THE 1918 AND OTHER ELECTIONS by Donal Kennedy

At the dissolution of Parliament in 1918 Irish Nationalists held 73 seats and Sinn Fein held 6. Following the 1918 Election the Nationalists retained 6 seats (some of them by arrangement with Sinn Fein. Sinn Feiners the winners in 73 seats abstained from Westminster, about half of them by choice, the other half of them being in British prisons, most of them on charges of being involved in a German Plot, which Lord Wimborne, the Lord Lieutenant, dismissed as bogus.

The Sinn Feiners who could, in accordance with their National Mandate established a National Parliament in Dublin to which all MPs returned by Irish constituencies were invited. The 6 Nationalists and 26 Unionist MPs chose to boycott that democratic assembly.

In the 1880s and again in 1906 Unionist vote in Ireland far exceeded the Nationalist vote but the Nationalists took the lion’s share of the seats. But the Unionists did not wail “WE WUZ ROBBED.”  Had Unionists contested most seats they might not have been robbed, but they would have lost their deposits.

In 1918 financial prudence prevailed in 25 or 26 constituencies in Ireland where the Unionists chose not to contest. 

In Britain in 1918, and before 1918 uncontested seats were common. Incidentally, the only time Winston Churchill led his party into a winning election was in 1951, where his party gained less votes than the Labour Party.

The introduction of Proportional Representation was recommended by the high command of the Royal Irish Constabulary,whose force was largely responsible for the arrest,incarceration, and other visitation on elected Sinn Feiners.

PR was championed for all election in the UK by J.P. Scott of the Manchester Guardian, a confidant of David LloydGeorge, who described it to him as a Crank’s Charter. I paraphrase. But Ronan McGreevy and your readers may check my claims against his IRISHMAN’S DIARY contribution today.

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