Home Secretary Amber Rudd tells Piers Morgan that pardoning suffragettes is "tricky"

07 February 2018, 01:25 | Isaac Mcdaniel

TwitterRuth Davidson is gay and the leader of the Scottish Conservatives

Gay party leader champions calls for suffragettes to be pardoned

Men and women must "redouble" their efforts to fight for gender equality, London's mayor said on Tuesday, as Britain marks a century since women won the right to vote.

Initially it only allowed women over the age of 30 the right to vote, but they had to have property rights or a university education.

They believed women didn't have the capacity to understand politics, and portrayed the suffragettes as a group of "ugly" women and "spinsters".

It would be a further 10 years until the vote was extended to all women, when the Equal Franchise Act was passed, but it was a major step in the right direction.

Referencing the exclusion of some women from enfranchisement in 1918, novelist and broadcaster Bonnie Greer said political life for a woman is still "different, harder, less rewarding, more risky than it is for a man".

"Some were severely mistreated and force-fed in prison post-conviction, so a pardon could mean something to their families", he added.

Fawcett was a "Suffragiste", a campaigner for voting rights through non-violent action, her statue to be placed next to Winston Churchill.

After years of writing romance novels, Despard turned her hand to charity and suffrage when her husband died.

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Meanwhile, with celebrations marking the centenary taking place across the UK, Mrs May hailed "the enormous strides we have taken as a society" ahead of a speech in Manchester, the birthplace of universal suffrage leader Emmeline Pankhurst. It wouldn't be right for the current government to, in effect, strike out this episode by pardoning her.

"They [the anti-suffrage images] are portraying the suffragettes as being absolute harridans, slovenly housewives, appalling mothers, that they were ugly, that they looked like men, that they were lesbians", says Ms Atherton.

As the Mayoress Christine Duckworth, raised the flag, she gave thanks to the suffragettes saying: "It is important to commemorate this occasion, so we can remember our past and the sacrifices that those ladies made".

"We're talking about a period where a significant number of women had taken over men's roles in the workplace after they had gone off to fight, and we're talking about a period where women for the first time had been involved with the armed forces, which was a great leap forward". "In any meaningful sense of the word, they were not criminals".

Originally, under the leadership of Fawcett, the movement was largely moderate.

It seemed that not even all suffragettes could agree on their methods that they should use, however, with Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel having broken away from the group in 1907 to form the Women's Freedom League.

But unlike her mother and sister, she maintained a political affiliation, which for many years was restricted by the WSPU. She was jailed and released 11 times for her campaigning. She then refused to pay the fine so that she would be sent to prison.

"The prominence of LGBT women in the suffragette movement has often been overlooked, particularly in periods when both society and the law discriminated heavily against LGBT people".



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