Coupons (I)

In the 1918 election more than 1,500 candidates stood, with and without a letter of endorsement (the "coupon") from the prime minister, Lloyd George. At least 248 of them displayed military rank.

The most distinguished hopeful was General Sir Archibald Hunter, GCB GCVO DSO, elected as a Coalition Conservative for Lancaster, having served variously in Sudan, South Africa, India and as governor of Gibraltar.

Rear Admiral Sir Guy Gaunt stood as a Coalition Liberal far away from the sea at Leek, but lost to a Labour textile leader, William Bromfield. Gaunt had spent most of the war as "naval attaché" to the US, which is likely to have meant espionage work.

Although he was later elected to parliament for the Buckrose (Bridlington) constituency in 1922, he had to resign four years later after being cited in
a notorious divorce case involving the wife of King George V's optician.

This article first appeared in the 25 October 2010 issue of the New Statesman, What a carve up!