The Suffragist Debate
The two day’s Parliamentary debate on D. J. Shackleton’s Parliamentary Franchise (Women) Bill was of considerable interest and we find in it much support for the stand we have taken in opposition to the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Winston Churchill showed with great force that its effect would simply be to multiply fagot votes for the wealthy—not that he is so immensely concerned for the political representation of the workers as for the electoral success of the Liberal party. The whole trend of the debate too, showed plainly enough how essentially undemocratic is the spirit of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the measures it proposes, as witness the remarks of Messrs. McLaren and Balfour for and of Mr. Lloyd George against the Bill. The attitude of the latter is curious as compared with his plea for his Pensions Scheme. His excuse for the paucity of this ratepayers’ Godsend was that one must necessarily begin with a small instalment, but now we are told that this “Women’s Bill” is to be condemned because it is a small instalment! The humbug of the whole process was demonstrated when a large majority for the second reading was converted into a large majority for its relegation to the Parliamentary dust hole.
We have no quarrel with the abstract proposal that women should have an equal part with men in the arrangement of the common activities, i.e., politics ; but that is a very different matter to advising working women to join a franchise agitation at this time of day. And more than ever is the stupidity of their participation demonstrated in face of such proposals as those of Shackleton, Pankhurst, Snowden and Balfour.