Today is the anniversary of the 1918 general election. There were many unusual features about this election:
It was held on a Saturday, just five weeks after the end of the First World War - the first election for eight years.
Despite the deaths of 885,000 British troops in the war, the electorate tripled. Over 21 million people were eligible to vote in 1918 (including women over 30 years old), compared to only 7.7 million in 1910. But the turnout was only 58.9%. Spanish Flu was ravaging the population and young adults were particularly susceptible – 250,000 died in the UK. 24 MPs had been killed in the war – 15 Conservatives, 7 Liberals and 2 Irish Home Rulers.
This election was not actually the first time that women had been allowed to vote in Britain. Women had had the vote in elections for school boards since 1870 and, in theory at least, some women met the qualifications to vote in elections before the 1832 ‘Reform’ Act, although historians are still searching for evidence of whether any actually did vote.
The outcome of the 1918 election was a coalition government of Conservatives and Lloyd George Liberals, faced with a mountain of debt.