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Different ways of winning the vote:
Propaganda both the suffragists and suffragettes made effective use of propaganda. The WSPU
had a newspaper called `votes for women'. By 1914 it had a circulation of 40,000. Suffragettes used
their slogan `votes for women' and their colours (purple, white and green) to sell many items. New
fashions were produced featuring the suffragette colours.
Meetings and demonstrations both the NUWSS and the WSPU held many public meetings. Some
were huge and held in buildings like Royal albert hall in London, others were held in open air places
like Trafalgar square and on village greens. Demonstrations grew larger and larger and it was not
unusual for numbers to reach over 20,000. The NUWSS women's pilgrimage in 1913 was a great
success, with thousands of women taking part and newspapers reporting the event favourably due
to the peaceful way it was carried out.
Putting pressure on government petitions were drawn up and sent to Parliament. WSPU and
NUWSS worked with the government towards the conciliation bill. The petition in support of the
conciliation bill contained over 250,000 signatures. Women met with MPs to try and persuade them
to support votes for women. MPs who did support votes for women were helped in election
campaigns by women who canvassed for them.
Civil disobedience another argument was that as you could only vote if you paid taxes , those who
couldn't vote shouldn't have to pay taxes so many women refused to pay. Some also boycotted the
Hunger strikes they started in 1909 as a way of forcing the authorities to recognise suffragette
prisoners as political prisoners rather than just ordinary criminals. Won sympathy for the suffragettes.
Violent or illegal methods:
Window smashing first types of violence used by the suffragettes. It was a spontaneous reaction
to the repeated failure of suffrage bills in parliament, but used later as a deliberate tactic. Windows
of government offices were favourite targets.
Arson started in a big way in 1913 when Emily Davison planted a bomb at Lloyd George's newly
built house in Surrey.
Also targeted post, pouring chemicals into letter boxes destroying all the letters. Attacked works of
art in art galleries. Cut telegraph wires. Burnt messages into golf courses using acid.
Attacking people individuals such as doctors who refused to denounce force-feeding were
attacked. An axe was thrown at Asquith and only narrowly missed him. Suffragettes also heckled
politicians and were often thrown out of meetings.
The reaction of the authorities:
Policing even before they used violence the government dealt with protesters harshly. Women
were banned from liberal meetings. In November 1910 the conciliation bill was stalled and the WSPU
protests and this turns into `Black Friday' a fight with the police officers resulting in many women
being physically and sexually assaulted by police officers.
Force-feeding government's response to hunger strikes. This was hugely unpopular and `votes
for women' published stories of force-feeding to gain support and sympathy.
The cat and mouse act this was passed in 1913 as a solution to the unpopularity of
force-feeding. Hunger-strikers were released in order to recover their health. Once recovered they
could be re-arrested and sent back to prison to serve the rest of their sentence. It was criticised
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It was still passed though, by 296 votes to 43. In
1913 Emmeline was in and out of prison 12 times.
The reaction of the press:
Some newspapers like the times were totally against the idea of women having the vote. It often
reported events in a biased way. The suffragettes were often called lunatics and their behaviour was
explained as a result of hysteria. However not all newspapers were against women's suffrage.…read more
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- Millicent Fawcett supported the war effort saying in august 1914 `women your country needs you'
- however she opposed conscription and the giving of white flowers
- they set up an employment register in 1915 and recruited a lot of women to replace the men who
had gone to the front
- ran training schools to train women for the new work they were to do. (E.g.…read more
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Also the conservatives opposed the
idea of young women voting as they were worried young working class women would vote labour.
Britain during the First World War
On Monday the 4th of august 1914, Britain declared war on Germany
- When war broke out, Britain had a small army of around 250,000 professional soldiers.…read more