Penkridge Parliamentary History, 1918 to 1950

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After the 1918 Reform Act, in the Stafford Division of Staffordshire

Photographs by permission of William Salt Library

1918  (Coupon Election)


The Representation of the People Act gave the vote to women over the age of 30 and all men over 21. Voting on one day only. Deposit of 150 instituted. The Western Division of Staffordshire was abolished. Staffordshire was divided into 7 constituencies: Burton, Cannock, Kingswinford, Leek, Lichfield, Stafford and Stone. Penkridge was placed in the Stafford Division. [plus the borough constituencies of Newcastle, Smethwick, Walsall, Wednesbury, Westbromwich, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke,  east and west Wolverhampton and Bilston]


Anxious to avoid the destruction of the Liberal party, which had split when he had overthrown Asquith, PM Lloyd George continued his wartime coalition with the Conservatives. Liberal and Conservative candidates who supported the Coalition received a “ticket” or “coupon” which, in theory, gave them a free run without opposition.


George Ambrose Lloyd, an anti-Lloyd George Conservative, having been appointed Governor of Bengal in December 1918, retired. His successor as Conservative candidate, W. Ormesby-Gore received the coalition “coupon”.


Nomination Day: December 4th, 1918

Polling:  December 14th

Counting: December 28th [to accommodate service votes]


“It was generally voted the dullest and most unexciting, if not strangest election on record. The absence of party favours, electioneering bills on the hoardings, or vehicles taking voters to the polls probably accounted in some measure for the apathy and indifference shown. The usual practice of systematic personal canvassing was not resorted to”. [Staffs Advertiser]


Lord Hatherton chaired Conservative meeting at Penkridge school.


W. Ormsby Gore       (C)       8,304

Walter Meakin            (L)       4,203


William George Arthur Ormsby-Gore, 4th Baron Harlech KG GCMG PC (April 11, 1885–February 14, 1964), known until 1938 as William Ormsby-Gore. Harlech was the son of George Ralph Charles Ormsby-Gore, 3rd Baron Harlech. He sat as Member of Parliament for Denbigh from 1910 to 1918 and for Stafford from 1918 until 1938 and served as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1922 to 1929 (with a brief interruption during the short-lived Labour government of 1924). In 1927 he was admitted to the Privy Council. Harlech also held office in the National Governnemnt as Postmaster-General in 1931, as First Commissioner of Works from 1931 to 1936 and as Colonial Secretary between 1936 and 1938. In 1938 he succeeded his father as fourth Baron Harlech and entered the House of Lords. During the Second World War he was High Commissioner to South Africa from 1941 to 1944. After retiring from politics he served on the board of Midland Bank, a banking house founded by his family. [From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]





In the Stafford division there was a straight fight between W. Ormsby Gore and the Labour candidate, Will Holmes, a member of the Executive of the Agricultural Labourers’ Union.

Voting “preceded very quietly and there was an entire absence of enthusiasm and exuberant party spirit. The juveniles made the most of the event, however, and bands of them wearing mostly the Labour colour – green – and beating tin kettles maintained an incessant din in the streets of the north end of the town [Staffs Advertiser]


W. Ormsby Gore       (C)       10,990

Will Holmes                (Lab)   7,672


We have won a remarkable victory which I attribute to the fact that the Labour Party produced at this election an extreme programme. It is my firm conclusion that the Labour Party will never obtain a firm measure of success until they drop the socialist side of their programme”. [W. Ormsby Gore]


The UK general election of 1922 was held on 15 November 1922. It was the first election held after most of the Irish counties left the United Kingdom to form the Irish Free State, and was won by Andrew Bonar Law's Conservatives, who gained an overall majority over Labour, led by John Robert Clynes and a divided Liberal Party [wikipedia]





The UK general election of 1923 was held on 5 December 1923. The Conservatives, led by Stanley Baldwin, won the most seats, but Labour, led by Ramsay MacDonald and Herbert Henry Asquith's reunited Liberal Party gained enough to produce a hung parliament. As the election had been fought on the Conservative proposals for tariff reform it was inevitable that they could not retain office and so the first ever Labour government was formed. Being in a minority it only lasted 10 months and another election was held in 1924.  [wikipedia]


In the Stafford Division a straight fight between Ormsby Gore, now Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, and Mr W. T. Scott of the National Union of Distributive and Allied Workers, (Lab). Born in Sunderland, lived in Manchester.



W. Ormsby Gore       (C)       9,823

W. T. Scott                  (Lab)   8,412




At the last two elections they had been singularly unlucky in the weather and Penkridge, the largest polling district in the division, did not get to the poll a very large number of voters and he was quite sure that if there had been no fog his majority would have been a great deal larger. He hoped that when they had another election they would not have it in November or December when the Penk seemed to be significantly productive of fogs. [Ormsby-Gore at Unionist meeting at George and Fox, Staffordshire Advertiser, March 8th]


The last Labour cabinet had provided a surprise for the nation and it was going to provide a great benefit to the country. They had for the first time in the history of Great Britain a cabinet composed of men who understood the life of the working classes. [W.T. Scott, Staffs Advertiser, March 8th]


W. Ormsby-Gore                   12,404

William Thomas Scott                 7,571


[1924 Election result, wikipedia]