By-elections in the period 1911–1914 have been intensely scrutinised, both by Edwardian\ud politicians and historians. For politicians, they were a crucial measure of public opinion at\ud a time of intense party warfare, even though their results were capable of a variety of\ud interpretations. Historians have shared these disagreements, both over how well Labour\ud was performing and whether the Conservatives’ results showed they could be confident of\ud victory over the Liberals in a future general election. This article re-examines these\ud controversies and analyses to what extent perceptions of by-election trends influenced\ud politicians’ political calculations and how much weight can be placed on by-election\ud results in 1911–1914 as indications of the parties’ longer term future
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