Election to Parliament
Photograph of Joe [Joseph] Cowen, MP
Parliamentary Archives, PHO/11/2/2
By the end of the 1860s, Joseph Cowen had built a powerful public presence. In 1873 he was elected Liberal MP for Newcastle-upon-Tyne with a majority of over 1,000 votes. Cowen's election was partially due to his family's wealth and influence in Newcastle, but also as importantly, through years of campaigning and public speaking, he had gained a loyal and committed following of working class people and organisations. Cowen represented a new type of politician - radical and Liberal - connected to the issues and concerns of his constituents.
How was Cowen perceived in Parliament?
In March 1876, Cowen delivered his first major speech on the Royal Tithes Bill. His powerful oratory and anti-imperialist stance impressed the House of Commons, and copies of his speech circulated at a number of meetings. Cowen stood out from other Liberal MPs in Parliament. He was known for his direct, clear and accessible language, and his clothing choices, both of which indicated a clear connection to his constituents.