Parallel politics
Lloyd George plus Midlands suffragettes
in Vanishing for the vote
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During summer 1909, the confrontation sharpened between the government's welfare reform agenda and the demand for women's full citizenship. Key political figure was Lloyd George, promoting his ambitious National Insurance scheme. His ‘People's Budget’ of April 1909 would help pay for this, and thrust taxation centre-stage. Yet women tax-payers remained voteless. So by summer 1909, two concepts of citizenship increasingly clashed. On one hand, Lloyd George urged welfare reforms: democracy for people. On the other, suffragettes demanded a say in policy that affected them, like taxation: democracy by people. This confrontation was played out against an increasingly forbidding backdrop: prison, hunger-striking and shortly afterwards, forcible feeding. This chapter tells the story through the experience of Helen Watts, Nottingham suffragette. In February 1909, Helen attended the WSPU's Women's Parliament in Caxton Hall, joining the deputation carrying the resolution to ‘Runaway Asquith’. Arrest and imprisonment followed, to the concern of her family. For the other Nottingham suffragettes, Helen returned home from prison a heroine. In September, Helen joined a hunger-strike in Leicester prison. But when in the autumn forcible feeding was initiated in Birmingham's forbidding Winson Green gaol, Helen Watts pondered ~ about what was now being demanded of suffragettes.

Vanishing for the vote

Suffrage, citizenship and the battle for the census


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