The Liberals win the Hyde by-election

In a rare wartime contest, Liberal and coalition candidate, T.O. Jacobson, fought off a strong campaign by the Independent, D.P. Davies who polled 44%. The by-election was caused by the resignation of the previous, controversial Liberal MP, Francis Neilsen. Neilsen had been absent in the United States for almost a year due to ill-health and, also, was a known opponent of the war who had been accused of making ‘anti-British’ speeches. Soon after the by-election he published How Diplomats Make War which rejected the orthodoxy of sole German guilt. Davies’ campaign was run by former Liberal MP Horatio Bottomley’s political agent. He had hoped to fight it on an issue related to conscription but the campaign was hi-jacked by his candidate’s strong involvement with the drink trade and so was fought mainly in opposition to the increasing restrictions on alcohol. Davies’ campaign involved a number of innovations, including a daily campaign newspaper – praised by Lord Northcliffe. Davies received massive support from brewing interests – in the words of the publication, Liberal Agent they ‘sent in large drafts of publicans from a huge area around Hyde. It can readily be imagined what effect the presence of a thousand of these gentlemen had in one division’.