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The way we were: Running for election

Extracts from memoirs and diaries

Nancy Astor, Britain’s first female MP, campaigning in 1919. © Ken Welsh / Bridgeman Images

William Wilberforce, the anti-slavery campaigner, spent £8,000 in 1780 on bribing voters to elect him as an MP. He writes in his memoirs: 

“By long established custom, the single vote of a resident elector was rewarded with a donation of two guineas, four were paid for a plumper [the constituency returned two MPs and therefore voters had…

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