Labour would pardon suffragettes and apologise for persecution, says Corbyn


Labour would pardon suffragettes and apologise for persecution, says Corbyn

The 1918 act gave permission to cast a ballot to women over 30 and with a property qualification - and men over the age of 21 - but it was also about evoking a change in politics which was underpinned by women's broad interests.

They, of course, fought for women to be given the right to vote, and would be horrified that some people don't seize the opportunity to do so. Yet while the suffragettes were inarguably more physical in their demonstrations, they were not using tactics the country had not seen before.

"The Pankhursts are said to be influenced by leading women from Rochdale - Enid Stacey, the late wife of the Vicar at Calderbrook, Priscilla Bright McLaren and Margaret Bright Lucas - so this is a great way to also celebrate the women of Rochdale who gained this universal right".

The suffragettes suspended their campaign of direct action when war broke out. It would take another 10 years before women were given full parity to men. Many faced the dangers of working in the rapidly expanding munitions factories where accidental explosions were not uncommon.

Amnesty International tracked abuse on social media platforms in last year's election and found that black MP Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, received nearly half of the abusive tweets sent.

By 1918, nearly a million women were employed in some form of munitions work. In 1893 women in South Australia achieved the same right and became the first to obtain the right to stand for parliament in 1895. The vote is a right dearly bought and one of enormous value.

Suffragettes used public protests, civil disobedience and occasionally violence in their campaign for women's votes.

Earlier in the day, the original Representation of the People Act was wheeled out in Parliament for the first time.

Following years of campaigning, on 6 February 1918, 8.4m women over the age of 30 were finally given the vote under the Representation of the People Act 1918.

This low percentage was due to the fact that only men who had been resident in the country for 12 months prior to a general election were entitled to vote.

In all, the changes significantly increased the British electorate from eight million before the war, to 21 million.

These new voters got to flex their new found influence at an election in December 1918 in which just 17 female candidates participated and only one, Constance Markievicz, triumphed. Among other reasons for remembering her are her commitment to the education of young women (especially through her part in founding Newnham College, Cambridge) and in the improvement of social conditions in London through her very active role in its county council.

It's been 100 years since women won the right to vote. Never before had so many women been imprisoned for a political cause. Advance booking is essential - details here.

Other significant artefacts housed in the library date back to 1912 and are tied to the women's suffrage movement.

Former leader of the Scottish Labour Party Kezia Dugdale believes that now the anniversary is upon us, it's time to start reshifting the focus on the Suffragist movement to include more women. The event has been commissioned by 14-18 NOW and is produced by "Artichoke", creators of large-scale public art events. It wasn't until 1975 that women could open a bank account in their own name.

Later this year a statue will be unveiled of Millicent Fawcettin London's Parliament Square.



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