Should Labour have contested the 1918 General Election?

Breanainn

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The traditional explanation given is that Labour abstained to give SF a clear run at the pursuit of independence, but outside of Ulster, the challenge to SF was derisory, and indeed, most Twenty-Six County constituencies were uncontested because their Home Rule party organisations were already virtually defunct. Historians will point to the 1922 election as vindication for Labour's decision, but a restricted field of candidates indicates that a 1918 contest would have been necessary for the party to develop nationwide support, and there would have been little reason not to participate as part of an SF-Labour agreed slate of candidates, given shared policies of abstentionism and republicanism. So, was 1918 really the Irish left's greatest own-goal, or would Labour's support level have been the same regardless?
 


Nitrogen

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The traditional explanation given is that Labour abstained to give SF a clear run at the pursuit of independence, but outside of Ulster, the challenge to SF was derisory, and indeed, most Twenty-Six County constituencies were uncontested because their Home Rule party organisations were already virtually defunct. Historians will point to the 1922 election as vindication for Labour's decision, but a restricted field of candidates indicates that a 1918 contest would have been necessary for the party to develop nationwide support, and there would have been little reason not to participate as part of an SF-Labour agreed slate of candidates, given shared policies of abstentionism and republicanism. So, was 1918 really the Irish left's greatest own-goal, or would Labour's support level have been the same regardless?
Of course they should have.

And Sinn Fein shouldn't have contested the 2017 UK GE if their intention is to stand idly by while the Tories and DUP drive on with Brexit
 

Catalpast

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They made the correct decision to abstain IMO

That way the whole election came down to one issue:

Was Ireland to have her own Parliament or not?

The People of Ireland voted overwhelmingly in favour of Ireland having her own Parliament

Sadly that still has not been achieved .....
 

Telstar 62

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Labour, not for the last time, bottled it.

They then had to listen to creepy Dev pontificating for
decades that 'Labour must wait'.......
 

Vega1447

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Of course they should have.

And Sinn Fein shouldn't have contested the 2017 UK GE if their intention is to stand idly by while the Tories and DUP drive on with Brexit

Gwan out of that. You'd have wanted SF to take their seats in Westminster in 1918 too I'd say.
 

The_SR

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It's an interesting one. It unquestionably set them back and they never fully recovered. It removed them from the state building project and allowed the SF second tier run the show. I think it was well intentioned but naive.

Is there a reason they didn't also run on an independence ticket?
 

McTell

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No
The traditional explanation given is that Labour abstained to give SF a clear run at the pursuit of independence, but outside of Ulster, the challenge to SF was derisory, and indeed, most Twenty-Six County constituencies were uncontested because their Home Rule party organisations were already virtually defunct. Historians will point to the 1922 election as vindication for Labour's decision, but a restricted field of candidates indicates that a 1918 contest would have been necessary for the party to develop nationwide support, and there would have been little reason not to participate as part of an SF-Labour agreed slate of candidates, given shared policies of abstentionism and republicanism. So, was 1918 really the Irish left's greatest own-goal, or would Labour's support level have been the same regardless?

Not much differ. The 1920 local elections show up to 20% support for Labour.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_local_elections,_1920

Arthur Griffith and some Labour members thought in 1918-19 that a series of general strikes would be better than a "war of independence", but the younger members wanted their war, because what could possibly go wrong?
 

Dimples 77

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They made the correct decision to abstain IMO

That way the whole election came down to one issue:

Was Ireland to have her own Parliament or not?

The People of Ireland voted overwhelmingly in favour of Ireland having her own Parliament

Sadly that still has not been achieved .....


No they didn't.

Please provide the relevant numbers.
 

Dimples 77

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They made the correct decision to abstain IMO

That way the whole election came down to one issue:

Was Ireland to have her own Parliament or not?

The People of Ireland voted overwhelmingly in favour of Ireland having her own Parliament

Sadly that still has not been achieved .....

That wasn't the one issue.
 

inherit the deficit

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I have posted this link here on another thread some time ago and I see no harm in posting it again.

The Irish General Election of 1918

It seems pretty certain that Sinn Féin would have had a majority of the votes if all the seats had been contested. In the contested seats where they won, the total valid vote was 617,262 of an electorate of 907,903 (68.0%); and SF got 414,394 votes out of 619,649 (66.9%). The 25 uncontested constituencies had a total electorate of 474,778; if we assume an identical average turnout and SF vote share, that gives 322,790 extra votes cast, 216,703 for SF and 106,087 for others. This gives SF at least 692,790 votes of a notional Ireland-wide total of 1,306,465, or at least 53.0%. The 66.9% vote share for SF in constituencies they would have won is a very conservative estimate; in nine of the contested constituencies they got over 80% of the vote and their likely vote share in the uncontested seats must be nearer that end of the scale. For their total vote share to be less than 50% (assuming the 68.0% turnout) their vote share in the 25 uncontested seats would have had to be an unrealistically low 54.7%.
Factor in as well the All for Ireland League were on good terms with the SFers and stood aside. While Laurence Ginnell and James O'Mara joined SF after varying amounts of time after being in the IPP.
 

Dame_Enda

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Right decision the constitutional issue was priority because we can't address poverty etc unless you have a government. It may have helped marginalise the party for decades though as their issues were sidelined by Home Rule, then the Treaty, then the Civil War and Civil War politics. In NI their issues were sidelined by Orange v Green.
 

McTell

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No
various unionist 29.2% 26 seats
Various nationalist 69.4% 79 seats
Various non unionist labour 1.3% -
Independent .1% -

The SF vote would have been lower if we had known that they were going to start a war in a month, at a time when the rest of the world was ending WW1.

Labour had been run by furriners like Connolly and Larkin, and were anti-Catholic. Part of their reason for keeping a low profile in 1918 was the news about Lenin in Russia 1917-18. Religion abolished etc. Labour's 20% in 1920 was a good result for them.
 

Henry94.

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I think it was the only possible decision at the time and Labour did reasonably well as a party afterwards considering the rural and conservative nature of the state. It is more recent political calls that have done for Labour.
 

realistic1

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They made the correct decision to abstain IMO

That way the whole election came down to one issue:

Was Ireland to have her own Parliament or not?

The People of Ireland voted overwhelmingly in favour of Ireland having her own Parliament

Sadly that still has not been achieved .....
and sadly if this is achieved in the future, it will be a Parliament that is subservient to an EU Parliament.
 

McTell

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No

Se0samh

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The SF vote would have been lower if we had known that they were going to start a war in a month, at a time when the rest of the world was ending WW1.

Labour had been run by furriners like Connolly and Larkin, and were anti-Catholic. Part of their reason for keeping a low profile in 1918 was the news about Lenin in Russia 1917-18. Religion abolished etc. Labour's 20% in 1920 was a good result for them.
Supposition....
 


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