Monday, 15 May 2017

When the voters surprised everyone .......... stories behind the book nu 26 Harpurhey ..... October 1918

An occasional series on the stories behind the new book on Manchester and the Great War*

Manchester Guardian, October 1918
The National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers campaigned on behalf of those who had left the armed service, and in October of 1918 won a bye election in Harpurhey.

The Manchester branch of the Federation which had 3,900 local members argued that it should be represented on the City Council given that the Corporation employed such a large workforce.

Added to which it was already in dispute with several of the City Council’s departments including the Waterworks over sick pay and with another department over the promise of reinstatement for men who had enlisted.

Manchester Hulme December 1918
The result of the election was a win for the Federation whose candidate a Mr John Welan secured almost 61% of the total vote over his Labour opponent.   The election was fought on the new register which had been compiled after the extension of the vote to some women.

Two months later at the General Election the Federation fielded 30 candidates across the country, contesting the Manchester Hulme seat and that of Ashton-Under-Lyne.  In Hulme they came fourth taking 3.6 % of the total vote and in Ashton-Under-Lyne they polled 41.7% vote.

And in Ashton-Under-Lyne  the Federation’s election agent had commented that “in some of the wards the pledges redeemed for the ex-soldier represented 3 to 1 in their favour.  Virtually the whole of the ‘back streets’ were solid and would also be a strong soldier’s vote.” 

Now that's a story and one that is worthy of a much bigger study.

*A new book on Manchester and the Great War

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