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Author Topic: British Elections 1918-1945  (Read 18358 times)
Sibboleth
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« Reply #25 on: March 02, 2010, 11:35:42 am »
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London...



Bigger map here.

Notes

1. The Tories were unopposed in the City of London in 1918, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1931 and 1935, in Kensington South in 1923, 1924 and 1931, in both Lewisham seats in 1918, in Paddington South in 1924 and 1929, in St Marylebone in 1918 and 1922, in Westminster Abbey in 1918, 1923 and 1931, and in Westminster St George's in 1923, 1924 and 1931. Labour were unopposed in Woolwich East in 1918 (their candidate was Will Crooks), and a Coalition Liberal was unopposed in Hackney Central in 1918.

2. The Independent in Hackney South in 1918 was Horatio Bottomley. The Independent in Westminster St George's in 1922 was an Independent Conservative.

3. Communists were elected in Battersea North in 1922 and 1924 (Saklatvala), and for Stepney Mile End in 1945 (Piratin). Saklatvala was never elected against Labour opposition and in 1922 he had an official Labour endorsement.

4. In 1945 Hammersmith North was won by an Independent Labour candidate; the fellow travelling D.N. Pritt.

5. Although Shoreditch 1922 was technically a National Liberal hold, the incumbent (Christopher Addison; of Addison Act fame) was defeated as he left the National Liberals for the Official Liberals. Within a year he was a member of the Labour Party, and was later a Labour MP for Swindon (serving as a minister in the second MacDonald government) and a Labour peer (in the Attlee cabinet).

6. Special mention goes to Leslie Haden-Guest who was a candidate for an impressive range of parties in an impressive number of constituencies durin this period (though was ever only elected for Labour).

7. Descriptions of constituencies to follow.
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« Reply #26 on: March 02, 2010, 12:23:06 pm »
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Ah, Saklatvala.
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« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2010, 12:24:48 pm »
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What's with the enduring Liberal machine in Bethnal Green?
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« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2010, 12:31:40 pm »
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These descriptions will be fairly brief (in part because I'm a little hazy about some parts of London during this period). This won't be done in one go, but will be updated until its finished. A map to make things clearer:



Westminster, Abbey: covered the core of Westminster, including Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Whitehall and (just about, I think) Buckingham Palace. Also included the West End and a rather seedy area around Covent Garden (which provided the bulk of the non-Tory vote, much of it Communist, hilariously enough. They polled 17% in 1945). There was a massive business vote here; over 2,000 in 1945.

Westminster, St George's: stuffy bourgeois clubland, based around Pimlico and Knightsbridge.

St Marylebone: bourgeois residential area, including St John's Wood and the like.

Paddington North: mostly working class (but not industrial) and (I think) slummish in a few places. The east of the constituency might still have been quite middle class then, but I'm not entirely sure.

Paddington South: another bourgeois residential area. Included Bayswater and Lancaster Gate.

Kensington North: the working class part of Kensington. The north of the constituency was very working class and Labour, further south less so.

Kensington South: the richest and most bourgeois constituency in the country. In one year some members of the Conservative Association got upset with the official candidate and ran one of their own (Rayner Goddard, later to be one of the most infamous judges of the twentieth century) who came nowhere near winning.

Chelsea: the area completed its transformation into the district we know today during this period. Not a lot else to say.

Fulham West and Fulham East: much of muchness, as far as I know. Working class, and increasingly so during this period, but relatively comfortable. There were several famous by-elections in the borough during this period.

Hammersmith North: a working class district and increasingly so. Included Shepherd's Bush. Its MP during the last decade of this period was a Communist in all but name.

Hammersmith South: more like the Fulham seats than Hammersmith North, though a little more working class and a little less comfortable. The setting for part of The Singing Detective.

Battersea North: an industrial area and very working class. Its industrial nature led to an unusual number of skilled workers* for somewhere in the County of London, which led to unusually strong Trade Unions and a radical political tradition. As noted earlier, its MP for most of the 1920s was the Communist Shapurji Saklatvala. A breakdown in relations between Labour and the CPGB led to Labour running a candidate of their own in 1929; Saklatvala came third, polling 18.6%.

Battersea South: a residential area and much more mixed than Battersea North. It was almost certainly majority working class through most of the period, though.

Putney: solidly middle class suburbia back then (and as it would remain until the construction of Roehampton and so on). Not entirely sure why it was included in the County of London in the first place... presumably it was covered by a London Vestry or something. While it was very dull politically, as many as five candidates stood there in 1945 (including Richard Acland for CommonWealth - polled 8% and lost his deposit).

Wandsworth Central: a residential area that became increasingly working class throughout the period. The Labour candidate in 1945 was none other than Ernest Bevin.

Balham and Tooting: for much of the period a middle class residential area with politics to match. I don't know enough about the history of Tooting to be sure of why, but its fairly clear that this was not the case by 1945; a lot of places in London changed a lot in the decade after 1935, and the reasons were usually the middle classes moving further out of the city and the building of estates. I suspect that we're mostly dealing with the former in this case.

Streatham: solid, stolid, middle class suburbia. As it had been since urbanisation and as it would remain until the 1970s.

Clapham: middle class residential area for most of this period, and noted for its dullness. This changed for the usual London reasons (outlined under Balham and Tooting).

Norwood: middle class suburbia. While the area clearly moved downmarket a little during the period, the result in 1945 was probably down to Labour's strong showing with the lower middle classes in that election, rather than a result of social change.

Brixton: this area, however, changed a lot. Brixton was an old suburb and a lower middle class residential area until quite late during this period (as the Liberal win in 1923 shows perfectly). The area was abandoned by the middle classes in the late 30s and early 40s, in part due to the bombing. It is, in other words, comparable to Moss Side in more ways than the obvious one.

Kennington: a largely working class residential area that included significant bourgeois pockets here and there (including Kennington itself).

Lambeth North: the old core of Lambeth; Vauxhall and so on. This was a very working class area, and Labour's early difficulties were entirely down to an entrenched Liberal machine. When that was no longer a problem... well... a double-digit win in 1935 says it all, really. The Labour candidate here was usually George Strauss.

Southwark North: the old core of Southwark. We are, of course, now deep into slumland; that the old borough of Southwark had three parliamentary constituencies during this period says rather a lot. By 1945, this constituency had just 14,108 electors.

Southwark Central: basically Elephant and Castle. Classic slumland.

Southwark South East: Walworth. The northeastern boundary of the constituency was the Old Kent Road. Not sure if there's much point in writing more...

Bermondsey West: indescribably horrific slums. Not only were the houses largely unfit for human habitation, but the area was a traditional home of the so-called 'noxious industries'. Especially important were the tanneries, though IIRC that industry was already in decline by this period. No clue on why it swung back (albeit briefly) to the Liberals in '23.

Rotherhithe: dominanted in all ways by the Surrey Commercial Docks. Voting patterns were a little strange before the interwar period due to some of the specialist riverside trades that were very strong here (Watermen and Lightermen, in particular), but this ceased to be of importance after 1922.

*A term that then had a different (and more accurate) meaning than the lazy use of it that is so depressingly common today.

As noted above, this post will be updated.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2010, 08:21:02 am by Mr Epraheem »Logged

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« Reply #29 on: March 02, 2010, 12:39:56 pm »
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What's with the enduring Liberal machine in Bethnal Green?

The personal political machine of Percy Harris (MP for South West Bethnal Green until his defeat in 1945). They used voluntary organisations, active constituency services and, I think, offered legal services.
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« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2010, 09:20:40 am »
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Monmouthshire:



Notes

1. Labour were unopposed in Abertillery in 1918, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1931 and 1935, in Bedwellty in 1924, 1931 and 1935 and in Ebbw Vale in 1918, 1924 and 1931. The Tories were unopposed in Monmouth in 1922.

2. The Labour candidate in Ebbw Vale from 1929 onwards was Nye Bevan. The Labour candidate in Monmouth in 1935 was a promising young man from the West Country; name of Foot.

3. Descriptions of the constituencies...

Monmouth: covered the east of the county, but also the area immediately west of Newport. For the most part agricultural, it was also one of the most Anglican and (in places) least 'Welsh' parts of Wales. The main towns were Abergavenny, Monmouth, Caerleon and Chepstow, the first two being large market towns, while Caerleon was essentially part of Newport and Chepstow was fairly industrial. Probably the bulk of the non-Tory vote came from Abergavenny, Caerleon and Chepstow; Caldicot would remain very small until it was chosen as an ideal place for steelworkers to live in the late 50s.

Newport: the largest town in Monmouthshire, Newport had a broad economic base. Originally a coal port, it had also developed a large manufacturing base and was the main service and administrative centre for the whole of the county. As far as I know, the most working class parts of the town were further south (on both banks of the Usk), while the poshest areas were in the north west. A heavy defeat for the Liberals in a by-election in Newport in 1922 is sometimes cited as contributing to the fall of Lloyd George.

Pontypool: the easternmost Valleys constituency and one with an unusually diverse economic base. While Blaenavon and Abersychan were classic Valleys communities dependent on coal (the iron industry in the area had already collapsed by this point), Pontypool itself was an important railway centre. The area south of Pontypool was then still quite agricultural, I think. Blaenavon and Abersychan were Labour's strongest towns in the constituency, though Pontypool followed in the late 20s. As in much of South Wales, the General Strike seems to have had an important long term impact on electoral patterns.

Abertillery: the constituency immediately west of Pontypool. A classic Valleys constituency, dominated by small towns once dependent on iron and by this period entirely dependent on coal mining. Towns in the constituency included Nantyglo, Blaina, Abertillery and Abercarn.

Bedwellty: the constituency immediately west of Abertillery. Another classic Valleys constituency, this time stretching down from New Tredegar to the outskirts of Newport. Major towns included Risca, Blackwood, Aberbargoed and New Tredegar. Unlike the other Monmouthshire Valleys constituencies, this one never had much of an industrial past before coal. Some of the towns in the area are surprisingly new (late nineteenth century).

Ebbw Vale: basically Ebbw Vale, Tredegar and Rhymney. The area had once been one of the main centres of the iron industry, and although Tredegar and Rhymney were by this point entirely dominated by the coal industry, Ebbw Vale was home to a large steelworks of national importance. Local Labour politics was fractious (Bevan gained his seat after deselecting the previous incumbent) and often somewhat parochial.
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« Reply #31 on: March 07, 2010, 09:42:37 am »

It's a good testament to Labour power in the coal mining regions of South Wales that the 1931 map doesn't look that different to other maps. I'm slightly surprised that Labour held Pontypool even in 1931.
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« Reply #32 on: March 07, 2010, 09:49:28 am »
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Wow, more eye candy. Thanks for the new info + maps, Al, they're really quite interesting Smiley
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« Reply #33 on: March 07, 2010, 10:05:47 am »
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Local Labour politics was fractious (Bevan gained his seat after deselecting the previous incumbent) and often somewhat parochial.
And what, I pray, do you mean by "was"? Huh
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« Reply #34 on: March 07, 2010, 10:15:11 am »

Al, could you do the Cardiff and surrounding areas next?
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« Reply #35 on: March 07, 2010, 11:06:04 am »
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I'd love to see Mid Wales (and see how you explain Ceredigion because I can't and I live in the constituency!)
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« Reply #36 on: March 07, 2010, 11:21:26 am »
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Cardiff will be done as part of Glamorgan, all of Mid, West and North Wales will be done in one go. Both will be done fairly soon, though I'm not sure whether anything will come first.

It's a good testament to Labour power in the coal mining regions of South Wales that the 1931 map doesn't look that different to other maps. I'm slightly surprised that Labour held Pontypool even in 1931.

Yeah, the Valleys were one of the main holdouts against the National Government in 1931; political life was dominated by the Fed and the nationalistic appeal of the National Government carried less in Wales than elsewhere. You'll see the same thing on the Glamorgan map. As for Pontypool, its pretty clear from looking at the statistics that the General Strike changed everything; the same was true of the other Valleys constituencies with relatively mixed economies. Solidarity and all that.
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« Reply #37 on: March 07, 2010, 11:23:04 am »
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Local Labour politics was fractious (Bevan gained his seat after deselecting the previous incumbent) and often somewhat parochial.
And what, I pray, do you mean by "was"? Huh

Grin
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« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2010, 12:00:57 pm »
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Revision to previous statement: I will do Cardiff seperately (and probably very soon), but will also incorporate it into a wider Glamorgan map. I think.
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« Reply #39 on: January 18, 2011, 04:07:23 pm »
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I have access to a copy of Craig 1918-1949 again. So... yeah. Lanarkshire less Glasgow:



Some notes...

1. Much like Wales, the pattern of inter-war Scottish politics was different to the pattern of inter-war politics in England which (inevitably given population issues) tends to dominate our idea of inter-war British politics in general. So some of the patterns here that might look a little strange aren't, actually.

2. Jennie Lee was the Labour candidate in North Lanarkshire in 1929 and the ILP candidate in 1931 and 1935. The Tory candidate in Lanark from 1935 onwards (and also in Coatbridge in 1929) was future Prime Minister Alec Douglas Home, then known as Lord Dunglass.

3. Brief constituency descriptions...

North Lanarkshire: covered the area that you'd expect from the name, basically. An industrial and mining constituency with a significant rural element, the constituency saw its electorate increase to around 70,000 in 1945 (which was a lot back then) due to the expansion of Glasgow's suburbs and estates. The bulk of the Labour vote would presumably have come from the mining communities around Shotts. The result in 1935 is extremely deceptive, btw, and is a consequence of the ILP leaving the Labour fold. Lee ran for the ILP and polled 37%, but an official Labour candidate ran and polled 14%.

Lanark: covered the entire south of the county. This was basically a rural and even agricultural constituency, though there were mining elements in places and other rural industries in others. As in North Lanarkshire, a surprisingly large Tory majority in 1935 is explained by two candidates from the Labour camp (though in this case it was the ILP candidate who polled a low share and didn't actually change the outcome; the Tory poll was 56%).

Coatbridge: of the two smallest constituencies, the one furthest north. This was made up of Coatbridge and Airdrie; two towns united by their dependence on heavy industry and by the devastating collapse of most of it during this period, but divided by religion and ethnicity (although those two things were essentially the same in Lanarkshire back then). Coatbridge was (and is) the most Irish (and most Catholic) large town in Scotland, while Airdrie was predominantly Protestant. Labour did quite a bit better in 1935 than in the early 20s, which is unusual for Scotland; the Labour candidate was the Rev. James Barr (a Presbyterian minister opposed to the merger of the UFC with the CoS) which may explain some of it.

Motherwell: the other small urban constituency. Much like Coatbridge, Motherwell included another large town within its boundaries (Wishaw). There's probably no need to point out that its economy was dominated by the steel industry. While post-war Motherwell has been notable mostly for its political stability, things were somewhat different during the inter-war period; that odd light red colour in 1922 denotes that the constituency was won by a Communist, the amusingly named Walton Newbold who was actually from the same small town in Lancashire as Andy Burnham (read into that whatever you like) and, unlike most of his CPGB comrades, didn't pretend to be just another Labour candidate. After losing his seat in 1923 he moved to the right, first joining Labour and then (hilariously) National Labour. Things get stranger; the Tory who defeated Newbold had stood in 1918 and 1922 as an Independent candidate backed by the Orange Order and was later convicted of receiving stolen goods. He was replaced the Rev. James Barr (see above) who lost narrowly in 1931. And then, of course, there is the famous by-election in which Robert McIntyre became the SNP's first ever MP for about thirty seconds. It tends not be remembered that he lost so badly in the 1945 General Election that the majority of the victorious Labour candidate was only slightly smaller than McIntyre's total vote.

Hamilton: covering the southern end of the Lanarkshire coalfield, Hamilton was one of only a handful of seats in Scotland won by Labour in 1918 and, with the exception of 1923, was always Labour's safest seat in non-Glaswegian Lanarkshire; Labour even managed a pretty respectable majority in 1931. As well as coal, there was a significant textile industrial in Hamilton itself.

Rutherglen: just south of Glasgow, Rutherglen stretched out from the burgh itself (which was already an industrial suburb of Glasgow in all but law and local sentiment) to include a large section of the coalfield at Cambuslang and Blantyre. In the post-war period this constituency was notably for being unusually strong Unionist territory, something not really the case during this period (the narrow hold in 1935 was more than made up for by the big swing to Labour in 1945). Of course that might just be because at this point the constituency included Blantyre.

Bothwell: covering the part of the Monklands between Coatbridge and Motherwell, this was another mining constituency and had very different boundaries to the Bothwell of post-war elections. There was a fairly large increase in the electorate between 1931 and 1945; again because of the physical expansion of Glasgow. First gained in a by-election in 1919, this was a very safe constituency with the obvious exception of 1931.
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« Reply #40 on: January 18, 2011, 04:47:43 pm »
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Of course that might just be because at this point the constituency included Blantyre.

Grin

And now we're back in with Rutherglen again (in both Westminster and Holyrood) Which is better than being in with East Kilbride; without Blantyre the SNP would have won in October 1974 (They controlled the District itself from 1974-1980) Though on the same note, ironically Blantyre (though this is now local hearsay now given the time that has passed) helped Winnie Ewing win in 1967.

Overall the assessments are spot on.
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« Reply #41 on: January 24, 2011, 06:23:49 pm »
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Cardiff. As I've already written boundaries for borough constituencies won't be quite as accurate as for county seats, but these are about right. Or at least aren't utterly wrong; I think the not-brilliant base maps might have got the boundary between Cathays and Roath wrong, but not by all that much. Such is life, I guess. Forward!

1. There's a mildly interesting paradox to Cardiff boundaries during this period; while these constituencies were for the most part tightly drawn within a set of city boundaries that became increasing obsolete as private suburbia mushroomed and council estates were constructed (more on that in a minute), Penarth was included in a Cardiff seat.

2. Total electorate of the three Cardiff seats in 1918: 95,028. The constituency of Llandaff & Barry at the same point: 34,041. Total electorate of the three Cardiff seats in 1945: 128,833. The constituency of Llandaff & Barry at the same point: 96,106.

3. Future Prime Minister James Callaghan was elected for Cardiff South in 1945 while future Speaker George Thomas was elected for Cardiff Central at the same election. And the victorious Labour candidate in Cardiff East was notable as well; Professor Hilary Marquand. Who defeated the Secretary of State for War (P.J. Grigg). The Labour MP for Cardiff South 1923-1924 and 1929-1931 was Arthur Henderson Jr., who would later a find a more lasting electoral home in the Black Country. And finally (I think) Hugh Dalton's long quest to find a suitable electoral home included Cardiff East; where he lost out by 3.1 in 1923.

4. Brief descriptions of the constituencies...

Cardiff South: described by Kenneth O. Morgan as 'a mixed, sprawling constituency which took in the old decaying dockside community of Bute Town and Tiger Bay as well as the fashionable suburbs of Penarth', this was the most working class - and most Labour - of the three Cardiff constituencies. Which, given the docks, is more or less what you'd expect. It also included Grangetown and Adamsdown/South Roath (then a seriously rough and largely Irish district). Had it not included the bourgeois suburb-cum-resort of Penarth it might have been a fairly safe seat for most of the period. The Liberals remained competitive until 1923, after which they fell away pretty rapidly.

Cardiff East: this was basically the old parish of Roath, minus the Adamsdown area. Which meant that it included the proletarian stronghold of Splott (between the railway and the sea and dominated by the East Moors steelworks), the residential district of Roath proper... and the posh inner suburbs around Roath Park (probably the most affluent part of Wales during this period). The constituency had predictably strange politics and the Liberals remained competitive right up to (and including) 1931; the reason for the unusual swing in 1935 is the fact the constituency saw a tight three-way race in 1931 and a Tory/Labour fight in 1935 (there was a Liberal candidate, but he polled terribly).

Cardiff Central: the other Cardiff constituencies were uneasy mixtures of industry and suburban comfort. Central was a little different; it was basically the parts of Cardiff (as was in 1918) north of GWR and west of the Rhymney Railway and included a diverse mixture of suburbs as well as the city centre. Its two main districts were Cathays (a district dominated by railwaymen back then) and Canton, which was a mixed residential area with perhaps more of a lower middle class feel than might have always been reflected in statistics. At a guess Cathays was Labour's strongest area, though I am probably completely wrong (I don't really know enough about inter-war Canton).
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« Reply #42 on: January 27, 2011, 05:16:29 pm »
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Sorry to be asking what is probably a rather dumb question, but what party is reflected by the purple winning in Cardiff Central in 1931 and 1935? Was it an independent or was it a party, and if so, which party?
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« Reply #43 on: January 27, 2011, 06:28:56 pm »
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Sorry to be asking what is probably a rather dumb question, but what party is reflected by the purple winning in Cardiff Central in 1931 and 1935? Was it an independent or was it a party, and if so, which party?

The answer is here.
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« Reply #44 on: January 27, 2011, 09:49:50 pm »
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Thanks for that! I should have tried looking for it!
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« Reply #45 on: June 12, 2011, 02:01:57 pm »
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I've finished a boundary map for Nottinghamshire; working out the boundaries for Nottingham itself was hellish and those that I've drawn are probably just impressionistic (at best), but it is done. Pretty stuff soon.
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« Reply #46 on: June 13, 2011, 01:19:45 pm »
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And the first map for quite a while. Zummerzet, because I felt like it:



1. It is instructive to compare the patterns in Somerset to those in Cornwall; some patterns are clearly related, but some are very different.

2. Bridgwater's slightly odd pink in 1945 denotes that it was won by a left-wing independent.

3. As far as notable candidates are concerned, Taunton played a key role in the saga of Arthur Griffith-Boscawen (a brief summary can be found on his wikipedia page. Read and laugh). It was also one of many constituencies contested for Labour by the seemingly omnipresent Rev. George Woods. Elsewhere, Weston-super-Mud was represented for much of the period by Lord Erskine (Governor of the Madras Presidency 1934-1940), while Violet Bonham Carter ran for the Liberals in Wells in 1945.

4. Descriptions won't be all that detailed as my knowledge of voting patterns in the West Country during this period is less than perfect. But we can all be sure that personal votes were often a big factor. Though the sustained oddness of Somerset politics during this period makes for relatively long notes anyway:

Weston-super-Mare: covered the northern third or so of Somerset's share of the Bristol Channel coast and a big swath of agricultural territory inland. As well as the infamously muddy resort that gave the constituency its name, it also included Clevedon (a smaller and more upmarket version of Weston) and Portishead which was a much more industrial place, based around Portishead Dock. The constituency was greatly altered by the expansion of Bristol suburbia (and of Bristol itself; by the 1930s the city had expanded to include territory in the constituency) which presumably contributed to it turning into a very safe Conservative seat from that decade onwards.

Bath: covered the staid bourgeois city of Bath and nothing else. It's easy to spot on the map; it's the small seat surrounded by Frome. This was normally a safe Conservative seat (as you'd expect), though the Liberals captured it when they swept the West Country in 1923. Somewhat remarkably, it was Labour who came close in 1945, which tells you something.

Frome: had a rather deceptive name as Frome was neither central to nor typical of this remarkably diverse constituency in northern Somerset. It contained the tiny Somerset coalfield around Midsomer Norton and Radstock and this fact alone explains the fact that Labour was consistently competitive here. It also included (obviously) some rather more typical parts of rural Somerset, as well as the expanding dormitory town of Keynsham and an increasingly large share of Bristol suburbia; mostly council estates in this case. Like Weston-super-Mare, by the 1930s a large part of the city was actually in this constituency.

Wells: rural eastern Somerset, and a safe Conservative seat with the usual West Country exceptions. As well as the small city that named the constituency, the main settlements were Glastonbury, the brewing town of Shepton Mallet and the shoe-making town of Street. I suspect that for the early part of the period the rural areas would have been more Liberal voting than the towns (nothing says 'traditionally Tory' like Anglicanism and brewing), though Street would have been an exception.

Yeovil: rural southern Somerset and, remarkably, the only seat in the county that was consistently Tory (though Labour somehow managed to come extremely close in 1945). While most of the constituency was very rural, Yeovil itself was dominated by the armaments industry and the constituency included several important military bases and installations. This seems to explain things, but it doesn't explain that the Liberals sometimes did better in the 1930s than some elections in the 1920s.

Bridgwater: the northern (and so coastal) of the two rural western constituencies. The main towns were Bridgwater itself (a small port and minor industrial centre with a long Radical history), Minehead and Burnham-on-Sea (both of where were small seaside resorts), as well as the wonderfully named Watchet (a very small port). The rural areas were very diverse, as it included a large part of both the Somerset Levels and Exmoor. A very safe Tory seat (despite Bridgwater) by the 1930s, it fell to a left-wing independent (veteran News Chronicle hack Vernon Bartlett) who was re-elected in 1945.

Taunton: rural western Somerset. This was such a rural constituency that there were only two large settlements; Taunton itself and the minor industrial centre of Wellington (a rare example of a West Country cloth town that managed to survive the Industrial Revolution). It had an odd electoral history; as we can tell from the 1922 map, Arthur Griffith-Boscawen's parachute only worked once, while the constituency saw one of the most surprising Labour gains in the country in 1945. Taunton itself was traditionally Tory, but I'm not sure if it was in 1945; Wellington was always Radical and would have voted Labour by a large margin. Elsewhere there must have been a substantial rural Labour vote, but I've no idea where it came from. Finally, some trivia (or not?). Ernest Bevin was born in the tiny village of Winston, which was in this constituency.
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« Reply #47 on: June 13, 2011, 07:49:16 pm »
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Writing up stuff for Notts, when I noticed a pretty serious error in the map. Bah. Tomorrow, then.
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« Reply #48 on: June 15, 2011, 11:11:50 am »
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1. The Nottinghamshire coalfield is a fascinating place with a very strange political history. Some of its key moments happened during this period, notably the sudden (and quite remarkable) Labour breakthrough in 1918 (previously the Notts miners had stuck solidly with the Liberals and had voted against affiliating the MFGB to the Labour Party), and the emergence of 'company unionism' (also known as 'Spencer unionism') after the failure of the General Strike and the rather weird way in which that internal dispute was eventually resolved. It must also be noted that the coalfield was still expanding during this period.

2. I remember reading a while ago - while researching my BA dissertation as it happens - that the so-called 'Progressive Alliance' (between Labour and the Liberals) lasted for a long time in Nottingham. This might explain why Labour occasionally didn't contest Nottingham Central and Nottingham East in the early 1920s. But I may be remembering wrong.

3. Not a great deal of notable candidates, though one of the few was very notable indeed; Malcolm MacDonald sat for Bassetlaw from 1929 until 1935. Another was Geoffrey de Freitas, who's long and winding parliamentary career began when he gained Nottingham Central in 1945.

4. The usual brief descriptions...

Nottingham Central: a very diverse urban constituency that covered (you may be surprised to learn) the centre of Nottingham. It contained an uneasy mixture of slums (including, I think, St Annes. Yeah, St Annes was always thus) and middle class residential districts, including the Park Estate (Nottingham's answer to Edgbaston). It was, in other words, exactly the sort of place that Labour never had a prayer in in the inter-war years but ended up gainly quite easily in 1945.

Nottingham East: not as diverse as Central and characterised by middle class residential areas like Mapperley, though it was not entirely without working class voters. The pre-1918 version of the constituency included St Annes; I don’t think this version did, but the maps I worked off were less than entirely clear. A key Liberal/Tory swing seat throughout the 1920s, the un-noticed remoulding of certain significant parts of the electorate caused Labour moved into second place in 1935. Still, the result in 1945 must have come as a shock to everyone.

Nottingham South: basically a working class urban constituency with some more middle class areas here and there. It included The Meadows and probably most of Lenton; because the maps I was working off were less than entirely reliable, it may have included part of St Annes as well, but I don't think so (this is the sort of thing that I'd like to check at some point. Sorry to keep on whining about that). A safe Conservative seat in most of the 1920s, but then narrowly gained by Labour in 1929. The Labour MP elected that year defected to National Labour during the 1931 crisis, and that 'party' held the seat in both 1931 and 1935, before Labour took it by a large margin in 1945.

Nottingham West: something a little different. A surprisingly large number of miners lived in Nottingham and boundaries were carefully drawn to make sure that almost all of them lived in this constituency. Unsurprisingly, then, it was a safe Labour seat won with a comfortable majority (and usually much more than that) at every election except the disaster of 1931. It was different from the rest of the Nottingham constituencies in a couple of other ways as well, mostly notably being the fact that its electorate kept growing throughout the period as it was the only one with land suitable for new housing (most of which was built by the council).

Rushcliffe: the strangely drawn constituency south of Nottingham. Even at the start of the period this was a very diverse constituency, including a large slice of rural south Nottinghamshire and the affluent suburb of West Bridgford, as well as Beeston (a weaving town that had transformed into a centre of modern light industry) and Carlton (a textile town that included a significant mining element due to the presence of Gedling colliery). This produced a reliable (though not especially safe) Conservative seat, and one in which both Labour and the Liberals were strong. This changed during the 1930s as the suburbs of Nottingham grew at a rapid rate, with much of the growth happening within this constituency and much of it being more than merely physical; the city annexed a huge amount of territory to its west in 1933, much of which was used to build council estates (though there was a significant amount of private building in places). Rushcliffe looked to be a safe seat in the 1930s as the growth of the suburbs and the collapse of middle class Liberalism strengthened the Tory position, but the continued construction of new council estates undermined this and Labour gained it on a massive swing in 1945.

Newark: initially a very rural constituency (even Newark itself was not large and its industrial base was largely concerned with servicing agriculture) utterly dominated by powerful landowners, Newark was a safe Conservative constituency with a considerable Liberal minority vote. This changed as the collieries of the so-called Dukeries Coalfield (Ollerton, Clipstone and so on) were sunk during the 1920s and as new communities sprang up around them. This radical change had, at first, relatively little political impact on the area as the new communities were company towns through and through and became secretive and closed societies in which neither the MFGB nor the Labour Party were at all welcome; Labour displaced the Liberals locally, but then that happened just about everywhere. This was changed by the War, as old local orders crumbled in the face of national pressures and as secretive local employment cultures were swept away by Ernest Bevin’s powerful Ministry of Labour, as you can probably tell from the close call in 1945.

Bassetlaw: covered the entire northern third of the county. Like Newark, this was a constituency in transition as a result of the expansion of the Notts coalfield, though here the process started earlier and was on a much larger scale. The main town was Worksop with smaller population centres around Warsop, Retford and (as the coal industry expanded) in a narrow strip south of the Yorkshire border. Initially a rural constituency with a mining element, by the end of the 1930s Bassetlaw was a mining constituency with a rural element, expanding the number of naturally safe Labour mining constituencies in Notts to four. Its first Labour MP was Malcolm MacDonald who, like his father, was re-elected in 1931 for National Labour but defeated in 1935 on a huge swing. The Labour MP elected that year, Fred Bellenger, went on to hold the seat until his death in 1968.

Mansfield: the West Notts constituency just south of Bassetlaw. Mansfield was a mining constituency dominated by the large colliery town it was named for, though it included some other coalfield towns, the largest of which was Sutton in Ashfield. Previously a rock-solid Liberal seat, Mansfield fell to Labour in 1918 as the Notts miners suddenly changed their political loyalties in a move about as revolutionary as has ever happened in an area noted (even then) for its moderation. The Liberals struck back in 1922, but this proved to be a last hurrah rather than a lasting revival as Labour regained Mansfield on a large swing in 1923 and went on to hold the seat throughout the rest of the period, winning by a comfortable margin even in the disaster year of 1931.

Broxtowe: the large constituency between Mansfield and Nottingham. Broxtowe, one of a small group of constituencies to be won by Labour at every election during the period, was another mining constituency, though unlike other parts of the Notts coalfield its industrial and mining history stretched back for centuries. Unlike Mansfield it was not dominated by a single large town, but by a patchwork of smaller urban centres, some of which were themselves made up of yet smaller settlements. The most important of these were Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Eastwood, Hucknall and Arnold. Its political history was similar to Mansfield's, though in the case of Broxtowe the Liberal fightback in 1922 failed to dislodge Labour, and subsequent Labour majorities were rarely quite as towering as those in Mansfield.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2011, 11:38:08 am by Sibboleth »Logged

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« Reply #49 on: June 15, 2011, 11:23:04 am »
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Ah yes, I remember that agricultural-to-mining transformation in (what is now the Sherwood constituency) described as "within living memory" in some guide to the 2001 election.

Re Nottingham West - yeah, Wollaton Colliery was right in Nottingham. Whereabouts in the city were(/are?) the Raleigh works?
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