asquith's allies were themselves unenthusiastic about such a prospect), and partly because he believed that Labour's electoral success thus far was mostly the result of the previous split in the Liberal Party, and that a Labour government would expose the party's policies as unworkable, allowing for the Liberals to overtake them at the next election. The Liberals therefore combined with Labour to vote down the King's Speech prepared by Baldwin, causing his government to fall. For the first time in history, Labour formed a government.


1923 United Kingdom general election
Candidates Votes
Party Leader Stood Elected Gained Unseated Net % of total % No. Net %
  Conservative Stanley Baldwin 536 258 23 109 −86 41.95 38.0 5,286,159 −0.5
  Labour Ramsay MacDonald 427 191 64 15 +49 31.06 30.7 4,267,831 +1.0
  Liberal H. H. Asquith 457 158 86 43 +43 25.69 29.7 4,129,922 +0.9
  Nationalist Joseph Devlin 2 2 0 0 0 0.3 0.3 43,835 N/A
  Independent N/A 6 2 0 1 −1 0.325 0.3 36,802 −0.5
  Communist Albert Inkpin 4 0 0 1 −1 0.2 34,258 0.0
  Belfast Labour David Robb Campbell 1 0 0 0 0 0.2 22,255 N/A
  Independent Labour N/A 4 0 0 1 −1 0.2 17,331 0.0
  Independent Liberal N/A 4 1 1 1 0 0.1 0.1 16,184 0.0
  Constitutionalist N/A 1 0 0 1 −1 0.1 15,500 0.0
  Ind. Conservative N/A 1 0 0 3 −3 0.1 15,171 −0.8
  Scottish Prohibition Edwin Scrymgeour 1 1 0 0 0 0.1 12,877 0.0
  Irish Nationalist N/A 2 1 0 0 0 0.2 0.1 10,322 N/A
  Christian Pacifist N/A 1 1 1 0 0 0.0 570 N/A

Votes summary

Popular vote

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats

Constituency results


Transfers of seats

  • All comparisons are with the 1922 election.
    • In some cases the change is due to the MP defecting to the gaining party. Such circumstances are marked with a *.
    • In other circumstances the change is due to the seat having been won by the gaining party in a by-election in the intervening years, and then retained in 1923. Such circumstances are marked with a †.
From To No. Seats
Communist Liberal 1 Battersea North
Conservative 1 Motherwell
Labour Labour (HOLD) 125 Aberdeen North, Ayrshire South, Bishop Auckland, Chester-le-Street, Derby (one of two), Dundee (one of two), Edinburgh Central, Fife West, Govan, Hamilton, Houghton-le-Spring, Workington, Plaistow, Forest of Dean, Burnley, Nelson and Colne, Preston (one of two), Ince, Platting, Westhoughton, Wigan, Salford North, Newton, St Helens, Holland with Boston, Deptford, Woolwich East, Morpeth, Broxtowe, Nottingham West, Kingswinford, Leek, Smethwick, Wednesbury, West Bromwich, Hemsworth, Leeds South East, Normanton, Rother Valley, Rothwell, Wentworth, Abertillery, Bedwellty, Ebbw Vale, Pontypool, Caerphilly, Gower, Ogmore, Rhondda East, Rhondda West, Glasgow Gorbals, Manchester Gorton, Cannock, East Ham South, Walthamstow West, Leicester West, Wallsend, Hanley, Bradford East, Don Valley, Aberdare, Silvertown, Midlothian South & Peebles, Derbyshire North East, Spennymoor, Seaham, Consett, Leigh, Whitechapel and St Georges, Wansbeck, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Dunfermline Burghs, Renfrewshire East, Renfrewshire West, Rutherglen, Dumbarton Burghs, Glasgow Bridgeton, Crewe, Clay Cross, Ilkeston, Blaydon, Jarrow, Poplar South, Stepney Limehouse, Pontefract, Sheffield Hillsborough, Sheffield Attercliffe, Sheffield Brightside, Leeds South, Doncaster, Barnsley, Batley and Morley, Colne Valley, Wrexham, Llanelli, Aberavon, Merthyr, Neath, Swansea East, Norfolk North, Clackmannan and Eastern Stirlingshire, Stirlingshire West, Lanarkshire North, Glasgow Maryhill, Glasgow Camlachie, Bothwell†, Coatbridge, Glasgow Springburn, Glasgow Tradeston, Glasgow St. Rollox, Glasgow Shettleston, Linlithgow, Durham, Stratford, Eccles, Farnworth, Manchester Ardwick, Oldham (one of two), Bow and Bromley, Camberwell North, Edmonton, Tottenham North, Newcastle upon Tyne Central, Bradford Central, Pontypridd
Liberal 12 Accrington, Bermondsey West, Burslem, Carnarvonshire, Dewsbury, Elland, Gateshead, Keighley, Newcastle upon Tyne East, Newcastle upon Tyne West, Rochdale, Stirling and Falkirk
Conservative 2 Cathcart, Sedgefield
Independent Labour Liberal 1 Anglesey
Scottish Prohibition Scottish Prohibition 1 Dundee (one of two)
Nationalist Nationalist 2 Fermanagh and Tyrone (both seats)
Irish Nationalist Irish Nationalist 1 Liverpool Scotland
Liberal Labour 5 Bethnal Green North-East, Derby (one of two), Huddersfield, Leeds West, Mansfield
Liberal (HOLD) 45 Greenock, Paisley, Leith, Edinburgh East, Chesterfield, Kingston upon Hull South West, Lambeth North, Wolverhampton East, Middlesbrough West, Penistone, Merionethshire, Montgomeryshire, Orkney and Shetland, East Aberdeenshire & Kincardineshire, Galloway, South Molton, South Shields, Spen Valley, Combined Scottish Universities (one of three), Aberdeen and Kincardine Central†, Forfarshire, Fife East, Edinburgh West, Dumfriesshire, Bedfordshire Mid, Birkenhead East, Tavistock, Dorset North, The Hartlepools, Harwich, Isle of Wight, Kingston upon Hull Central, Preston (one of two), Bootle, Horncastle, Bethnal Green South-West, Great Yarmouth, Nottingham Central, Oxford, Taunton, Chippenham, Westbury, Bradford South, Louth, Walsall
Conservative 7 Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine, Penrith and Cockermouth, Belper, Derbyshire West, Worcester, Holderness, Grantham
National Liberal Labour 19 Kirkcaldy Burghs, Glasgow Partick, Kilmarnock, Berwick & Haddington, Bristol East, Bristol North, Dartford, Bolton (one of two), Leicester East, Shoreditch, Southwark North, Southwark South East, Norwich (both seats), Northampton, Wellingborough, Lichfield, Shipley, Swansea West
Liberal 27 Caithness and Sutherland*, Inverness*, Ross and Cromarty*, Western Isles, Banff*, Montrose Burghs*, Argyll*, Stockport (one of two), Cornwall North*, Stockton-on-Tees, Bristol South*, Blackburn (one of two), Heywood and Radcliffe*, Oldham (one of two)*, Stretford, Camberwell North-West*, Hackney Central, Southwark Central*, Stoke*, Denbigh, Flintshire*, Carmarthen, Pembrokeshire*, Carnarvon*, Brecon and Radnor*, Combined English Universities (one of two)*, Camborne
Independent Liberal 1 Cardiganshire
Christian Pacifist 1 University of Wales
Conservative 6 Moray and Nairn, Kinross and West Perthshire, Romford, Middleton & Prestwich, Sheffield Park, Norfolk South West
Independent Liberal 2 Eye, Cambridge University (one of two)
Independent Independent 2 Mossley, Harrow
Speaker Speaker 1 Halifax
Conservative Labour 40 Dunbartonshire, Lanark, Midlothian & Peebles North, Reading, Birkenhead West, Barnard Castle, Leyton East, East Ham North, Essex SE, Maldon, Upton, Gravesend, Manchester Clayton, Salford South, Salford West, Warrington, Liverpool Edge Hill†, Greenwich, Kennington, Hammersmith North, Finsbury, Hackney South, Islington South, Islington West, Stepney Mile End, Rotherhithe, St Pancras North, St Pancras South East, Norfolk South, Kettering, The Wrekin, Frome, Ipswich, Coventry, Enfield, Tottenham South, Willesden West, Wakefield, Rotherham, Cardiff South
Liberal 69 Perth, Edinburgh North, Luton, Abingdon, Newbury, Aylesbury, Wycombe, Huntingdonshire, Isle of Ely, Altrincham, Stalybridge and Hyde, Wirral, Penryn and Falmouth, St Ives, Barnstaple, Plymouth Devonport, Tiverton, Torquay, Totnes, Chelmsford, Stroud, Thornbury, Basingstoke, Portsmouth Central, Hemel Hempstead, Sevenoaks, Blackpool, Darwen, Lancaster, Lonsdale, Manchester Blackley, Manchester Exchange, Manchester Moss Side, Manchester Rusholme, Manchester Withington, Royton, Liverpool Wavertree, Liverpool West Derby, Southport, Bosworth, Harborough, Leicester South, Gainsborough, Hackney North, Brixton, Islington East, Stoke Newington, King's Lynn, Norfolk East, Hexham, Nottingham East, Shrewsbury, Bath, Bridgwater, Wells, Weston-super-Mare, Sudbury, Chichester, Nuneaton, Rugby, Finchley, Willesden East†, Devizes, Salisbury, Cleveland, Middlesbrough East, Bradford North, Sowerby, Cardiff East
Conservative (HOLD) 226 Cambridge University (one of two), Combined English Universities (one of two), Oxford University (both seats), London University, Combined Scottish Universities (two of three), Aberdeen South, Ayr Burghs, Ayrshire N & Bute, Glasgow Central, Hillhead, Pollok, Kelvingrove, Edinburgh South, Windsor, Buckingham, Cambridge, Chester, Eddisbury, Knutsford, Macclesfield, Northwich, Wallasey, Cumberland North, Westmorland, High Peak, Exeter, Honiton, Plymouth Drake, Plymouth Sutton, Dorset South, Dorset West, Darlington, Sunderland (both seats), Colchester, Epping, Ilford, Leyton West, Southend, Walthamstow E, Bristol Central, Bristol West, Cheltenham, Cirencester and Tewkesbury, Gloucester, Aldershot, Fareham, New Forest & Christchurch, Petersfield, Portsmouth North, Portsmouth South, Winchester, Hereford, Leominster, Bewdley, Dudley, Evesham, Kidderminster, Hitchin, St Albans, Watford, Ealing, Hornsey, Twickenham, Wood Green, Brentford and Chiswick, Hendon, Spelthorne, Uxbridge, Acton, Howdenshire, Kingston upon Hull East, Kingston upon Hull North West, Ashford, Bromley, Canterbury, Chatham, Chislehurst, Dover, Faversham, Gillingham, Hythe, Isle of Thanet, Maidstone, Tonbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn (one of two), Chorley, Fylde, Rossendale, Ashton-under-Lyne, Bury, Hulme, E Toxteth, Everton, Liverpool Exchange, Fairfield, Kirkdale, Walton, West Toxteth, Waterloo, Widnes, Melton, Brigg, Grimsby, Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford, Balham and Tooting, Chelsea, Clapham, Dulwich, Fulham East, Hampstead, Holborn, Lewisham East, Lewisham West, Kensington South, Fulham West, Hammersmith South, Islington North, Kensington North, Battersea South, City of London (both seats), Norwood, Paddington North, Paddington South, Putney, St Marylebone, St Pancras South West, Streatham, Wandsworth Central, Westminster Abbey, Woolwich West, Daventry, Peterborough, Newcastle upon Tyne North, Tynemouth, Bassetlaw, Nottingham South, Rushcliffe, Newark, Henley, Ludlow, Oswestry, Yeovil, Burton, Stafford, Stone, Tamworth, Bilston, Wolverhampton West, Bury St Edmunds, Woodbridge, Chertsey, Croydon North, Croydon South, Epsom, Farnham, Guildford, Kingston upon Thames, Mitcham, Reigate, Surrey East, Wimbledon, Brighton (both seats), East Grinstead, Eastbourne, Hastings, Horsham and Worthing, Lewes, Rye, Aston, Deritend, Erdington, King's Norton, Ladywood, Yardley, Sparkbrook, Birmingham West, Edgbaston, Handsworth, Moseley, Warwick and Leamington, Swindon, York, Richmond (Yorks), Scarborough and Whitby, Thirsk and Malton, Barkston Ash, Ripon, Ecclesall, Hallam, Skipton, Leeds North East, Sheffield Central, Monmouth, Llandaff & Barry, Cardiff C, Bournemouth, Hertford, Bedford, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire South, Southampton (both seats), Buckrose, Peckham, Banbury, Lowestoft, Pudsey and Otley, Leeds North, Leeds Central, Newport (Monmouthshire), Bodmin, Saffron Walden, Stourbridge, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Birmingham Duddeston, Stockport (one of two), Clitheroe, Ormskirk, Bolton (one of two)
Ind. Conservative Conservative 3 Westminster St George's, Richmond (Surrey)*, Dorset East
UUP UUP 11 Antrim (both seats), Armagh, Belfast East, Belfast North, Belfast South, Belfast West, Down (both seats), Londonderry, Queen's University of Belfast

See also



  1. ^ This represents the joint total of the Liberals and the National Liberals in the 1922 election. The two parties reunified for the 1923 election.
  2. ^ All parties shown. Conservatives include Ulster Unionists. Liberal total is compared to joint total of Liberals and National Liberals in 1922.
  1. ^ The seat and vote count figures for the Liberals given here include the Speaker of the House of Commons


  1. ^ Morgan, William Thomas (1924). "The British Elections of December, 1923". American Political Science Review. 18 (2): 331–340. doi:10.2307/1943928. ISSN 0003-0554.
  2. ^ "Andrew Bonar Law". Number10.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 25 August 2008. Retrieved 31 July 2008.
  3. ^ Marriott 1948, p. 517; Doerr 1998, p. 75–76.
  4. ^ "Parliamentary Election Timetables" (PDF) (3rd ed.). House of Commons Library. 25 March 1997. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  5. ^ "Election Statistics: UK 1918–2007" (PDF). House of Commons Library. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.



Further reading