The 1918 ‘coupon’ general election

Just 24 hours after the Armistice had been signed with Germany, Lloyd George announced his decision to hold an election in alliance with his Coalition partners and Parliament was accordingly dissolved on 14 November 1918. The ensuing contest shattered the Liberal Party by formalising wartime divisions and providing a clear distinction between those Liberals who supported Lloyd George and those who continued to stand by Asquith.

The 1931 general election

The National Government was formed in August 1931, following the failure of Ramsay Macdonald's minority Labour administration to deal with the mounting unemployment that was paralysing Britain. The Conservatives had been pressing for the adoption of protection throughout the proceeding period and the public were becoming increasingly frustrated by the apparent ineffectiveness of the free trade policy, that had underpinned Britain's economic policy since the repeal of the Corn Laws. In contrast, the majority of Liberals remained distinctly opposed to the introduction of protection, which they associated with inflated food prices, vested interests and international conflict. The new administration was therefore far from harmonious.

Journal articles

The Liberal Democrat performance in the 2019 European election

Analysis of the Liberal Democrat vote in May 2019

Letters to the Editor

Elections in Glasgow (Michael Steed)

‘Vote for Mr Crum and one other Liberal’

The origin of two 1874 election leaflets.

The general election of 1874

Analysis of the reasons behind the crushing Liberal defeat in 1874

A Chapter of Autobiography as campaign document

Examination of the role played by the publication of Gladstone’s pamphlet during the 1868 election campaign

The general election of 1868

Discussion of the results of the election that brought the Liberals to power

The 1918 Coupon Election and its Consequences

Evening meeting, 2 July 2018, with Alistair Cooke and Kenneth O. Morgan; chair: Claire Tyler

Election 2017 – A Missed Opportunity?

Evening meeting, 5 February 2018, with James Gurling and Professor Phil Cowley; chair: Baroness Olly Grender.

Letters to the Editor

Nelia Penman (Graeme Peters); Lloyd George and Nonconformity (Kenneth O. Morgan); French elections (Ian Stuart); The 2017 election (Trevor Jones and Richard Pealling)

Agents at work

Review of Kathryn Rix, Parties, Agents and Electoral Culture in England 1880–1910 (Boydell Press, 2016)

Letters to the Editor

The 1915 general election (Graem Peters, Peter Rowland); Chris Rennard
interview (Barry Standen, Roger Jenking)

The 2017 election: a missed opportunity?

An examination of the Liberal Democrat performance in the 2017 election

The changing face of election campaigning

An interview with Chris Rennard, former Director of Campaigns and Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats, about election campaigning.

The Liberal Party and the general election of 1915

What could have happened in the general election due in 1915 but postponed because of the war.

Eric Lubbock and the Orpington moment

A Lancashire miner in Walthamstow

Sam Woods and the by-election of 1897.

Report: Catastrophe: the 2015 election campaign and its outcome

Evening meeting of the Liberal History Group, 19 July 2015.

Coalition and the 2015 election

Targeting and its effect on Liberal Democrat performance in the 2015 general election; Can Liberals learn from history?

The 2015 election campaign and its outcome

Analyses of the election result, and a look at what happened to the party’s campaigning machine.

Who votes for the Liberal Democrats? And why?

Review of Andrew Russell and Edward Fieldhouse, Neither Left nor Right? The Liberal Democrats and the Electorate (Manchester University Press, 2005).

What the voters saw

Review of Emily Robinson & Justin Fisher, General Election 2005 – What the Voters Saw (New Politics Network, 2005).

‘A sign of arrival…’

Review of Alan Mumford, Stabbed in the Front: Post-War General Elections Through Political Cartoons (University of Kent, 2001).

Party agents 1880-1914

Professionalisation and political culture.

Who votes for the Liberal Democrats?

Examination of the sources of electoral support for the Liberal Democrats.

Decline and fall: the Liberal Party and the elections of 1922, 1923 and 1924

Report of a Liberal Democrat History Group meeting, February 2014, with Michael Steed, Professor Pat Thane and Dr Julie Smith.

2010 analysed

Review of Robert Worcester and Roger Mortimore, Explaining Cameron’s Coalition (Biteback Publishing, 2011).

A forgotten Liberal-Conservative alliance

The Constitutionalists and the 1924 election – a new party or a worthless coupon?

250 High Streets later…

Review of Mark D’Arcy & Rory Maclean, Nightmare! The Race to Become London’s Mayor (Politico’s Publishing, 2000).

Report: 1974 remembered

Report of LDHG meeting of September 1999, on the 1974 elections, with Tim Beaumont, Viv Bingham, Sir Cyril Smith, Paul Tyler MP and Richard Wainwright.

Simon and Southwark, Bermondsey

Analysis of how Simon Hughes came to be selected for the apparently unwinnable seat of Southwark, Bermondsey.

The newcomer

The story of the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray’s spirited performance on the Oxford hustings in 1857.

Victory at Paisley

Asquith’s return to Parliament in 1920.

So how well did we do?

A critical look at the Liberal Democrats’ performance in the 1997 election.

1945 and all that

The 1945 election was a stunning Labour victory, but what did it mean for the Liberal Party?


The Labour Party’s performance in the 1997 general election took even its most optimistic supporters by surprise. How does the result look when compared with previous election landslides? And what might happen now?

The Sutton & Cheam by-election

The Sutton & Cheam by-election was won for the Liberal Party in December 1972. Jennifer Tankard interviews the victor, Graham (now Lord) Tope.

The lessons of Orpington

Analysis of the importance of the by-election result for the Liberal Party.

Fighting Orpington

The stunning by-election victory of Orpington in 1962 was the high point of the first Liberal revival. Eric Lubbock (now Lord Avebury) was the candidate.

Report: Landslide for the left

Report of LDHG meeting of September 1996, on the 1906 election, with John Grigg and Andrew Adonis.

The Liberal Party’s performance in 1945

Continuing the debate over the Liberal Party and the 1945 general election.

The Liberal performance in 1945

Contribution to the continuing debate over the 1945 election: response to earlier Newsletter articles.

The Liberal Party and the 1945 election

Personal recollections of the Liberal Party’s campaign in the 1945 general election.

The 1936 Preston by-election

A look at the tensions the by-election caused for Liberal National and Conservative coalition partners.

Honiton, Dumfriesshire and the Lloyd George Fund

The use of the Lloyd George Fund in two constituencies in the 1929 election.

Disappointment or bridgehead?

Liberal Democrat performance in the 2005 election.

Berwick-upon-Tweed: A venal borough?

Berwick’s reputation for electoral corruption during the nineteenth century, and the impact of bribery on voting behaviour.

Religion and politics

Religion and politics. The impact of the Bradlaugh case on the Berwick-upon-Tweed by-elections of 1880 and 1881.

Sepctacular victories

Liberal wins against the odds at general elections.

The Liberal Party and general elections

Report of Liberal Democrat History Group meeting of February 2003, with David Butler and Neil Stockley.

What went wrong at Darlington?

Original memo on the 1983 by-election disaster, plus commentary.

Every vote for Llewelyn Williams is a vote against Lloyd George

Examination of the February 1921 by-election in Cardiganshire, where Asquithian and Lloyd George Liberals engaged in bitter internecine warfare.

Value for money

The story of novelist Anthony Trollope’s campaign for Beverley in Yorkshire in 1868.

The 2001 election

Examination of the Liberal Democrat performance in the election of 7 June 2001, with lessons for the party’s future strategy.

The 2005 general election

Reviews of Andrew Geddes & Jonathan Tonge (eds.), Britain Decides The UK General Election 2005 (Palgrave, 2005), John Bartle & Anthony King (eds.), Britain at the Polls 2005 (CQ Press, 2005), Dennis Kavanagh & David Butler, The British General Election of 2005 (Palgrave, 2005), Pippa Norris & Christopher Wlezien (eds.), Britain Votes 2005 (Oxford University Press, 2005).

Hastings in 1900

The ‘khaki election’ of 1900 saw the Liberals performing poorly. This article examines one seat they gained from the Conservatives.

The Inverness turning point

How the Liberals’ near-miss in the Inverness by-election of 1954 proved a turning point in the party’s fortunes.

Liberal civil war: Denbigh, Oldham and the 1935 election

The story of two constituencies where Liberals and Liberal Nationals fought each other at the 1935 general election.

Elections 2007

Analysis of the outcomes of the local, Scottish and Welsh elections of May 2007. What do they mean for the Liberal Democrats?

Liberals and the 1945 election (1)

Review of Malcolm Baines, The Liberal Party and the 1945 General Election (Contemporary Record 9:1, Summer 1995).

The 1908 Hastings by-election

The story of the first by-election to be fought after the introduction of the Liberal government’s 1908 legislative programme.

The 2010 election

Has the mould of British politics finally cracked?

The 1910 and 2010 elections

Continuity and change in election campaigning.

The 2010 election in historical perspective

Report of the Liberal Democrat History Group conference fringe meeting held at Liverpool, 19 September 2010, with John Curtice, Denis Kavanagh and James Gurling; chair: Tony Little.

The Liberal electoral agent in the post-Reform-Act era

An analysis of the activities of the Liberal electoral agents in the period after the Great Reform Act.

Report: Election 2005 in historical perspective

with John Curtice, Andrew Russell and Chris Rennard

Letters to the Editor: Issue 69

James Bryce (Sandy S. Waugh); Liberals and the left (Peter Hatton); The 2010 election: missed opportunity (Martin Pugh); The Gower primary of 1905 (Kenneth O. Morgan); Samuel Morton Peto and his relatives (Sandy S. Waugh).

Letters to the Editor: Issue 74

The 2010 election and the coalition (Michael Meadowcroft); Pat Collins (Lionel King); Punch and cartoons (Andy Connell); Henry George the socialist (Sandy Waugh).

Liberals and the 1945 election (2)

Review of Peter Joyce, The Liberal Party and the 1945 General Election (Liberal Democrat History Group, Sept. 1995).


The 1918 coupon election and its consequences

In November 1918, just 24 hours after the Armistice had been signed with Germany, the Liberal Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, announced his decision to hold a general election. Selected coalition candidates received a signed letter of endorsement from Lloyd George and the Conservative leader Andrew Bonar Law. The 1918 election thus became known as […]

Election 2017 – a missed opportunity?

The Liberal Democrats entered the 2017 general election campaign with high hopes: they were the only major UK-wide party unequivocally to oppose Brexit, and the campaign followed months of encouraging local government by-election results. But the outcome was a disappointment: a further fall in the vote from the catastrophic result in 2015, and four losses […]

Catastrophe: The 2015 Election Campaign and its Outcome

NOTE VENUE AND START TIME CHANGE The venue of this meeting has changed from the National Liberal Club to the House of Lords (Committee Room 1), and the start time from 6.30pm to 6.45pm. There are several votes in the Lords on Monday, and our chair and one of our speakers are both Liberal Democrat […]

Decline and Fall: the Liberal Party and the general elections of 1922, 1923 and 1924

For the Liberal Party, the three general elections of 1922,1923 and 1924 represented a terrible journey from postwar disunity to reunion, and near return to government to dramatic and prolonged decline. Arguably, this was the key period which relegated the Liberals to the third-party status from which they have still never escaped. The Liberal Democrat […]

Election 2005 in historical perspective

The 2005 election saw the Liberal Democrats win a higher number of seats than at any time since 1923, and, for the second election in a row, gain both votes and seats after a period of Labour government – a historically unprecedented achievement. Yet many had hoped for an even better result, and the election […]

1974 Remembered

The two elections of 1974 formed a peak of the second post-war Liberal revival, giving the party six million votes but no more than fourteen MPs. Participants in the campaigns – including Tim Beaumont, Viv Bingham, Adrian Slade, Sir Cyril Smith, Paul Tyler MP and Richard Wainwright – shared their recollections of the elections.

Election 2010 in historical perspective

The 2010 election must rank as one of the strangest in the history of the Liberal Democrats or its predecessor parties. Britains first-ever television debates saw the party catapulted into the front rank of news coverage. Yet after successive opinion polls regularly showed the Lib Dems in at least second place, the result was a […]