The General Election: FTT Global Takes a Look at UK Elections Through History

April 21, 2015 2:18 pm Published by

The UK General Elections are upon us once again with voting taking place on May 7th 2015. It only feels like yesterday that I was standing in line on 27th May 2010 wondering where to put my little black cross! This has got me thinking about the history of the government and general elections.

Suffrage (the right to vote gained through the democratic process) on an equal basis for men and women was first established in the United Kingdom in 1929 and the first election was held on 30th May of the same year. It was declared a hung Parliament (which occurs when no single political party has an absolute majority of seats in the parliament).

The party that won the most votes was Labour with leader Ramsay Mc Donald. This election was often referred to as the “Flapper Election” in that it was the first election in which women aged 21 or over were allowed to vote, under the provisions of the Fifth Reform Act. Labour was in power until 1935 until the Conservatives took the next election on 14th November 1935.

The main parties in power throughout history are names you will all recognise. The Tories, Conservatives, Liberals and Labour. These four parties have been the foundation to the democratic process and are still at the forefront of the 2015 election.

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Between 1680s and 1850s we saw a party that you may not recognise today, The Whigs or the British Political Party. They took full control of the government for the first time in 1715. They believed that the consent of the people was the source of political power and authority and that monarchs were in power only as a result of a contract with the community. If the community believed that the reigning monarch had failed them, they had the right to resist him/her. They played a fundamental role in the 1688 Revolution that removed James from the throne and placed on it the more tolerant William and Mary. The Whigs were seen to be the party of privilege where money counted.

The Whigs are a centuries old political party and not one that many would have even heard of. However, a new Facebook Page has recently popped up that is trying to resurrect this party and their policies into the present day. Waleed Ghani announced this week that he will run for election near his south London home after officially registering the Whig Party with the Electoral Commission. Click here to find out more.

Even with suffrage in place, we have still had 13 out of 22 Prime Ministers  take  office without actually winning a general election. The two most will remember is Gordon Brown in 2007 and John Major in 1990, but most surprising was Winston Churchill in 1940. Churchill did not get a popular mandate until the 1951 General Election, 11 years after he started living in Downing Street!

I hope you have enjoyed my brief look into the history of politics and general elections, next week I will be reviewing policies of other countries and their general elections! 


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This post was written by Jessica Walters

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