War & the Transformation of British Society c.1903-28

Prior to 1914 the Liberals brought in a series os social welfare measures whilst women campaigned for the right to vote


Votes for Women

Prior to 1914 - 3 different societies campaigned for the vote for women:-

1)NUWSS - The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies

Set up by Millicent Fawcett in 1897, had 500 or more branches throughout the country.Suffragists believed that women would get the vote eventually.The NUWSS issued pamphlets, presented petitions & organised marches & meetings.

2)WFL - The Women's Freedom League

Set up in 1907 by Charlotte Despard. Members were not as peaceful as the suffragists & were prepared to break the law.eg. 1911 refused to take part in census.Chained themselves to the railings of parliment.

3)WSPU - The Women's Social & Political Union (most well know)

In 1903 Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst formed WSPU. it was more extreme & militant. Disrupting a Liberal party meeting in 1905, Stone throwing in central London in 1912. At the Epsom Derby in 1913 Emily Davison was killed trying to pin a suffragette banner on the Kings horse. 1912-14 suffragettes increased violence, cutting telephone lines,setting fires to post boxes, & attacking leading Liberals.

Reaction of the authorities-

More & more suffragettes were arrested, but then inprisoned thy went of hunger strike. Authorities had to Force feed suffragette prisoners on hunger strike. 1913 "Cat & Mouse Bill" introduced where by prisoners on hunger strike were released when very ill & sent back to prison when they had recovered!

Often the actions of the Suffragettes had the opposite effect than gaining the vote. Their extreme militant activities convinced many people they were not responsible enough to have the vote. Also made it difficult for the PM Asquith, to introduce such measures without looking as though he was giving into violence.

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