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How And Why Women Got The Right To Vote In Britain

2800 words - 11 pages

How and Why Women Got the Right to Vote in Britain

In 1906 the Liberal Government swept the opposition to one side as
they moved into power in a landslide victory at the general election.
This gave birth to a new dawn of hope to women the length and breadth
of the country as the new Prime Minister, Sir Henry Campbell
Bannerman, was in support of the vote for women. Two years later this
bright horizon was clouded as Bannerman steps down from the spotlight
to make way for Herbert Asquith, who is set against votes for women
and claims that there is little support for the idea but asks women to
prove him wrong. It is certain the change in the countries leaders
left a bitter taste in the mouth of all those fighting for the vote
for women as the radical switch in stance on the issue shattered the
dreams of the those who had been within touching distance of the goal
only twenty four mouths ago. The women striving for the vote had
formed two campaigning groups, one; the NUWSS and two; The WSPU, both
of which had been in action during the time of Bannerman as well as
Asquith. It is fairly safe to say that the two groups were hugely
demoralised when the seemingly sympathetic figure of Henry Bannerman
was replaced by the daunting brick wall of Herbert Asquith. A wall
that would have to be climbed or conquered one way or another.

During the time of Bannerman members of the NUWSS had been using
subtle and respectable methods of campaigning that would force the
Government and general population to realise that they were not merely
emotionally unbalanced house keepers trying to rock the boat, but
socially capable and intelligent members of our society. The NUWSS
created this image by organised meetings and petitions, which were
always peaceful, non-offensive and to the point. Meanwhile the WSPU
were staining the clean picture of women the NUWSS were painting by
protesting outside the house of commons which led to their arrest.
They also disrupted by-elections by causing an uproar as MPs were
speaking. The actions of the WSPU provided ammunition for those
opposed to votes for women as they could now say, with reason, that
women would not be fit for matters of politics as when all was not
going their way they behaved in a disruptive manner that was
unacceptable in the world of politics. It was a case of a few spoiling
everything for everyone else. In an attempt to gain the attention of
the Government the NUWSS marched upon London with an army of three
thousand women through appalling weather. It is a brave and gruelling
act that saw women from all over England band together and hold a
disciplined and peaceful march in order to claim what they believe is
their right. The right to vote. The "Mud March" was all in vain though
as barely a year later Asquith became Prime Minister and the chances
of...

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