The impact of the Representation of the People Act of 1918 on the politics of the West Midlands

Cawood, Ian (2018) The impact of the Representation of the People Act of 1918 on the politics of the West Midlands. Parliamentary History, 37 (1). pp. 81-100. ISSN 1750-0206

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Despite the impact of the Representation of the People Act (1918) on the political culture of the west midland region in the inter-war years, the elements of continuity in the politics of the region are striking. The Labour Party failed to dislodge the Unionists’ political control in the region (with the exception of the Black Country) for most of the 1920s and 1930s, despite the presence of a significant industrial working class population in the bulk of the region’s constituencies. The article argues that the lack of significant redistribution of seats in the region, despite wartime growth in all urban areas, enabled the well-organised and well-funded Unionist organisations controlled by Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain to adapt the cross-class, non-denominational message to appeal to the newly enlarged electorate. Although the Labour Party appeared on the brink of a breakthrough in the west midlands, owing to this ‘franchise factor’, the Unionists adapted better to the new age of mass communications and political sloganeering which replaced the Edwardian politics of confrontation and public meetings. The Representation of the People Act of 1918 may have changed the political culture of elections in Britain, but, in the west midlands at least, it did not alter the Unionists’ ability to manage the outcomes of the elections.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of of Arts, Society and Professional Studies > Department of Art and Humanities
Depositing User: Jane Faux
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2017 14:22
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2020 06:10

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