Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by pipisme, Oct 6, 2010.
Keep it up, pip!
In her speech Lady Gore-Langton said she had changed her opinion radically after seeing the extent of the poverty in her Bath constituency, away from the wealthy Georgian terraces. She had listened to the men and women, particularly the women, whose lives had been greatly improved by the laws enacted by Commonwealth Party governments such as the living wage and the mothers' allowance, which the Conservative Party had opposed. The Commonwealth Party best expressed her Christian convictions. She ended her speech by saying 'because I was elected as a Conservative I believe that I should seek re-election as a member of the Commonwealth Party. Therefore later today I will resign from this House in the usual way by applying for the Chiltern Hundreds.'
The government won the vote at the end of the debate on the second reading of the Poor Law Abolition Bill by 417 votes to 169 votes. Commonwealth and Irish Nationalist members voted for, Conservative and Liberal members against. After the Speaker had read out the result, the President of the Local Government Board, Robert Applegarth, announced that the committee stage would considered by a Committee of the Whole House, commencing on Tuesday 9 March 1875.
On Friday 12 February 1875 the Conservative Chief Whip moved the writ for the by-election in Bath because Lady Anna Gore-Langton was elected as a Conservative MP for that constituency. The by-election would be held on 5 March. Tories thought that a short election campaign would be to their advantage.
Lady Anna received much favourable comment in the press for her decision to resign her seat and fight a by-election, and was praised for her principled action. In the October 1874 she had a majority of 3,063 [16.2%]. She received 45.8% of the vote, the Commonwealth candidate 29.6% and the Liberal candidate 24.6%.
Before she changed parties Lady Anna Gore-Langton had been in negotiations with the Government Chief Whip and obtained assurances from him that it was not the policy of the Commonwealth Party to abolish the monarchy, or the House of Lords, or disestablish the Church of England; and that she would be free to vote against any legislation to give home rule to Ireland.
The Conservative candidate in the Bath by-election was Major Ralph Allen. He was born in 1817 and was appointed a major in the Royal Artillery in 1858. He lived in Hempton Manor near Bath. The Tories were fairly confident of keeping the seat. In the Isle of Thanet by-election on 27 January 1875 their majority over Commonwealth increased from 15.0% to 17.5%, because of a fall in the Liberal vote. The Liberal candidate was Arthur Divett Hayter born in 1835. The Liberals hoped to at least keep the vote they received at the general election.
The Commonwealth poured resources into the by-election. They flooded the constituency with leaflets in which Lady Anna Gore-Langton explained that she had left the Conservative Party and joined the Commonwealth Party because of the Social Insurance and Poor Law Abolition Bills, which the Tories opposed. The Liberals campaigned as the moderate and responsible opposition to the government.
The result was announced by the Returning Officer in Bath Town Hall on the night of 5 March 1875. After he had read out the votes for each candidate, he said 'and I hereby declare that the said Lady Anna Eliza Mary Gore-Langton is hereby elected to serve as member of Parliament for the said constituency.'
The percentage votes for each candidate in the Bath by-election were as follows [October 1874 general election]:
Lady Anna Gore-Langton [Commonwealth]: 37.2 [29.6]
Major Ralph Allen [Conservative]: 36.9 [45.8]
Arthur Divett Hughes [Liberal]: 25.9 [24.6]
Commonwealth majority: 0.3% or 67 votes [Conservative majority: 16.2% or 3,063 votes]
The swing from Conservative to Commonwealth was 8.25%.
The Liberals were moderately satisfied with their performance, having slightly increased their vote. The Tories gave the personal vote for Lady Gore-Langton, and the Liberals holding their vote as the reasons for their defeat. But while these were enough to push Lady Gore-Langton over the winning line they did not account for most of the fall in the Tory vote. Commentators attributed much of her victory to the Commonwealth Party campaigning heavily on the widows' and children's benefits in the Social Insurance Bill which the Tories opposed.
Lady Gore-Langton was fifty-five years old, having been born in February 1820.
Bath was not the only by-election on 5 March 1875. There was also one in the Commonwealth held seat of Worcestershire North caused by the appointment of Sir Rupert Kettle as a judge in the Court of Common Pleas. Kettle had been a Conservative but in March 1873 he crossed the floor and joined the Commonwealth Party and held Worcestershire North for Commonwealth in the October 1874 general election.
The result of the by-election was as follows [1874 general election]:
Eliza Mary Sturge [Commonwealth]: 43.1% [38.3%]
George Woodgate Hastings [Liberal]: 31.9% [27.5%]
Henry Allsopp [Conservative]: 25.0% [34.2%]
Commonwealth majority: 11.2% [4.1%]
Eliza Sturge was thirty-two years old and a member of the dynasty of Birmingham Quaker philanthropists. The modest revival in Liberal Party fortunes continued with the Bedfordshire Mid by-election on 28 April 1875, caused by the resignation of Francis Bassett [Liberal], The result of the by-election was as follows [October 1874 general election]:
Samuel Whitbread [Liberal]: 41.6% [39.5%]
Conservative candidate: 34.5% [38.2%]
Commonwealth candidate: 23.9 [22.3%]
Liberal majority: 7.1% [1.3%]
The swing from Conservative to Liberal was 2.9%.
Whitbread had been Liberal MP for Luton from 1853 until he lost his seat to the Commonwealth Party in the 1874 general election.
The result of the Stowmarket by-election on 17 June 1875 caused by the death of Lord Augustus Hervey [Conservative] on 28 May was as follows [October 1874 general election]:
Lord Pendlesham [Conservative]: 43.1% [46.2%]
Liberal candidate: 35.9% [34.3%]
Commonwealth candidate: 21.0% [19.5%]
Conservative majority: 7.2% [11.9%]
The swing from Conservative to Liberal was 2.35%.
The Social Insurance and Poor Law Abolition Bills made their way through all their stages in the House of Commons. The Conservative Party did not filibuster the debates and the bills reached the House of Lords in June and July 1875 respectively. As everyone expected the Lords rejected them on second reading, but by lesser than expected majorities of 37 and 34 respectively.
Timetable motions were not part of parliamentary procedure. There was a gentleman's agreement between the political parties not to obstruct parliamentary business. The Commonwealth Party knew that if they limited debate then the Conservatives would when they were in government.
The Parliament Act 1875 reduced the maximum term of a parliament from five years to four years. Therefore the latest date for the next general election was 13 October 1878, which was four years after Parliament met after the general election on 5 October 1874.
The Liberty and Property Defence League was formed in February 1875. It was dedicated to the defence of liberty and property against the rising tide of collectivist and socialist tyranny. It published leaflets and pamphlets and gave substantial amounts of money to the Conservative Party and Conservative candidates, and to ideologically sound Liberal candidates.
Caitlin O'Brien [Maire Griffiths' sister] and Stephen Kelly got married on 12 September 1874. As the weeks and months passed and she did not become pregnant Caitlin was very disappointed because she wanted to have children. She felt she was a failure and seeing women with babies intensified her unhappiness.
In early July 1875 she asked her sister Maire, who was pregnant with her fourth child, for advice. Maire suggested that she makes a novena [nine days prayer] to St. Brigid to conceive a child. She would make the novena and ask her Catholic friends to do so also.
In those days there was no way of knowing if Caitlin or Stephen was infertile.
Maire advised Caitlin to be patient about getting pregnant. Their aunt Niamh in Ireland had been married for nearly two years before she fell pregnant. Being anxious and worried when she and Stephen shag each other would damage her chances of conceiving. There is no shame if were infertile. Maire would keep praying that Caitlin would become pregnant. In November 1875 Caitlin missed her period, and missing her period confirmed that she was pregnant. Naturally she was overjoyed.
In early July 1875 a private members' bill to decriminalise homosexual activity between consenting men in private received its second reading in the House of Commons by 148 votes to 106 votes. But because the government did not give it parliamentary time, it did not proceed any further.
On 2 October 1875 Maire Griffiths gave birth to a still born baby in the twenty-ninth week of her pregnancy. It was a boy and was born dead. Her friend, Elizabeth Kelly acted as midwife. Naturally she was devastated by this dreadful experience, but her husband, Aneurin, gave her practical and emotional support, as did Nia,her sister-in-law, who had given birth to a still born girl five years previously, and her siblings and friends and relations.
After a funeral service in St. David's Priory, Maire and Aneurin's son, whom they had named Roderick, was buried in the churchyard. Caitlin asked Maire if Roderick was in heaven and she said she believed that God would would not deprive him of heaven, even tough he was not baptised.
On 12 June 1875 an article was published in the Beacon, the Commonwealth Party weekly newspaper, about working conditions of the female workforce in the Bryant and May match factory in Bow in east London. It described how the women and girls worked fifty-four hours a week, the legal maximum; how they were fined for being late and other reasons; and how they suffered from phossy jaw because they worked with white phosphorus. 
The article was by Alice Thompson, one of the workers in the factory. The following Monday the management told the workers that if they signed a statement contradicting the allegations in the article, Alice would not be sacked. They refused and fourteen hundred women and girl factory workers came out on strike.
 For phossy jaw see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phossy_jaw.
Keep it up, pip!
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