Today is the centenary of The Representation of the People Act, better known for its role in giving women the vote. In the run-up it has been used as yet another opportunity to remind us of women’s centuries of oppression, of the Suffragettes’ violent yet noble struggle and of their final achievement in getting the vote.

This is both a travesty of what actually happened and an incomplete picture. For what did happen amounted to so much more.

Disraeli, when introducing the Second Reform Act of 1867, had said: ‘We do not live – and I trust it will never be the fate of this country to live – under a democracy. The propositions which I am going to make tonight certainly have no tendency in that direction.’

I mention this because it shows how far we came in such a short time.

The Representation of the People Act was the culmination of centuries of struggle and sacrifice particularly by men, but also women, aimed at weakening oppressive inequalities and the role of property in determining a person’s worth. Only twenty years earlier universal suffrage had been unthinkable in a country where democracy was a dirty word.

The Act was achieved not by the suffragettes’ terrorist tactics, but by fighting and sacrifice of men in the First World War, when thousands of men from their many different backgrounds came together to fight the common enemy. This finally achieved what the Chartists, the Levellers and the peasants before them had struggled for in terms of eroding barriers of class.

George Cave, the Home Secretary at the time, introduced the Bill thus: ‘War by all classes of our countrymen has brought us nearer together, has opened men’s eyes, and removed misunderstandings on all sides. It has made it, I think, impossible that ever again . . . there should be a revival of the old class feeling which was responsible for so much, and, among other things, for the exclusion for a period, of so many of our population from the class of electors. I think I need say no more to justify this extension of the franchise.’

What this Act achieved in terms of gender equality simply would not have been possible without first eroding this entrenchment of class.

Where, then, does this leave the role of women?

The issue of female suffrage had long been on the political agenda and there was general acceptance that women ought to have the vote. It was brought up by Jeremy Bentham in 1817 when only 4 per cent of men had the vote. It was made an issue in 1867 by John Stuart Mill. And when, in 1884, 56 per cent of men were enfranchised there were several attempts to give women suffrage along the same lines.

In fact Mrs Pankhurst observed that in 1884, ‘We had actually a majority in favour of suffrage in the House of Commons’. Of a Bill introduced by Lord Haldane in 1890 she remarked, ‘It was a truly startling Bill, royally inclusive in its terms. It not only enfranchised all women, married or unmarried, of the householding classes, but made them eligible to all offices under the crown’.

What seemed far less attainable during this period was votes for working-class men.

In response to the formation of the People’s Suffragist Federation Millicent Fawcett had said: ‘I do not believe there is much genuine demand for universal suffrage. I certainly have not met with it when I have been about the country speaking . . . In any case our position is clear. We have nothing to do, and can have nothing to do, with a general alternation of the franchise as it affects men . . . Any change in the direction of adult manhood suffrage would make our task infinitely more difficult.’

Fortunately later Mrs Fawcett was to change her mind.

Not so Mrs Pankhurst. She, as Mrs Fawcett had been, was resistant to acquiring the vote for working class men, realising that this would be much tougher than winning the vote for ‘respectable’ women. Furthermore, underlying her resistance appears to have been her contempt for working-class men. According to Sean Lang in his book on Parliamentary reform: ‘The Pankhursts became stridently anti-male, ruthlessly dropping even the most loyal of their male supporters from the WSPU [Women’s Social and Political Union], and claiming, as Christabel did in her 1913 book The Great Scourge, that men were “little more than carriers of venereal disease”.’

Their contempt was not restricted to men. When Sylvia Pankhurst set up her East London Federation of suffragettes, which engaged in valuable social activity as well as more questionable militancy, she was ejected from the WSPU and all funding was withdrawn. Christabel Pankhurst, sister of Sylvia, reportedly told her that a working women’s movement was of no value, that working women were the weakest portion of their sex, that their lives were too hard and their education too meagre to equip them for the contest. ‘Surely it is a mistake to use the weakest for the struggle! We want picked women, the very strongest and most intelligent,’ she proclaimed.

Just to make sure that there was no ambiguity around the place of working class women, in 1907 the WSPU changed its stated aim from ‘Votes for women in the same terms as it may be granted to men’ to ‘tax-paying women are entitled to the parliamentary vote’.

Yet it was precisely the absence of working-class men from the franchise which made it so impossible to give women the vote. So, for example, despite overwhelming parliamentary support, no fewer than three conciliation bills between 1910 and 1912 fell at the last hurdle thanks to ruses which Prime Minister Herbert Asquith cooked up.

This was inevitable and the result of what Rick Bradford has termed The Big Snag. Limiting suffrage to respectable women would have been electoral suicide for both the Liberal and the Labour parties. In the words of Lloyd George, a limited female suffrage ‘spells disaster to Liberalism; and unless you take it in hand, and take it all at once, this catastrophe is inevitable’.

It is no wonder that while suffrage for women received overwhelming support in Parliament, the government found sneaky ways to avoid giving women the vote. This was the point at which, to borrow from Bradford, Emmeline Pankhurst ‘threw her dolly out of the pram’.

However fortunately the Suffragettes were merely a splinter group. While they enacted their violence, the Suffragists – the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) – with 500 branches throughout the country and 100,000 members (ten times the size of the WSPU) were the main event.

NUWSS also contained many shrewd operators, in particular Millicent Fawcett and Catherine Marshall with their invincible Election Fighting Fund.

Mrs Fawcett and the Suffragists understood why the Liberals were not giving women the vote and developed a cunning strategy to do something about it.

The Labour party had been sceptical about giving ‘respectable’ women the vote. But by coming round to Labour’s universalist position, and by making their extensive funds and resources available to the Labour party, the Suffragists won their co-operation. In 1913 the Labour party made female suffrage party policy.

The Suffragists provided significant support to the underfunded Labour party, giving them money to run more candidates, placing ground forces at their disposal to do the arduous and costly work of maintaining and adding to the electoral register (after all, working-class women didn’t have that sort of time), helping to mobilise working-class women and strengthening Labour’s hand in its negotiations with the Liberal party as to which seats it would contest in the next general election.

As one former MP wrote in a 1914 edition of The Englishwoman ‘[the suffragists] saying little that appears in the press, are in every direction reinforcing Labour and influencing the balancing vote on which depends the fate of governments’.

The coup came at the Speaker’s Conference in 1917. The Labour leader Arthur Henderson, who had been a key player in the Election Fighting Fund, and a persistent lobbyist for female suffrage, threatened to resign from the cabinet if women’s suffrage was not included in the electoral reform Bill being discussed.

And what of the Suffragettes? The best Mrs Pankhurst could come up with when trying to explain what their terrorism had achieved was ‘our campaign made women’s suffrage a matter of news – it had never been that before. Now the newspapers were full of us’.

This was not surprising. Their ‘Reign of Terror’ included hundreds of bombs left on trains, in theatres, post offices, churches and even the Bank of England, while arson attacks on timber yards, railway stations and private houses inflicted untold amounts of damage. It was only sheer luck that nobody was killed.

That the rather limited extent of their influence is so seldom acknowledged is largely due to a small group of former suffragettes who set about compiling a highly censored collection of their documents and memorabilia thus ensuring a ‘highly sanitised version of their own history’.

In fact their actions were disastrous for the cause of women’s suffrage and provided ammunition to their opponents, winning disapproval among supporters of the cause. Lloyd George said: ‘The action of the militants is ruinous. The feeling amongst the sympathisers of the cause in the House is one of panic. I am frankly not very hopeful of success if these tactics are persisted in.’

Fortunately Fawcett and Marshall were working in the wings to sort things out.

There is so much we can learn if we move our focus from the Suffragettes to the behind-the-scenes work of the Suffragists.

Firstly it is not violence and attention-grabbing that achieves constructive change, but persistence, patience and resolute hard work. Through this the suffragists were not only crucial in achieving votes for women but also had a central hand in building up the strength of the Labour party.

While the Pankhursts could not see beyond sex discrimination, the NUWSS recognised the political roots of the problem and developed a strategy accordingly.

By restricting their focus to gender, the Pankhursts and their party perpetuated class barriers just as feminists do today when they undermine the family and ignore the issue of male work. And it is because of this, the continuation of this Suffragette exclusion and contempt for men, that equality still eludes us. It was only when the Suffragists supported men that true liberation was achieved.

That is what we need again now.

I am indebted for this post to Rick Bradford, Centuries of Oppression: The Road to 1918 and Dawn Langan Teele, Ordinary Democratisation: The Electoral Strategy That Won British Women the Vote.

Dawn Langan Teele’s book Political Origins of the Female Franchise is forthcoming.

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Belinda Brown
Belinda Brown is author of 'The Private Revolution' and a number of well-cited academic papers. More recently, she has started writing and blogging for The Daily Mail and The Conservative Woman. She has a particular interest in men's issues and the damage caused by feminism.

86 COMMENTS

  1. Restricting the franchise to property owners and to those who pay income tax would be a step in the right direction!

  2. Great stuff. Let’s restrict the franchise to those who have worked in the armaments industry or served in HM forces.

  3. Hmm……….yeah so they gave us a vote – so what, I beg, does it make a blind bit of difference which donkey you stick your vote on – of whatever hue; red, blue or yellow /green pus rosette?

    In the biggest vote a clear majority wanted OUT.

    As we see clearly, the UK establishment with their allies in Berlin seek to stymie, smother and finally strangle to death – any idea of Britain leaving the bosom of authoritarian control proxy parliament/government in la maison des putes – Berlaymont de palais.

    Women getting the vote is just a media confection and playing to the gallery – unless you are charlie gracie and crones – no one is in the slightest bit interested.

    and yes, I am quite aware of (mis) spelling names.

    • Absolutely, they should be questioning today why a third of women are so disillusioned that they didn’t vote in the last election.

      • Perhaps, you haven’t noticed?

        Elective dictatorship, a one party state in effect. With all major decisions taken outside of Westminster, and thus, no matter who you put a cross next to – the same ruinous Socialist dogmas are applied.
        Next, financial laxity layered upon layer of financial idiocy and debt piled up running at – £3.5 trillion and some experts think it beyond £7 trillions – or haven’t you heard about that either – WTF?
        An open borders policy with welfare free at the point of access – and that’s economic suicide, add in the green agenda – they want electric cars FFS but there won’t be an electricity to ‘fill’ ’em and a lunatic idea (gordon macriun) of tax credits. The nation is taxed (secondary and primary) up to it’s eyeballs and still the useless civil servants in the BoE do the bidding of the ECB – print money and extra borrowing to pay for the new arrivals.

        The point, the point is that, the weasels in Parliament, compo and mrs mayham and shadow cabinet v incumbents, all they do is shout and virtue signal about historical stuff universal suffrage today something else tomorrow, which actually they despise………….universal sufferage and haughtily, sneeringly at that, but we also know damn well what they all really think and Brendan O’Neill hits the nail squarely right to the heart of it. To play their political charades and verbose, vacant flummery: while the country is going down the tubes.

        Do some reading, it may be of personal benefit to you.

    • Our votes are largely wasted under the FPTP voting system . We are not fully enfranchised until we get a proper Proportional Voting system We are not there yet !

  4. Great article. It is very worrying how history is cherry picked to suit an establishment narrative.
    Its ironic that this celebration of democracy is taking place while the establishment are striving to overturn the single greatest vote in the countries history.

  5. So, 100 years since women got the vote and what are the leftists celebrating? Quota systems and the denigration of masculinity. I imagine that women who really had to fight to get where they are today must cringe at modern women knowing that many of them achieved high status based on their sex not their talent.
    I noticed that the Beeb morning show had 2 (yes 2) female presenters on the couch again with another woman doing the sport and another doing business. It doesn’t show strength and fortitude, it’s typical grandstanding by an organisation clear to flaunt the idea that they are better than others. It won’t endear anyone to their cause only highlight the fact that the modern woman needs a leg-up to get where they are. If that doesn’t offend women, I’m not sure what will.

    • BBC Winter Olympics coverage will be fronted by 3 women and 1 man, if the preview photo I saw the other day is to be believed. That’s in addition to the strict 50%+ quota for females on men’s sports programmes. But seemingly doesn’t apply to the women’s events, which have an all-female cast…

  6. “It was only when the Suffragists supported men that true liberation was achieved.”

    Hah! That’ll be the day…

  7. In C S Lewis That Hideous Strength the head of security at the diabolic quango NICE (ironic that a real quango actually took the name,so much for literacy) is one Fairy Hardcastle.Lewis gives her CV as militant suffragette then member of Moselys British Union Of Fascists in the 1930s.Lewis knew whereof he spoke as that actually describes the trajectory of various militant suffragettes including some of the Pankhursts..Could it be that some women actually enjoy the thrill of violence and join political movements that offer them the opportunity for such like young muslim women going out to join IS ?.

    • Had Hitler taken effective control over Britain, either by direct invasion or by installing a puppet government here as part of an unfavourable peace treaty (Edward VIII on the throne, Oswald Mosley in Downing Street, perhaps) I wonder how the Suffragettes would have fared? I suspect that they, along with the phenomenally ghastly Marie Stopes and other eugenics enthusiasts, would have been of great use to the new regime and would have been given senior posts in government and in the police and quasi-police organisations. Anti working-class, violent and inclined anyway to Fascism the Suffragettes would have surely been a great asset to a Nazi government or one strongly sympathetic to Nazism.

        • Yes, but Hitler took on board the idea of eugenics at an early stage in his career, and Stopes and her ilk were very keen on the ‘eugenic breeding’ of the population (her phrase) including forced sterilisation of the ‘unfit’.

          Eugenics is one important difference between the policy of the Nazis on the one hand and that of other forms of dictatorship on the other. It is important to realise that Hitler picked up on ideas that were popular in intellectual circles in Europe and in the USA and incorporated them into his philosophy. Even the idea of killing those who were deemed ‘unfit’ (for example vagrants), was advocated by some eugenicists, though of course not on the scale that the Nazis put into practice.

          Stopes admired Hitler and wrote a fan letter to him, enclosing a book of poetry (as a poet I think she was perhaps not as gifted as William McGonagall). Here is a line from one of her gems:
          “Catholics, Prussians, the Jews and the Russians, all are a curse, or something worse.”

          Marie Stopes disinherited her son because he married a girl who needed glasses. This was apparently because Stopes didn’t want her bloodline contaminated by a genetic defect. I think that alone makes her ‘phenomenally ghastly’ even without considering her other views and actions.

          • Stopes was a basket case for 90% of the time, but it’d be a mistake to believe that anyone who favours contraception or abortion is a putative National Socialist.

          • It would be a mistake to think that *anyone* who favours contraception or abortion is a putative Nazi but it is also a mistake to regard Stopes as a benevolent figure. Motivation is the key.

            It should be noted that for certain people, Stopes included, contraception directed at certain groups is a means of reducing the population of ‘inferior’ classes or races. In a documentary I once saw about Eugene Terre’ Blanche, the leader of the white supremacist South African AWB, “The Leader, His Driver and the Driver’s Wife”, the ‘Driver’s Wife’ Anita Meyer was a nurse principally concerned with issuing contraceptives to and sterilising black women. I think it is safe to say that Anita Meyer would not have been a Guardian reader. I suspect though that she and Marie Stopes would have been on the same wavelength.

  8. Thank you Belinda both clear and concise. A real achievement on an issue that was so long in the discussion. I am so struck with the parallels today. Certainly since the millennium there has been scant interest in “working class” women (it seems to have faded the protests, marches and so on for “widows” “single parents” etc. etc. or even concern for care workers or shop workers or nursery staff). Instead we are treated to concern to get more women on “Boards”, Professions and Media. The BBC Equal Pay row nicely encapsulated this as tears were shed, not at the plight of single mothers abandoned by their partners or women in the “gig” economy struggling to earn and balance shifts, But some of the best paid folk in the nation wanting, well, more. No tears shed about the estimated “20,000” mainly young women victimised by “muslim” gangs but a hoo ha about a posh charity dinner, where nothing more than flirting appears to have happened. Just read a piece by Paul Johnson of the IFS. So concerned that the “gender gap” amongst high paid professionals has remained the same for years, but that for lower paid women has closed. Ignoring completely the obvious, that its precisely because the partners are very highly paid that such women can actually afford to have time off and take less remunerative family friendly jobs! As TCW frequently observes modern feminism delights in the odd bit of virtue signalling but is mainly focussed on “women of quality”. And is oblivious to the challenges facing ordinary women and simply hates their partners; “white van man”. The Fawcettes elitism is a match for the Pankhursts.

    • By that you mean the elitisism of the Fawcett society. I think Millicent would be really upset to see how her name has been misused.

  9. Thank you, Belinda
    I see it as nothing short of a disgrace that the enfranchisement of working class people (men and women) is ignored by the BBC, schools and all other cultural institutions. How many children learn the real meaning of suffrage? Millions of young men were conscripted to the horror of the trenches, and many died never having seen a voting card. The centenary of the 1918 Act should certainly honour the women who fought for their rightful vote, but to airbrush out male suffrage – particularly in the circumstances of their deeply traumatic experience, is outrageous. Middle-class feminism has taken over the history books.

  10. Should we be celebrating the bomb attacks by suffragettes too? Right up Corbyn’s street those, I would have thought.

    In the years leading up to the First World War, the UK was subjected to a campaign of bombing and arson by members of the Women’s Social and Political Union, better known as the suffragettes. The targets for their attacks ranged from St Paul’s Cathedral and the Bank of England in London to theatres and churches in Ireland. The violence, which included several attempted assassinations, culminated in June 1914 with an explosion in Westminster Abbey.

    The ugly face of feminism is nothing new.

    • I’ve mentioned this before so forgive me for being repetitive – but some leading lights in the Suffragette movement went on to become prominent fascists:

      Mary Raleigh Richardson – leader (Fueherin?) of the women’s section of the British Union of Fascists;
      Mary Sophia Allen – admirer of Hitler;
      Norah Elam – also prominent in the women’s section of the BUF.

      Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Guardian and MSM lefties!

    • I know of one attempted assasination – Asquith when he was visiting Ireland a Suffragette went over there and chucked a hatchett at him which hit the other man in his carriage – I really want to collect data on this – if you know of other attempted assasinations or what I could search on to find them that would be great.

  11. Today is not the centenary of votes for women. Before 1832, county and many borough franchises were based solely on property ownership. Extremely few women met those property qualifications, but very few men did, either. The restriction of the vote to “male persons” began only with the Great Reform Act for parliamentary elections, and for local elections with the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, which disenfranchised far more women, since a widow or a spinster had often had the vote in municipal elections if she had owned or rented a property that made her liable for the payment of poor rates. Even after that, though, women regularly continued to vote for, and to hold, various local offices outside the statutory framework of municipal activity. But has any work ever been done on the female franchise before then? If so, then where is it, please? If not, then it is very high time that it was.

    Hull’s Headscarf Heroes (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09r8jvr ) are forgotten after a mere 50 years, while the Suffragettes are remembered for getting back the vote for themselves after an 86-year hiatus, 100 years ago. They did not win the vote for those women who had never had it, and who had to wait another 10 years for it. The men of the working class were indeed enfranchised for the first time in 1918, but a concentration on the re-enfranchisement of wealthy women conveniently avoids having to mention them. To redress that imbalance, as well as for its own sake, legislation annulling the Suffragettes’ convictions must also annul all convictions and other adverse court decisions arising out of Clay Cross, Shrewsbury, Wapping, and the three Miners’ Strikes since 1970. Make sure that there is at least one member of the next Parliament who will insist on that: https://www.gofundme.com/david-lindsay-for-parliament.

    Now, where are the 16 and 17-year-olds marching, going on hunger strike, chaining themselves to railings, and throwing themselves under horses, to demand the right to vote? What do you mean, “There aren’t any”?

  12. Good homework; this article, despite its brevity, contains far more factual information than we are likely to see in a whole year of BBC documentaries and the entire history curriculum of our education system on the subject, put together.

    If you read British history with an unjaundiced eye, the most obvious barrier between people that shows itself again and again is not sex, but class. The fight for the right to vote was essentially a class struggle. It also had to begin with the right to establish something worth voting for in the first place; because Parliament as a powerful force able to challenge the monarchy (male and female) did not drop into our ancestors’ laps out of a clear blue sky. It had to be fought for over centuries; and almost the entire story of that fight, and the torture and deaths that surrounded it, was the story of male effort and sacrifice. Women only came to the party with their demands once the real and bloody hard work had already been done, and Parliament had been established as the true voice against the aristocratic elite.

    • No paul. It’s property, in particular land ownership. It was generally inherited until the nineteenth century and the industrial revolution.
      “class” is a meaningless word – especially today – in the same category as the word “elite”.
      For example many Brexiters like to point fingers at “elites” yet they themselves in many cases belong to what might be termed “elites”. Jacob Rees-Mogg’s expensive Eton education is not open to all persons. He is perhaps a member of a privileged elite?
      “Elites” presumably are defined as those who have access to desirable things that are not open to all. Well, either you go with that and get envious and shake your fist at those apparently privileged people and feel sorry for yourself or you (wo)man up and get on with your life. Even those people you envy are going to get sick and die one day.
      Some people have more than others. So what?

  13. When the vote was extended to all men over 21 and women over 30 it was the first time that the right to vote had been granted simply on the basis that you existed. Before that the right to vote had to be earned in the sense that you had to own property . Once you grant the vote simply because a person lives in this country you open the door to an ever greater extension of voting rights. If a 21 year old can vote then why not an 18 year old and if an 18 year old then why not a 16 year old and so on ad infinitum .Mrs Pankhurst only wanted property owners and their wives to vote. As we see politicians calling for a lowering of the voting age I wonder if maybe she had a point.

  14. Damnation! I didn’t realise that one of the links in your excellent article was for The Guardian. I have long since sworn off that particular pit of hypocriticy and lies. I shall not allow them to claim my clicks as circulation for their advertisers.

    I do note, however, that their article does not allow comments, so no belief in democracy nor to extending the opportunity for anyone to vote there.

    What a surprise!

    .

    • “Whilst you’re here… More people are reading The Guardian than ever before, but fewer people are paying for it”

      More people than ever before are linking to Guardian articles and saying “look at what the stupid b*****ds have done now.

      The internet is laughing at these throwbacks, but they are still hawking their 1970s agenda.

  15. Were I alive in 1914, I would not have had the vote as, despite being male, I’m the wrong socio-economic profile, being working class. And I’m alive now in 2018 and I don’t want the vote. I’ve even petitioned my local council to take my name off the electoral register, but to no avail. Why anyone should want to bother eludes me.

  16. Great article. The Representation of the People Act was a major step towards universal suffrage, but has been purloined by feminists to twist it’s real significance. All the TV pundits follow the narrative that the Pankhursts were angels seeking universal suffrage – they were not – Mrs Pankhurst deliberately excluded working class women from the movement, and were quite happy to see both men and women without property to continue to be excluded from voting rights. They were well-connected upper-middle class women who simply wanted parity with men of similar wealth, they couldn’t give a stuff that working class men & women had no vote. The Pankhursts (with the exception of Sylvia) fought hard against trade unionism, and hypocritically “white-feathered” young men into fighting and dying in WW1, while disagreeing with the right of those same men to vote.
    http://redpilluk.co.uk/Long%20script%20for%20voice-only%20video%20on%20universal%20suffrage%20in%20the%20UK.pdf

    • True, and they firebombed London many times during WWI as well

      I would say “Today they would have been shot, and rightly so”, but as they weren’t men and therefore not a fashionably acceptable target for hatred, I would probably be arrested for “hate crime”.

      History may be written by the winners, but there is a difference between “purveyor of temporarily fashionable opinion” and “winner”.

    • So glad you mention about the white feathers – I wanted to put that in but had gone so much over my word limit. They were sending men who they did not believe should have the vote, to war. That is literally what they were doing. It is disgusting. And it is even worse that they are regarded as National heroes. And very worst of all regarded as heroines by the Fawcett society itself. Mrs Fawcett campaigned under the banner “Law abiding Suffragists’ to make sure that they were identified as separate. Pankhurst et al was an embarrassment for them.

      • The suffragists were less extreme, and certainly were not terrorist bombers and arsonists like the suffragettes, but equally, they paid little regard to men’s right to vote. Millicent Fawcett said at the time: “I do not believe there is much genuine
        demand for universal suffrage. I certainly have not met with it when I
        have been about the country speaking….In any case our position is clear.
        We have nothing to do, and can have nothing to do, with a general alteration
        of the franchise as it affects men….Any change in the direction of
        adult manhood suffrage would make our task infinitely more difficult of
        attainment”

  17. I will probably get shot down for saying this but I think all these professional women shouting about the progress that women have made is denying one important factor. Most women actually want a family, a husband and a safe home. Yes they want work. But they want the choice of raising their own children, not putting them out to childminders whom they don’t know and whose values they may disagree with.

    The breakdown in families is now one of the saddest and most shameful result of successive government policies in our history. Yet again mothers are left out of the celebrations. Yet again it is the academic, professional women (many who do not have children) who are celebrating this 100 years.

    Well I would like to celebrate more than that. I would like to celebrate the fact that married women were allowed to vote for the first time in history. Mothers could contribute to the shaping of the future for their children. Men who did not own property were also included in the franchise, which meant for the first time in history it was poor people who suffered the most from wealthy, academic voters decisions, who at last had their voice heard via the ballot box. Many of those women worked part time and brought their own children up. They instilled pride, aspiration, values and a work ethic. These women were the unsung heroes of generations of young people who went on to fight for our country, create businesses, create jobs and drive our country forward.

    These women were the ‘battle axes’ who kept law and order in their communities, who looked after the elderly, who helped create a cohesive environment. These women’s daughters and granddaughters are today’s academics, businesswomen, politicians and social commentators. But so also are all the women who just want a choice of whether to stay at home to create the cohesion their forebears so capably achieved. These women do not want expensive childcare, leaving their children to strangers. They want a little support either through married women’s taxes or indeed a mothers tax so they can choose what is best for them and their children.

    I of course acknowledge that women can fly high. But there are very few women in Parliament today who have achieved as much as the voting franchise, or the women who sustained society, or indeed the men who felt pride and honour in being able to look after their families and contributing to a better place to bring up their children. Where did it all go wrong.

    After all a child is for life. A job is transient and changes as we change. We can retrain, educate ourselves at any juncture in our lives. We can gain experience and knowledge at will. But we cannot recapture the early years of our children. The most important years for creating a stable adult.

    • Honestly, thank you for expressing your thoughts this way. This is a beautiful and important comment. I read hundreds of them on issues and articles like this one and so rarely do I read something simple and without hatred or explicit bitterness, even through your words remind about the existent problems. I see everyday too many hateful and impatient people who may see the problems and have right ideas but are somehow fighting this unbased modern anger and downfall of virtue and normal values with the same – only anger which is preventing them to see so many people around them, men and women, who wish for the same return to normalcy and lives concerned with their families or jobs and not this yelling circus, this fight of men and women, whoever damn needed to do that on this earth. I am a young woman and I am desperate to see so many men who, somehow damaged by all this bullshit, cannot anymore think of women like those mothers you talked about, when the concept of woman and mother used to be respectful and basically the most honorable thing to be, and no normal person ever thought about disrespecting a woman without reason. It’s was all there naturally when no one used to DEMAND respect, instead of earning it. Anyway, if tradition will anyhow recover, that won’t be through fight of who is more genuinely oppressed or disrespect or words of insult, but through words like yours. I think it’s the most efficient way to make people rethink the situation today and is this what they’re protesting on the streets really what they wish for. I still believe kind and calm words are more likely to be listened to. Best of luck.

      • Thank you so much for your support and reply. I am 66yrs old. I have in my years raised my children, owned a print and design business, looked after a disabled mother in law and cared for my own mother in her last few years. I left school at 16yrs old after growing to tall to carry on my dancing dreams.

        I have spent many years quietly watching women losing heart at ever finding a partner and producing a family. I have quietly watched men despair that they cannnot please their womenfolk. It has broken my heart when I see so many women told they can climb the greasy pole of success and that is the only way to achieve respect. Yet the majority of women deep inside do not want to reach the pinnacle of a career. They want to bring up their children and teach the next generation kindness, thoughtfulness and stability.

        Women attaining the vote opened up the choices of when they worked and when they had their families. Of being able to glean an education too. It opened up doors for people like Barbara Castle who created the Open University, enabling everyone to gain further education as and when it suited them. It opened up the door to Maggie Thatcher, who by her strength of character stopped the unions being a closed shop to women and allowed poorer people to buy their council homes, giving them security in old age.

        It seems to me that modern feminists have rather lost the real opportunities that women and men gained. They have abused much of what our ancestors fought for and they have demeaned motherhood in the quest to have it all regardless of the cost to men and family.

        Have a really great week. :):):):

  18. Yes it was men who won votes for women.

    And it was FW de Klerk – a white Afrikaaner – who freed Mandela and received the Nobel prize with him.

    People forget…..

  19. I didn’t notice anything different yesterday than any other day of the week because we are reminded daily that some women couldn’t vote 100 years ago , in fact it’s the foundation for their continuous acts of revenge against men .

  20. It matters not if the information is dropped down the memory hole by the msm and the establishment. Their narrative will prevail because they control the flow of information and the majority no longer care much anyway.

  21. if only more women will stand up for families, children and men
    their silence across generations created a monstruosity, and that monstruosity will eventually hurt girls and women too

  22. To be fair, although I fully agree that enthusiasm about the suffragettes is naive and overblown through a narrative that has lost touch with reality, I also do not think it is fair to judge their actions with today’s eyes. Classism of the kind that makes the English aristocracy seem progressive was a given back then, and the rage of the lower classes a serious security concern. Think 1848. Less prominent, but still despicable from our perspective was the racism that plagued the US suffragist movement. What we also forget is that only the wealthy paid tax back then, and suffrage was seen as closely tied to economic power (and later military service). This was the framework in which they acted, and in that framework Pankhurst was hardly a radical.

    I think the suffragist narrative stems from our deep-seated need to link social change to heroic, larger-than-life characters. But most often, this view distorts what actually happens. Arguably, women would have received the votes with or without their interventions for the simple reason that preventing half the population from voting was not justifiable in the long run. In the same vein, women’s liberation would have happened anyway for the simple reason that working full time had become much more comfortable (air-conditioned offices rather than coal mines), and child care had become increasingly accessible. Gay marriage is inevitable as people increasingly get to know gays and lesbians and see no reason why they should not have that right. And, having seen South Africa in the 80’s, few would have disagreed that apartheid was ridiculous and cruel – the only thing holding back democratic reform was a palpable fear of the violence and instability that could ensue.

    But I am an amateur, not a historian. So I would love to hear what others think.

    • Gay marriage is inevitable

      No — some form of civil union was (though UK took its own civil union law much too far), but to call it “marriage” and thereby to contribute to the ongoing destruction of marriage as such was most definitely not either “inevitable” nor necessary — and it’s certainly not a positive development culturally.

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