Saturday, December 29, 2018

Today -100: December 29, 1918: Of British elections, death tolls, and whither Ludendorff?


Berlin Rumors: Ebert has fallen and been replaced by Liebknecht.

The British general election was held two weeks ago but the vote counts are being released now because they were waiting for ballots from soldiers and sailors to trickle in from around the world. It’s a complicated election in that Conservatives and Liberals (well, most of them) fought under a “Coalition” label, not competing with each other. So, of the 707 seats in the House of Commons, 478 will be held by Coalition MPs, nearly 3/4 of whom are Tories. Lloyd George, an ostensible Liberal, will now be presiding over a basically Conservative government. Awkwaaaaaard. The Liberal Party has split, with 28 non-Coalition Liberal MPs headed by former Prime Minister Asquith, who loses his East Fife seat to Sir Alexander Sprot, which is exactly the name you’d expect a Tory colonel to have, as have most other Liberal former Cabinet members. The once great Liberal Party of Gladstone and Palmerston is basically done. Labour has 63 MPs, up from 42, and is now the de facto opposition party, increasingly absorbing former Liberal voters. However, future Labour prime minister Ramsay MacDonald, a pacifist, loses his seat, as does current Labour Party leader and pacifist Arthur Henderson. Sinn Féin sweeps Ireland outside of the North (and de Valera defeats Irish Nationalist leader John Dillon), winning 73 seats which they will not take up for obvious reasons (if nothing else, there’s a loyalty oath to the king they’d have to take). One of those Sinn Féiners is the Countess Constance Markievicz, who wins in Dublin, the only woman elected, garnering 66% of the vote without campaigning (she’s kind of in prison). 13 other woman candidates, including Christabel Pankhurst, Women’s Freedom League leader Charlotte Despard, and several other prominent suffragists, lose. (Note: my figures come from David Butler’s British Political Facts. Wikipedia differs.)

With estimates in from every country, the death toll from the Great War is estimated at 5,936,504 (that’s way too low).

Woodrow Wilson celebrates his 62nd birthday in London. The king gives him a set of books. I wonder what books?

Ridiculous Rumor of the Day -100: Former head of the German Army Erich Ludendorff has been hired by Lenin to head the Soviet Army.


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