Suffragettes and Working Class Men 100 Years Ago!

Posted on February 7, 2018

There has, justifiably, been a lot of news about the anniversary of women finally getting the vote 100 years ago. However, if you dig a little deeper, it does make you wonder how much historical facts distort over time.

Check these facts out.

1/ Yes, women did get the vote 100 years ago, but only if they were over 30 and had property.

2/  1918 was also pivotal for men living with their parents, or in the homes of their employers (such as servants), or in barracks (soldiers, etc), or who were homeless — before that they were not allowed to vote despite serving and get slaughtered for King and country. If they refused to get slaughtered in La Somme, they were shot by a firing squad.

Up until 1918 voting was dominated by the gentry, although city based male householders were given the vote in 1867 whilst those in the country had to wait until 1884.

1918 changed everything, not just for the Suffragettes but also for working class men who had survived the misery of the First World War. Some say giving these chaps the vote was recognition of the war effort, others are more cynical.

Was it perhaps that with women getting the vote and a mass shortage of men after the WWI carnage, the government needed as many male voters as possible to stop a female majority and God forbid, women entering the corridors of power?

That would certainly explain, in part at least, the female voting age being kept above 30. There were a lot more young women around than men in 1918, which, I suppose, was one tiny consolation for the lucky troops who somehow made it back.

What I have found interesting is the gushing comments coming from politicians (Theresa May for instance) about the the heroics of the Suffragettes when, ultimately they are representing a party whose ultimate figurehead, Winnie Churchill, pretty much despised them (The Suffragettes).

Here’s what Winnie said;

“The women’s suffrage movement is only the small edge of the wedge, if we allow women to vote it will mean the loss of social structure and the rise of every liberal cause under the sun. Women are well represented by their fathers, brothers, and husbands”.

I know it was a different time, but I can’t help but imagine that if Theresa May had been alive when Churchill said that (around 1912) she would have been nodding sagely and pouring scorn on the audacity of working class female factory workers who had turned to what is always the last resort of the repressed, that being violence.

Can you really imagine a pious old bat like Theresa May rising up against the aristocracy entrenched in the corridors of power? Do me a Rod Laver.

So anyway, what I am saying is that 1918 was an incredible year for the suffragettes but only the beginning of a pursuit for equality that goes on to this day.

However, whether it was a reward for the suffering, or a tactical manoeuvre by those in power, it was all so an incredible year for working class men who had been denied just about every human right thinkable.

And just to think, in 2018, people are actually considering the prospect of voting for Jacob Rees Mogg (a man out of the nightmares of a six year old Dickensian chimney sweep) who would salivate at taking back control.

Not from Europe, from ordinary people.

Strange times.

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