The Rise of Election Campaigns in Britain, 1892-1931

The Rise of Election Campaigns in Britain
"The Only Hope is Tariff Reform," British Conservative Party Election Poster, 1906

Project Co-Directors: Laura Bronner, PhD Candidate, London School of Economics; Daniel Ziblatt, Harvard University

In Britain, one crucial aspect of political representation about which relatively little is known is the evolution of the link between partisanship at the elite level, as expressed in the Houses of Parliament, and partisanship in the electorate. While existing parliamentary data can tell us about the former and demographic data can tell us about the latter, understanding patterns of representation and accountability require us to know how politicians engaged with their constituents in the past and when and how modern links of democratic accountability developed. This project digitizes the universe of 30,000 "election addresses" or election manifestos by all MP candidates for the British House of Commons candidates between 1892 and 1931. These election addresses, written statements or flyers released by all parliamentary candidates prior to general elections (and by-elections), were distributed free of charge to all registered voters in every election district by the Royal Mail. Drawing on original collection of the National Liberal Club but currently held by Bristol University, the results will be an analyzable text file of 30,000 election addresses.