‘Our present system of representation was an accumulated patchwork, composed partly of a little conviction, partly of a little concession, and partly of a little cowardice.’ So spoke Lewis Harcourt of the electoral system under which the 1910 elections were fought.1 That ‘patchwork’ was composed of five major acts passed a generation before — the Ballot Act (1872), the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act (1883), the Franchise Act (1884), the Redistribution Act (1885) and the Registration Act (1885) — plus a host of lesser measures passed over several centuries. Much of the electoral system, particularly the franchise and registration elements, had evolved haphazardly through a long process of cumulative legislation. As Lowell observed in 1908: ‘The present condition of the franchise is, indeed, historical rather than rational.’2
KeywordsElectoral System Labour Party Corrupt Practice Electoral District Plural Vote
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.