The Women's Social and Political Union, 1903-1914



- Some property-owning women can, and do, vote in local elections, and serve on education boards as poor law guardians, so they should have the votes in national elections and serve in national boards.

-Some women are highly educated, work as doctors and teachers, and pay taxes like men so they should have the vote. Uneducated lower classes can vote.

-Women already have the vote in Australia and New Zealand and that has not led to disaster.

-Women are experts in education and the home so they can help parliament to make better laws on those issues.

-If women enter parliament, they will be able to push for laws to improve women's economic position (for example, access to more jobs) and social status (for example, access to more jobs) and social status (for example, equal rights within marriage.) thus the vote will enable women to end the exploitation of their sex and achieve economy.


-The role of women is within the home, looking after their husbands and children.
Giving women the vote will lead them to neglect their family duties.

-Women have a huge, indirect, influence through their husbands, on the politics of the country anyway so they do not need to vote.

-The interests of women are represented by their fathers, husbands and sons in parliament.

-Some women had already been granted the vote in local elections are doing good work in local government, which is women's proper sphere because it involved education, health, housing.

-Women do not fight in wars for their country so they should not have a say on questions of war and peace whether the country should go to war.



The WSPU was formed in 1903 in Manchester by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst. Emmeline had been involved in campaigning with the independent labour party but became frustrated at the lack of progress.

-Whereas the NUWSS was an alliance of groups, Sylvia and Christabel. The leadership style was very autocratic and the Pankhurst's demand complete obedience.

-They had no constitution, annual meetings, accounts.


-FEMALE SUFFRAGE: They did not seek votes for all women but votes on an equal status to men. 

In effect, since only 30 percent of males could vote, this meant their aim was for only women of middle-class wealth to vote. One critic said that they did not want votes for women, but for ladies.

-PRESSURING THE ILP: The Pankhurst were concerned that the ILP was not putting enough focus on female suffrage.

Furthermore, their focus on suffrage, which was based upon social status rather than simply universal female suffrage divided support within the labour party. Keir Hardie (labour leader) did support the WSPU's policies, but many other ILP members wanted to see more equal suffrage.

-FREEING WOMEN FROM SLAVERY: Christabel saw the campaign for the vote as part of a wider issue of freeing women from an enslaved social role where they have


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