British Electoral System and Political Issues

October 17, 1924

Report Outline
British Electoral System and Political Issues
Comparison of British and American Systems
The Trend in Post-War Politics

British Electoral System and Political Issues

For the first time in history a Presidential election in the United States and a General Election in Great Britain will this year take place almost simultaneously. On October 29 the British voters will choose afresh all members of the House of Commons. On November 4 the voters of this country will choose afresh all their representatives in the lower house of Congress, one third of the Senate and the President. Although British voters have direct control over the personnel of only one chamber in Parliament, a General Election in Great Britain is in some respects of greater political significance than a presidential election in the United States, for British sovereignty is largely concentrated in the House of Commons.

Issues in the British Election

The specific issue, which led to the downfall of Great Britain's first Labor government, and the present appeal to the country, was not one of national importance. Premier Mac Donald's course in forcing the impending overthrow of his government on a relatively trivial issue has been condemned by his opponents, but is praised by his supporters an exercise of the keenest political strategy.

The acting editor of an obscure Communist weekly of negligible circulation was accused of publishing an article of seditious intention. By action of the Labor Attorney General, Sir Patrick Hastings, the prosecution, which had been started, was dropped. A resolution asking an inquiry into the case by a non-partisan Parliamentary committee was introduced in the House by the Liberal leader, Mr. Asquith. At the time of its introduction none of the Liberal organs regarded the move as an attempt to overthrow the Government, and there is little doubt that its sole intention was to warn the Labor Party that the Liberals intended to keep check on them. Mr. Mac Donald, however, emphasized the doctrine of ministerial responsibility, charged that the resolution impugned the capacity and official honor of his Attorney General, and served notice that he would treat the vote on the resolution as one of confidence, or no confidence in his administration.

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