PARLIAMENTARY REPRESENTATION (fn. 68)
BETHNAL GREEN, previously part of Hackney parliamentary constituency, was divided
between the two constituencies of Bethnal Green
North East and South West under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885. (fn. 69) They were
combined from 1950 to 1973 in a single Bethnal
Green constituency, which from 1974 was
combined with Bow (fn. 70) and from 1982 with
Stepney. (fn. 71) Bethnal Green North East was held
by the trade unionist George Howell for the
Liberal or 'Radical' party (fn. 72) from 1885 to 1895
and by the Indian lawyer M. M. (later Sir
Mancherjee) Bhownagree as a Conservative
from 1895 to 1905. (fn. 73) It reverted to the Liberals
under Sir Edwin Cornwall, Bt., chairman of the
L.C.C., from 1906 to 1922 and under the former
mayor, G. Edmonds, for a further year. Labour
held it from 1923 to 1929, the Liberal Nathan
(later Baron) Churt, a solicitor, from 1929 to 1933, (fn. 74)
and Labour thereafter. E. H. Pickersgill held
Bethnal Green South West for the Liberals
from 1885 to 1900 and from 1906 to 1911. S. Forde
Ridley, the Conservative member between 1900
and 1906, was supported by the Costermongers'
Union and by voters alarmed at Jewish immigration. (fn. 75) The Independent Labour party
contested a byelection in 1911 but lack of trade
union backing was probably responsible for
its low vote. (fn. 76) The Liberals won in 1911, the
Conservatives in 1914, and the Liberals again in
1922, when the Communist candidate Joe
Vaughan obtained 32 per cent of the vote. In 1924
Vaughan's share was 41 per cent and the Liberals'
42 per cent. Percy Harris (later Sir Percy, Bt.)
held the seat for the Liberals from 1922 to 1945
when it passed to P. Holman for Labour, who
held Bethnal Green's single seat from 1950 to
1966. Bethnal Green has remained Labour, Ian
Mikardo being the M.P. from 1974 to 1983 and
Peter Shore thereafter. (fn. 77) Communists put up
candidates in 1929, 1931, and 1950 and the National
Front in 1945, 1974, and 1979 from 1984 to 1986
there were attempts by the far Left to oust Shore. (fn. 78)
Although higher than at borough elections, the
turnout at parliamentary elections was usually
less than 70 per cent of the electorate and slightly
lower in Bethnal Green South West than in
Bethnal Green North East. The figures were 83
per cent in North East and 80 per cent in South
West in January 1910 and 83.5 per cent at a
byelection in South West in 1914. The lowest,
in 1918 after a considerable widening of the
franchise, were 31 per cent in North East and
41.6 per cent in South West. For the single
constituency the highest turnout was 77 per cent
in 1950 and the lowest 50.4 per cent in 1970.
||Except where otherwise stated, inf. on elections,
M.P.s., and voting percentages from F. W. S. Craig, Brit.
Parl. Election Results, 1832-85; 1885-1918; 1918-49; 1950-
||48 & 49 Vic. c. 23, 6th schedule.
||F. W. S. Craig, Boundaries of Parl. Constituencies
(1972), 173-5. From 1955 Bethnal Green constituency included part of Hackney M.B.: ibid. 49.
The Times, 14 May 1983, 4a.
||Bennett, 'East End Newspaper Opinion', 231; The
Times, 11 Jan. 1906, 10f.
The Daily Telegraph, 30 Apr. 1992.
||Samuel, E. End Underworld, 343.
The Times, 2 Jan. 1906, 4f; 16 Jan. 11c; Bennett, 'East
End Newspaper Opinion', 52.
The Times, 21 July 1911, 7f; 25 July, 13b; 31 July, 8e;
Bush, 'Labour politics and society in E. Lond.' 53.
The Times, 14 May 1983, 4a.
||Ibid. 1 Aug. 1984, 12b; 7 Mar. 1985, 10a; 25 May
1985, 2d; 20 Jan. 1986, 2h