Courtesy Reuters

Trends in British Elections

ON November 14, 1935, the British people went to the polls. When the results were known, it was found that the same National Government had been returned to power which had emerged victorious in the general election of October 1931. The margin of victory was not so great as before. But the Government still had a majority of 247 seats.

ELECTION OF OCTOBER 1931
National Government
Conservatives (Baldwin) 470
National Liberals (Simon) 35
Liberals (Samuel) 33
National Labor (MacDonald) 13
National Independents 3
---
554
Opposition
Labor (Lansbury) 52
Independent Liberals (Lloyd George) 4
Independents 5
---
61

ELECTION OF NOVEMBER 1935
National Government
Conservatives (Baldwin) 387
National Liberals (Simon) 33
National Labor (MacDonald) 8
National Independents 3
---
431
Opposition
Labor (Atlee) 154
Liberals (Samuel) 17
Independent Liberals (Lloyd George) 4
Independent Labor 4
Independents 4
Communist 1
---
184

For the first time since 1918 the same party has been returned to power at two successive elections. The National (Conservative) Government first assumed office in October 1931. From its predecessor, the Labor Party, it inherited a hardly enviable situation. Yet in four years the Conservatives not only balanced the budget but produced a surplus; and while not eliminating unemployment they did at least decrease it. In the autumn of 1935 they played a preëminent rôle in the dispute between the League of Nations and Italy. They presented an able record; and the electorate endorsed it.

If the Conservatives possessed statesmen, the timing of the election showed that they also possessed politicians. Riding the full tide of their success at Geneva, the Conservatives dissolved parliament on October 25 and called for new elections. The Labor Party, the most important element in the Opposition, was caught unawares. Its leaders had assumed that there would probably be no general election until 1936. They not only lacked an effective panoply of war, but their opponents stole most of their thunder. The domestic policies of the two parties differed in degree but not in kind. In matters of foreign policy, Labor advocated a strong League. The Conservatives not only stood for a strong League: they could claim to have made the League strong. What is more important, Labor seemed to lack a vigorous desire to win. It merely hoped to increase its parliamentary representation by 200 seats. Even here it was disappointed: it gained half this number. Excluding the elections of 1906, 1918, and 1931, no election since 1832 has returned a party by such a tremendous majority as the National Government has just won. An unusual

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