Recent articles by Lucy Parsons
Student protest, Cheltenham, Dec 8th 0 comments
Bristol bookfair organising meeting 0 commentsRecent Articles about Bristol The Environment
An open letter to Climate Rush on suffrage and arson.
Dear Climate Rush
Hi guys and good luck to you on setting up a new activist group in Bristol.
I'm also very pleased that you, like London Climate Rush, invoke the spirit of the women's suffrage movement in all of your literature and support their cry “Deeds not words”.
Though I'm a little concerned that you may may be taken in by a sanitised version of the, ongoing, struggle for the emancipation of women and men. When we forget the past we cannot hope to build the future
Whilst the women's suffrage movement wore bonnets and sashes (as did most political movements in those hat wearing/ pre printed T shirt days) a potentially significant spanner in the suffrage activist tool-kit was the targeted use of violence.
Here is a link to just one (academic and critical) overview.
To save you reading it all, I'll highlight that there were 337 arson or bomb attacks claimed by the Women's Suffrage and Political Union in 1913 / 1914. This includes the destruction of the houses of two serving MPs and a number of pipe bombs placed in town halls throughout the country, though it does not include the far higher figure for activities not claimed by the WSPU though reported in the mainstream press, such as the total destruction of a colliery in South Shields. It's also worth noting that these clandestine attacks were an escalation of the even more wide spread suffrage activity of synchronised window smashing. A favourite target was the Ritz in London. That's the same Ritz which got smashed up again about this time last year, just as the Labour party leader was saying that the anti cuts movement should be more like the women's suffrage movement, thought I doubt this is what he meant!
Here is a link to Michael Portilo (that bastion of all that is good) and a panel of academics from the Open University discussing the phenomena of militant suffrage.
Here is a video of the recreation of suffragette Theresa Garnett attacking Winston Churchill at Bristol Temple Meads on 15th November 1909. http://www.brh.org.uk/video/suffragette.html
In fact despite the numerous attempts to reduce the women's suffrage movement to a group of passive, bonneted sash wearers, a fair amount of information on the WSPU is out their via your favourite search engine.
Now to be clear I'm not in any way suggesting that you should emulate all the activities of the women's suffrage movement. More that you should be aware that when they said “Deeds not Words” they probably meant militant attacks on the symbols of male and class privilege rather than giving out heart shaped biscuits to employees of multimillion pound businesses .