Monday, 12 February 2018

Social and Political Union?

Peter Hitchens makes a strong case against pardoning the Suffragettes, but it is probably now inevitable. Therefore, the legislation annulling the Suffragettes' convictions must also annul all convictions and other adverse court decisions arising out of Clay Cross, Shrewsbury, Wapping, and the three Miners' Strikes since 1970. Make sure that there is at least one member of the next Parliament who will insist on that.

Hitchens's proposition that women such as were enfranchised in 1918 would have been so earlier if it had not been for the Suffragettes' antics is so uncontroversial that I was taught it as fact at A-level more than 20 years ago.

What he fails to mention, however, is that the men who were enfranchised in 1918, and the women who had to wait until 1928 on (as in most cases) class rather than age grounds, would never, ever have achieved it purely by "peaceful constitutional and political reform". The working-class men were given it because they had been all ready to stage a revolution without it, and the working-class women, eventually, because of the efforts of those who fought on.

The rest of them were no more part of any popular uprising than Cromwell was, or than Jefferson was, or than Robespierre was. The Russian Revolutionaries were a more disparate lot, at least initially, but it is sad to see Hitchens repeating the Russian monarchist line that blames it all on the Germans. To this day, there are French monarchists who blame it all on the English. These things are fun, and they are funny, in small doses, and with one's tongue in one's cheek. But not otherwise.

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