Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Elections: The Bowyer Period

The Verney family held almost hereditary rights to the Buckingham seat until 1918. The seat then went to the Conservatives in the person of George Bowyer. He was a QC, Eton and Oxford educated, married to one of the Mitford daughters, and very much the stereotype of the class-based MP of those days. Nevertheless he held the Buckingham seat from 1918 to 1937 and politically survived those turbulent years. Buckingham voters (for this read North Bucks) remained stable in their preferences. Bowyer was commemorated in the Bowyer Hall, a Conservative meeting hall in Bletchley. I don't know whether or not it is still there.
This was a turbulent period in British politics - although I suppose it was ever thus - rather, a period which saw the demise of the Liberal Party and the rise of the Labour Party. In 1918 the Labour Party had increased the number of seats held to 57; by 1929  they held numbers in the 200s although they suffered setbacks in the 1930s.. The Liberal Party was fragmenting during this period into competing groups and after the 1945 General Election were down to 12 seats. They remained in the political doldrums until they were reconstituted as the Liberal Democrats and perhaps we are now witnessing a reversal of fortune.
During this period the strength of the Labour Party grew in the Buckingham seat. At the by-election of 1937, when George Bowyer was elevated to the Lords, the Conservative candidate held on with a majority of 5,000 over the Labour candidate, although you can see their vote growing. A lot of the Labour votes, as I have remarked before, came from Wolverton and New Bradwell. As an interesting side note for Wolvertonians, the Liberal candidate in 1937 was E J Boyce, the redoubtable headmaster of Wolverton County School. He came third.

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