El­e­vat­ing a fa­natic

BBC History Magazine - - Letters -

How dis­ap­point­ing it was to see Em­me­line Pankhurst voted one of the 100 Women Who Changed the World. The idea that she gained women the vote is one of the big­gest myths in Bri­tish history. What Pankhurst did was more than make pas­sion­ate speeches and break a few win­dows. Be­tween 1912 and 1914, she per­mit­ted ar­son at­tacks on churches, trains, the­atres and mu­se­ums; the send­ing of bombs and haz­ardous chem­i­cals through the post; and vi­o­lent tar­geted as­saults, such as the fire­bomb­ing of Lloyd Lloy Ge­orge’s house (Lloyd Ge­orge wa as a sup­porter of fe­male suf­fra age!), ar­son at­tacks on Kew Ga ar­dens and the bomb­ing of We est­min­ster Abbey. The T move­ment for fe­male suf­frage can be traced back at least 36 years be­fore Pankhurst formed the suf­fragettes, when the (sadly for­got­ten) suf­frag­ist move­ment was cre­ated in 1867. Af­ter a long and peace­ful cam­paign­ing process, they had made strides to­wards gain­ing fe­male suf­frage be­fore Pankhurst and her mil­i­tant meth­ods turned so­ci­ety against their cause.

The only help­ful thing Pankhurst ever did was stop her vi­o­lent “deeds not words” tac­tics af­ter the out­break of the First World War. It would be women’s con­tri­bu­tion to the war ef­fort that later gained them the vote, not the suf­fragettes. Pankhurst was a fa­natic who seemed to do her ut­most to de­grade and hin­der women’s rights in gen­eral. Em­i­lie Lam­plough, Wilt­shire

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