Rowntree A-Z

Politics in York

Though the Liberal party had made a big impact in the city in the 19th century, this was not to continue into the 20th century. The Labour Party emerged in the 1890s, but had no real triumphs either in local or parliamentary elections. By 1906 there were 31 ‘Independents’, 13 ‘Progressives’ and 4 ‘Labour’ members of the council, the labels of ‘Independent’ and ‘Progressive’ being used interchangeably for ‘Conservative’ and ‘Liberal’.

After the first world war, the Liberal party in opposition was replaced by Labour, although the Conservatives continued to dominate, and the city remained politically Conservative for much of the 20thcentury.  The same was true in parliamentary elections, and only in 1906 and 1910 was there a Liberal representation to add to the Conservative one, during the national period of Liberal revival. Arnold Rowntree was MP for York from 1910-1818 when he championed the cause of the Conscientious Objectors, to the dismay of many of his conservative opponents who successfully forced him out of office. Despite the growth of trade unionism and the large body of railwaymen, Labour was not to achieve control until 1945.

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