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6 August 2014

The Returning Officer: Liverpool Fairfield

Returning Officer

By Stephen Brasher

The constituency of Liverpool Fairfield was created for the 1918 general election. The coalition coupon was granted to the Liberal Captain Frank L’Estrange Joseph but he was opposed by the Unionist Major Jack Benn Brunel Cohen. Cohen, whose family ran the Lewis’s chain of department stores, had lost both legs at the third battle of Ypres in 1917. During the campaign, Cohen’s supporters suggested that Joseph was “posing as a military man”, as his commission had been given to him on his appointment to the recruiting division of the War Office, and asked if he had ever offered himself to the army. Cohen won and attended parliament in a wheelchair. In 1924, his Labour opponent was May Mercer. At the 1922 ILP conference, she had asked Philip Snowden about the lack of women candidates for the next election. He replied that it “was entirely a matter for local branches”. 
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