The Returning Officer: Portsmouth South I

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In 1922, Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Wilson left his seat at Reading for the safer berth of Westminster St Georges, which he lost. As Wilson was the Tory chief whip, the party prevailed on Major Cayzer, MP for Portsmouth South, to stand down “due to ill health”. Wilson was opposed by Commander George Thomas, a retired naval officer who had helped to defeat Wilson in Westminster. Wilson won but resigned less than a year later to become the governor of Bombay.

Cayzer, now recovered, returned for the second by-election, beating the Liberal Henry Lawson, who had been deputy chief of the imperial general staff (1914-15). 

This article appears in the 27 August 2014 issue of the New Statesman, The new caliphate