Imagine the shock of a Tory Woman from Plymouth beating a Liberal favourite from Cornwall…

To be beaten by a Tory woman was quite a shock, especially as the national party was so openly opposing the local Liberal favourite

The shock of being beaten by a woman from Plymouth, who had no political experience to speak of, was quite a shock. It was compounded by the fact that the national leadership of the party was actively opposing a local Liberal candidate and writing letters in support of the Tory opponent.

But, nonetheless, ninety years on it is time to remember Nancy Astor’s election to Parliament, beating the local Liberal champion, Isaac Foot.

It was a strange campaign in the 1919 Plymouth Sutton by-election. Isaac Foot, the local Liberal, contested the seat against a candidate who had the backing of the Liberal Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, despite Nancy Astor being a Tory. But, as part of the Coalition agreement which Lloyd George had entered for the 1918 General Election only those candidates in receipt of the ‘coupon’ could stand for the Coalition Government.

So, Isaac Foot contested the election as an ‘Asquithian’ Liberal candidate, against a candidate with the backing of the Liberal Prime Minister.

As Nancy Astor had the support of both the Conservative Leader and the Liberal Prime Minister, as well as contesting the seat vacated by her husband, it is perhaps no surprise that she became the first woman to win a seat in Parliament and take it up.*

Despite this brief setback for Isaac Foot he returned three years later to win the Bodmin by-election in 1922, presently the South East Cornwall constituency, winning the seat off a Conservative Coalition candidate, who also received the backing of the Tory/Liberal Coalition government in London. But, with no Labour candidate standing Foot romped home undermining the coalition, which was to finally collapse later that year.

*Although Countess Markiewicz did win a seat in Parliament she never took her seat due to Sinn Fein policy.
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