Cunard – a triumph of steam-age privatisation

Plus: Expat voters; how same-sex marriage has worked in Holland; and parliament’s least populous constituencies

30 May 2015

9:00 AM

30 May 2015

9:00 AM

Steam privatisation

Cunard celebrated its 175th birthday by sailing three liners down the Mersey. The formation of the Cunard Line was an early triumph of privatisation.
— The Post Office had been operating a monthly service to New York with sailing brigs since 1756. In 1836 a parliamentary committee decided that a steamship service should replace it, and that it would be more efficient for the Admiralty to put it out to tender to private operators.
— Samuel Cunard defeated the Great Western Steamship Company and the St George Steam Packet Company by offering a fortnightly service from Liverpool for an annual subsidy of £55,000. The service, which at first only reached Halifax, began in May 1840.

The expat vote

British citizens who have been living abroad for more than ten years were told they can’t vote in the EU referendum, but they may in the next general election. How did British expats intend to vote last time?

Conservative 45%
Ukip 19%
Labour 12%
SNP 10%
Green 6%
Cymru 6%
Lib Dem 2%


Married life

Ireland voted to legalise gay marriage. What can it expect over the next few years, judging by the experience of Holland, which took the same step in 2000?
— Since 2001 there have been 14,800 same-sex marriages in the Netherlands.
7,500 were between women, and 7,300 between men.
1,080 same-sex marriages have ended in divorce, 730 of them between women.
27% of the Netherlands’ estimated 55,000 gay couples are married, against about 80% of heterosexual couples.

Small seats

Constituencies are to be equalised in size. Who holds the smallest?
— Nah-Eileanan an Nar (21,837 constituents): Scottish National Party
— Orkney and Shetland (33,755): Liberal Democrats
— Arfon (40,707): Plaid Cymru
— Dwyfor Meirionnydd (44,796): Plaid
— Aberconwy (44,962): Conservatives
— Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (47,572): SNP
— Montgomeryshire (48,563): Tories
— Ynys Mon (49,524): Labour

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments