Leeds Parliamentary Election Results
Under the Redistribution of the Seats Act 1885 Leeds was now divided into five constituencies
1885 - 25th November
G. W. Balfour (Conservative) 4,589
J. Barran (Liberal) 4,275
R. Dawson (Conservative) 3,849
J. L. Gane (Liberal) 3,504
W. L. Jackson (Conservative) 4,494
A. W. Rucker (Liberal) 4,237
Sir L. Playfair (Liberal) 5,208
S. C. Macaskie (Conservative) 2,869
H. J. Gladstone (Liberal) 6,130
W. Wheelhouse (Conservative) 3,804
In June 1885 Gladstone’s Government resigned and Lord Salisbury and the Conservatives came to power but called an election in November. Gladstone’s Liberals were the largest party winning 319 seats compared with the Conservatives 249. However, Charles Stewart Parnell’s Irish Party held the balance of power with 86 seats. Two days before the polls opened Parnell had issued a manifesto instructing all mainland Irishmen to vote against Gladstone’s Liberals as they had failed to support Home Rule. In Leeds East, where there was a large Irish community, making up about a quarter of the electorate there, Parnell’s dictum played an important part.
According the Liberal Leeds Mercury, Gane, the Liberal candidate, found himself up against the Irish Nationalists, a coalition of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, and the publican lobby. The Tories and the brewers were fighting the Liberal Nonconformists over proposals to impose duties on beer and spirits. Dawson the Conservative, was an Irishman with a gift for oratory, offered a version of, what the Leeds Times described as, ‘strongly diluted Conservatism’. Added to that Father O’Reilly had urged Roman Catholics ‘to obey the dictates of Mr Parnell’. Dawson also had the advantage that he could draw on twice the number of carriages Gane had at his disposal. The weather did not help being poor all day with cold and drizzling rain.