A draw in the General Election - both sides get 272 seats

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A draw in the General Election - both sides get 272 seats

The 20th of December 1910 AD

In what was the last British General Election held over more than one day (voting took place between December 3 and December 19) the unsatisfactory deadlock which had arisen in the election that January continued, indeed it worsened when the results came through on December 20. In the January poll Asquith 's Liberals had held a slim majority over the Conservatives, with 274 seats to 272. In December's re-run if the one Independent Conservative is added to the official party's MPs then the seats held were an exact tie, 272 to 272.
As with the January election the Conservatives in fact won the popular vote, this time with 2.3 million to the Liberal's 2.2 million, but Asquith remained in power by doing a deal with Irish Nationalist MPs, for which he naturally had to promise future favours.
This was a time of great political change, with the rise of the Labour Party in the background - though they won just 42 seats they in fact only contested 56 - the push for votes for women - to which Asquith remained opposed - and the looming fight over the power of the House of Lords. As regards the Lords Asquith had persuaded Edward VII to back him in packing the upper chamber should his government be stale-mated by their lordships, only to see Edward die that May and be succeeded by George V , who was very wary of taking on the aristocracy so soon in his reign. In spite of this George V eventually backed his PM, and the power of the Lords, if not broken, was in future reduced when Asquith was able to pass the Parliament Act in 1911.
An aspect of the 1910 election which is striking to the modern observer is that there were so few parties taking part, just 12 in total, with none of the often weird and wonderful minority parties seen today, though there was one Scottish Prohibition candidate, and an Independent who managed to garner the votes of an embarrassing 57 supporters.

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On this day:
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