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William Pringle (Liberal politician)

For other people named William Pringle, see William Pringle (disambiguation).

William Mather Rutherford Pringle (22 January 1874 – 1 April 1928) was a Liberal Party politician in the United Kingdom who served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1910 to 1918 and again from 1922 to 1924.

Pringle was educated at Glasgow University and was called to the Bar of the Middle Temple in 1904.

Political career

He first stood for parliament at the 1906 elections;

General Election 1906: Glasgow Camlachie [1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Unionist Alexander Cross 3,119 36.4
Liberal William Mather Rutherford Pringle 2,871 33.5
Labour Joseph Burgess 2,568 30.0
Liberal Unionist hold Swing

Pringle was elected as member for Lanarkshire North West in January 1910. It was an exceptional result as it was one of only a handful of gains made by the Liberal party at those elections, and achieved, despite the presence of a Labour candidate.

General Election Jan 1910: North West Lanarkshire
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Mather Rutherford Pringle 8,422
Conservative William Mitchell-Thomson 7,528
Labour Robert Small 1,718
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing
General Election Dec 1910: North West Lanarkshire [2]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Mather Rutherford Pringle 9,315
Conservative Arthur Stanley Pringle 8,486
Liberal hold Swing

In 1914, as a back-bench Liberal MP, he supported Britain going to war in Europe but he opposed the introduction of Conscription being planned by Asquith. Although Pringle remained a supporter of the party led by Asquith, he was very critical of the party leader during the war. After the war, he returned to being a strong supporter of Asquith. He was described as "one of the ablest Parliamentary tacticians of the 20th Century" and also as "one of the most intransigeant and pertinacious of anti-Lloyd George Liberals".[3] In 1916, when Lloyd George took over as Prime Minister, Pringle, along with James Hogge, became the most vocal critics of the Prime Minister from the Liberal benches. After the war, the Pringle-Hogge partnership ended when Pringle became a loyal supporter of Asquith, while Hogge looked to Lloyd George for peacetime inspiration.[4] His Lanarkshire seat was abolished as part of the boundary changes for the 1918 elections, so he had to look for a new seat. Standing as a Liberal without the support from the Coalition government, he unsuccessfully contested Glasgow Springburn at the 1918 general election

General Election 1918: Glasgow Springburn [5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Coalition Unionist Frederick Alexander Macquisten 10,786 52.7 N/A
Labour George Hardie 7,996 39.1 N/A
Liberal William Mather Rutherford Pringle 1,669 8.2 N/A
Majority 2,790 13.6 N/A
Turnout 20,451 60.9 N/A
Coalition Unionist win (new seat)

He sought a return to parliament at Rusholme at a by-election in 1919. During the Rusholme by-election, he declared for a Capital Levy which was not party policy.[6]

Manchester Rusholme by-election, 1919

Electorate 30,421

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist John Henry Thorpe 9,394 45.7 -20.4
Labour Dr. Robert Dunstan 6,412 31.2 +15.6
Liberal William Mather Rutherford Pringle 3,923 19.1 -0.2
National Party Roger Bowan Crewdson 815 4.0 n/a
Majority 2,982 14.5 -31.3
Turnout 67.5
Unionist hold Swing

Still keen to return to parliament, he fought another by-election;

Penistone by-election, 1921
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour William Gillis 8,560 36.2
Liberal William Mather Rutherford Pringle 7,984 33.7
Coalition Liberal Sir James Peace Hinchcliffe 7,123 30.1
Majority 576 2.5
Turnout 23,667 71.7
Labour gain from Liberal Swing

At the 1922 general election he was elected as Member of Parliament for Penistone in Yorkshire, defeating the sitting Labour MP William Gillis, who had narrowly beaten Pringle to win the seat at a by-election in 1921.

General Election 1922: Penistone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Mather Rutherford Pringle 8,924 35.8
Labour William Gillis 8,382 33.7
Unionist Charles Hodgkinson 7,600 30.5
Majority 542 2.1
Turnout 24,906 73.1
Liberal hold Swing

Pringle held the seat in 1923,

General Election 1923: Penistone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Mather Rutherford Pringle 9,164 36.9
Labour Rennie Smith 8,329 33.5
Unionist Charles Hodgkinson 7,369 29.6
Majority 835 3.4
Turnout 24,862 71.8
Liberal hold Swing

By 1924 he had become a member of Asquith's Liberal Shadow Cabinet, and he was a vocal critic of the Labour Government, accusing it of not getting ahead with reforming measures.[7] He was defeated at the 1924 general election by Labour's Rennie Smith;

General Election 1924: Penistone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Rennie Smith 10,997 38.5
Unionist Charles Hodgkinson 9,718 38.5
Liberal William Mather Rutherford Pringle 7,799 27.4
Majority 1,279 4.4
Turnout 28,514 80.6
Labour gain from Liberal Swing

After his election defeat in 1924, Pringle led Liberal candidate criticisms of Lloyd George for failing to make sufficient money from the Lloyd George Fund available to help the Liberal campaign.[8] He helped to form the Liberal and Radical Candidates Association, becoming it's inaugural Chairman and argued that this body should be part of the process in electing the next Chairman of the Liberal Parliamentary party. He hoped that this would help prevent Lloyd George taking that position but Asquith, now out of parliament, did not support his proposal and Lloyd George took over as Chairman.[9] He stood in the 1925 Ayr Burghs by-election, but finished a poor third

Ayr Burghs by-election, 1925[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist Thomas Moore 11,601
Labour P.J. Dollan 9,787
Liberal William Mather Rutherford Pringle 4,656
Unionist hold Swing

After Lloyd George took over as Leader from Asquith, Pringle put his efforts into a newly created body called the Liberal Council, which sought to rally those in the Liberal Party who opposed Lloyd George.[11] He did not stand for Parliament again.

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Mitchell-Thomson
Member of Parliament for Lanarkshire North West
Succeeded by
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
William Gillis
Member of Parliament for Penistone
Succeeded by
Rennie Smith


External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005:
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