UKC

/ Suffrage

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Rock The Lobster - on 06 Feb 2018

“It is obvious to you that the struggle will be an unequal one, but I shall make it - I shall make it as long as I have an ounce of strength left in me, or any life left in me.” Emmeline Pankhurst

Today marks the 100th anniversary of The Representation of the People Act being passed.

Perhaps we should spend a few moments reflecting on those brave women (and men) who campaigned for, were incarcerated and even died for a truly noble cause.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suffragists_and_suffragettes#British

 

2
Jack B on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Rock The Lobster:

Without wishing to be drawn into a long debate, I'd rather show respect for the strength and commitment of someone like Millicent Fawcett and her suffragist movement.  It always seems a shame that Pankhurst and the like eclipse the activities of the more moderate who, IMO, were really responsible for achieving women's suffrage.

 

Timmd on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack B:

I don't suppose one has to choose to honour one over the over. I see it as them all playing a role in different ways. Mllicent Fawcett was a remarkable women. 

Post edited at 14:23
The Lemming - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Rock The Lobster:

 

There hats were too big and detracted from the sashes.

1
marsbar - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack B:

I’m not sure that is true.  It appears to me that the reason that some of the suffragettes became more militant was due to the more moderate peaceful protests being ignored.  Whilst not wanting to break the law herself, and feeling that some of the damage might be counterproductive, Millicent Fawcett did support the Pankhursts, and she gave a speech at the funeral of Emily Davidson who died after being struck by the King’s horse, saying “Courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied.”

She certainly played her part, but she also acknowledged that that the methods she didn’t approve of were actually successful.  

Post edited at 14:58
marsbar - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to The Lemming:

Really dear! Stop mansplaining ladies fashion there’s a good boy

 

1
The New NickB - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack B:

The difference is that somewhat ironically the supposedly more militant members of the movement suspended campaigning in 1914 to support the war effort and the less militant like Fawcett didn’t.

Rock The Lobster - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack B:

I chose the Emmeline Pankhurst quote because it seemed the most appropriate.There were many people who have fought for these undeniable rights and continue to do so, since before Mary Wollstonecraft through to Germaine Greer and beyond, Millicent Fawcett of course, being amongst the foremost.

Respect to them all.

The Lemming - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to marsbar:

> Really dear! Stop mansplaining ladies fashion there’s a good boy


I've learned something new today.  I thought that was about male grooming, down below.

marsbar - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to The New NickB:

Fawcett had a lot of anti war pacifist support.  

Pankhurst was more patriotic perhaps.  

Either way without the war things may have been different. Like in WWII women were needed.  

marsbar - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to The Lemming:

Landscaping perhaps?!

The Lemming - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to marsbar:

> Landscaping perhaps?!


Less landscaping and more of a small-holding. 

 

And to get back on topic, I don't think that its too far of a stretch to say that if women did not go into industry during the second world war, then we as a nation would have lost the war.

Rock The Lobster - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to marsbar:

Women were also vital in WWI. They were the ones doing the work of men whilst their brothers, husbands and sons were being slaughtered in their millions in the mud of Northern France and Belgium. The fact that the British government could no longer morally justify their stance because of this was perhaps, the only good thing to come out of that senseless waste of life.

Chris the Tall - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Rock The Lobster:

> Women were also vital in WWI. They were the ones doing the work of men whilst their brothers, husbands and sons were being slaughtered in their millions in the mud of Northern France and Belgium. The fact that the British government could no longer morally justify their stance because of this was perhaps, the only good thing to come out of that senseless waste of life.

The 1918 act only brought limited suffrage. It was another 10 years before full voting equality. Part of the reason, so I've heard, was down to a fear that women would stop the war if they could outvote the men. 

Rock The Lobster - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Chris the Tall:

That is indeed correct. It must also be remembered that The Representation of Peoples Act also took away restrictions on the suffrage of many men.

Ridge - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Rock The Lobster:

> Women were also vital in WWI. They were the ones doing the work of men whilst their brothers, husbands and sons were being slaughtered in their millions in the mud of Northern France and Belgium. The fact that the British government could no longer morally justify their stance because of this was perhaps, the only good thing to come out of that senseless waste of life.

Pankhurst, with her White Feathers, was quite keen on getting the men, particularly the lower classes, slaughtered in their millions for the Empire.

If we applied the prism of todays attitudes in the way we do to other historical figures we'd have a 'Pankhurst Must Fall' group in every campus.

1
Wingeing Old Git - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to marsbar:

> I’m not sure that is true.  It appears to me that the reason that some of the suffragettes became more militant was due to the more moderate peaceful protests being ignored.  Whilst not wanting to break the law herself, and feeling that some of the damage might be counterproductive, Millicent Fawcett did support the Pankhursts, and she gave a speech at the funeral of Emily Davidson who died after being struck by the King’s horse, saying “Courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied.”

> She certainly played her part, but she also acknowledged that that the methods she didn’t approve of were actually successful.  

This is debatable. There is an argument that militant tactics of Suffragettes actually held back women from getting the vote as they backed up the views of some men that women were too emotional etc to be given the vote. There is also an argument that because of the non-militant tactics of Millicent Fawcett and the Suffragists the Liberal Government had been about to give women the vote but the outbreak of World War One prevented this.

1
wercat on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Rock The Lobster:

There were millions of British troops sent to fight and die who had no right to vote - my 2 great uncles would have gained voting rights had they survived till 1918.  A professional soldier (NCO) and a postman were not considered fit to vote till then on the merits of their age and station.

 

 

wercat on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Ridge:

a relative of mine was remembered in the family for giving out a white feather or two in Durham during WWI

1
wercat on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Chris the Tall:

Something over 5 million men gained the vote and iirc about 8 million women.  So many men died in the war I don't suppose that a subsequent domination of the vote by the majority surviving sex would have seemed acceptable at the time

 

This anniversary should be seen as a victory for people over their elders and betters

Post edited at 17:57
Ridge - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to wercat:

> Something over 5 million men gained the vote and iirc about 8 million women.  So many men died in the war I don't suppose that a subsequent domination of the vote by the majority surviving sex would have seemed acceptable at the time

That was the reason given by a historian on R4 today why the numbers allowed the vote was limited by age and 'social standing'

> This anniversary should be seen as a victory for people over their elders and betters

It was the beginning. The women who wrecked their health in the munitions factories and other 'male' jobs in the war effort weren't property owners over the age of 30.

Rock The Lobster - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack B:

Good news Jack, I see a new statue of Millicent Fawcett has been commissioned for parliament square.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/feb/06/statue-of-suffragist-millicent-fawcett-to-be-unveiled-in-april

marsbar - on 06 Feb 2018
In reply to Wingeing Old Git:

I was under the impression that the liberal government had been thought about to give women the vote in 1910, but did not, and the violence and sexual assaults from the police (brought in especially from the East End to Parliament that day) towards women who had come to hear the announcement and then to protest was a turning point towards civil disobedience and arson.  

The police even tipped a woman out of her wheelchair and took away the valves from her tyres before leaving her in a crowd of angry men.  

Post edited at 22:28
Wingeing Old Git - on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to marsbar:

You are correct. The Conciliation Bill of 1910 which gave some women the vote had been passed by the Commons but the Liberal Government changed its mind and did not send it to the Lords. I think it was because a General Election was called. This and the police reaction led to the Suffragettes escalating their campaign from civil disobedience to violence. I was just putting forward the argument that this militant campaign might have been counter productive and that the peaceful methods of the Suffragists might have had more / as much an effect in obtaining the vote for women. 

I am not a big fan of Emmeline Pankhurst who ran the Suffragettes in a dictatorial and non-democratic manner, expelling members who disagreed with her. 

wercat on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to Ridge:

Yes, it was only the beginning.   I'm surprised how slow the BBC was to pick up on the quite small percentage of men who could vote before 1918 though I don't think it would suit the current editorial narrative to suggest that many men were equally disenfranchised.

 

Heard a couple of young women yesterday on R4 "absolutely outraged" about the fact that women (implied, women only) were so treated till 100 years ago.   Despite having a "historical context" discussion in this programme there was nothing said about working class men, soldiers and sailors who could not vote.

Rock The Lobster - on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to wercat:

The denial of suffrage for those men was indeed unjustifiable and morally indefensible after the sacrifices made by those men in the preceding years. However, just to have some women gaining their suffrage was a massive landmark event.

The New NickB - on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to wercat:

> Yes, it was only the beginning.   I'm surprised how slow the BBC was to pick up on the quite small percentage of men who could vote before 1918 though I don't think it would suit the current editorial narrative to suggest that many men were equally disenfranchised.

It's probably a function of how diffferent people watch / listen / read news, but I thought the BBC covered the fact that 5m men as well as 8m women got the vote in 1918 quite extensively. The website and Newsnight in my case.

wercat on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to The New NickB:

When though?  I started thinking about this about two weeks ago when they started to ramp up trailers and promos particularly on R4 through the day but the first reference to men's suffrage appeared on independent coverage first (Border TV for one) and quite late.   The BBC seem to have picked up a bit late, and the editorial drift on R4 seemed until a day or so ago to think it was only a victory in a gender war for women.  Newsnight definitely has this as a credit to its name for giving more of the picture.   R4 I think has a different editorial emphasis.

 

wercat on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to Rock The Lobster:

Agreed, and it must have given quite a push to the struggle for male suffrage as the authorities must have realised that working class men couldn't be left voteless if they attended to women's rights

marsbar - on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to Wingeing Old Git:

It does seem to have been a bit like a cult or a religion.  

Rock The Lobster - on 07 Feb 2018
In reply to marsbar:

To be fair, the coverage that I have seen has given Millicent Fawcett just as much, if not more credit than the Pankhursts. I am truly glad that her tireless and almost endless struggle has at last been fully recognised and her image will be immortalised in Parliament Square.

winhill - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to Jack B:

>   It always seems a shame that Pankhurst and the like eclipse the activities of the more moderate who, IMO, were really responsible for achieving women's suffrage.

There's very little evidence that one side did any better than the other, so people tend to look back from where we are now and pick the values they think each one espouses but in reality it was split very much on class lines and it seems petty to claim the the working women had lesser manners than the toffs.

It was also an age of disobedience and militancy - non-conformist Christians were going to prison to protest the CofE getting control of schools, it's difficult to look back in that context.

One way of settling the dispute would be to say that neither side were successful because of WW1. Asquith went and that removed a block on extending the franchise, although he wasn't opposed in principal, more pragmatic that he didn't think it lead to better governance.

The spirit of the RotP Act 1918 was to give votes to soldiers and the suffrage protests were stopped by that time meaning that there a disconnect between the suffrage movement and the changes that the war brought.

There's an interesting if non-conclusive attempt at the bbc to make sense of it, but it seems pretty stupid for a historian to claim that "It's not possible to imagine women winning the vote without the suffragettes," because the it's obvious that women would have got the vote eventually , it was just a question of when.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-42879161

ian caton on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to Rock The Lobster:

Democracy dates from '28. Hold the champagne, we haven't made a 100 years yet. It's still an experiment, anything could happen.

Rock The Lobster - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to ian caton:

Yes, I see your point. But you could take your pick from:

1968? The voting age was lowered to 18.

1215? The signing of the Magna Carta.

508 BC? The first Athenian democracy.

Or perhaps it's still yet to happen?

Dauphin on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to Rock The Lobster:

Surely it's a social/ political process not at an  end state. There is always room for more representation and various groups will always be looking to reduce or curtail democracy as it doesn't suit their objectives. 

 

D

1
Rock The Lobster - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to Dauphin:

Yes Dauphin, you are correct. I was just pointing out to Ian that whilst 1928 was indeed when equality of suffrage was achieved, there were many dates from history that were important to democracy. 1918 was a huge landmark event and worthy of our celebration, as it will be when 2028 arrives and we can celebrate the centenary of the suffragettes and suffragists primary goal being finally achieved.

marsbar - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to Rock The Lobster:

Today I learned that consciencous objectors weren’t allowed to vote for a few years after WW1

Rock The Lobster - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to marsbar:

Wow, really?

In many ways the true conscientious objectors were just as brave as those that went. If I had have been alive (with my values today) I would hope I would have been one them in WWI. As for WWII, I would hope that I would have been at the front of the cue at the recruitment office.

Nevis-the-cat - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to wercat:

Given the number of Durham miners, who were in reserved occupations, that must have been a risky undertaking. 

 

A great uncle of mine was white feathered in WWII. The reason he was in civvies was he'd been given 2 days leave, what with having just been evacuated from Dunkirk. 

Post edited at 16:22
marsbar - on 08 Feb 2018
In reply to Rock The Lobster:

It seems from further digging it was only those who hadn’t convinced a tribunal of their reasons, and it wasn’t always enforced.  

https://www.geni.com/projects/First-World-War-British-Conscientious-Objectors/27807


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