Edwardian elections were a passionate affair. Today's politicians can only dream of matching the attentive throng gathered outside Woolwich's famous arsenal in this 1910 hustings, in which sitting MP Will Crooks (Labour) and his opponent Major William Augustus Adams (Conservative) face off. Curiously, the newsreel leaves both behind to catch Home Secretary Winston Churchill on a more sedate visit.
Politics in 1910 was balanced on a knife edge, much as it is today. Two elections that year - in January and December - failed to do much to break the deadlock between Conservative and Liberal. The constituency of Woolwich in South East London neatly expressed the volatile mood, with Crooks, who had held the seat since 1903, ousted by Adams in January, only to win it back in December. The fact that this newsreel - believed to be Pathé - puts Crooks first and gives him more screen time suggests that it was shot when Adams was still the sitting MP - that is, in January.
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