United Kingdom general election, 1923
The 1923 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 6 December 1923. The Conservatives, led by Stanley Baldwin, won the most seats, but Labour, led by Ramsay MacDonald, and H. H. Asquith's reunited Liberal Party gained enough to produce a hung parliament. It was the last UK general election in which a third party (the Liberals) won more than 100 seats, or received more than 26% of the vote.
All 615 seats Constituency results
308 seats needed for a majority
Colours denote the winning party, as shown in the main table of results
As the election had been fought on the Conservative proposals for tariff reform, it was inevitable that they could not retain office. As a result, MacDonald formed the first ever Labour government with tacit support from the Liberals. Asquith's motivation for permitting Labour to enter power, rather than trying to bring the Liberals back into government, was that he hoped they would prove to be incompetent and quickly lose support. Being a minority, MacDonald's government only lasted 10 months and another general election was held in October 1924.
Having won an election just the year before, Baldwin's Conservative party had a comfortable majority in the Commons and could have waited another four years, but the government was concerned.
Baldwin felt the need to receive a mandate from the people, which, if successful, would strengthen his grip on the Conservative party leadership. Oxford historian (and Conservative MP) J.A.R. 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.
The result however backfired on Baldwin, who lost a host of seats to Labour and the Liberals.
For the first time in history, Labour formed a government.
|Party||Leader||Stood||Elected||Gained||Unseated||Net||% of total||%||No.||Net %|
|Conservative||Stanley Baldwin||536||258||− 86||41.95||38.0||5,286,159||−0.5|
|Labour||Ramsay MacDonald||427||191||+ 49||31.06||30.7||4,267,831||+1.0|
|Liberal||H. H. Asquith||457||158||+ 43||25.69||29.7||4,129,922||+0.9|
|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 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|
For a full list of the results by constituency, see Constituency election results in the United Kingdom general election, 1923.
Transfers of seatsEdit
- 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 †.
- Cook, Chris P. "Wales and the General Election of 1923." Welsh History Review 4.4 (1969): 393-4.
- F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832-1987 (1989)
- Craig, F.W.S. ed. British General Election Manifestos, 1900-74 (1975).
- Irwin, Douglas A. "Industry or Class Cleavages over Trade Policy? Evidence from the British General Election of 1923." (No. w5170. National bureau of economic research, 1995) online.
- Self, Robert. "Conservative reunion and the general election of 1923: a reassessment." Twentieth Century British History 3.3 (1992): 249-273.
- Smart, Nick. "Baldwin's Blunder? The General Election of 1923." Twentieth Century British History 7#1 (1996): 110-139.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 August 2008. Retrieved 31 July 2008.
- J. A. R. Marriott, Modern England: 1885-1945 (4th ed. 1948) p. 517
- Paul W. Doerr, British foreign policy 1919-1939 p.75-76
- This represents the joint total of the Liberals and the National Liberals in the 1922 election. The two parties reunified for the 1923 election.