One reality of the aspect that women’s universal suffrage often (not always) lagged behind that for…
Douglas Milnes
31

I don’t know much about the movement in Australia but I agree with you completely on Britain. I think the suffragettes actually did more to hinder the introduction of universal suffrage than to help it. But apparently history is made in Hollywood now.

I think that especially on the conservative side of British policies, there was some support for the suffragettes precisely for that reason. They didn't care about women having the vote. They would have quite happily given it to upper-class women like the Pankhursts: They just didn't want the hoi-polloi having the vote because of course they would all vote Liberal /Labour. They believed that Pankhurst would split the original movement for universal suffrage and turn it instead into a Pankhurst personality cult, revolving around Emmeline and Cristobel’s upper-crust friends (but barely tolerating their servants too).

Some earlier suffragists believed that the Tories had played Pankhurst like a piano, but I think Pankhurst was happy to be played. She didn’t want the lower classes having the vote either.

She gladly suspended the protests for the duration of the war; feigning a commitment to patriotism; but I believe the evidence suggests that she too was afraid of becoming unpopular. That the movement for sufferage was becoming unpopular was irrelevant to her. Her image was what counted. And even if she had continued and succeeded; she certainly didn't want those servants having the vote.

She spent the first two years of the war supporting the white feather campaign and campaigning for conscription (for men only of course.) She didn’t like those lower class males anyway, and seems to have taken the view that the high casualty rates were going to be good for women in the long run, because it would mean the factories would still need to employ women even after the surviving men came home.

She had always said that leftists were disagreeable people. Her own woman’s party was decidedly right-wing but it was also feminist and so it fell apart amidst the constant hysterical outrage festivals that can always be counted on from a feminist. In 1926 she finally she joined the Conservative party.

Pankhurst disliked the left so much she disowned her own daughter, Sylvia for Sylvia’s socialist views. They had something of a reconciliation later but Emmeline furiously denounced Sylvia a second time for having a child out of wedlock. Pankhurst believed in Christian Protestant values; although why she choose the French Catholic Jean d’Arc as the patron saint of her movement is anyone’s guess.

Pankhurst was a minor-aristocratic bigot, openly racist, a war-monger, and a committed Christian conservative.

Some icon for the left! If anyone with her views turned up to speak at Oxford today, they would be no-platformed.

She has become an icon for feminism and the left in general, because they don’t know anything about her except that she was a feminist.

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