Jill Liddington
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The battle for John Burns’s Battersea revisited
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In the coming General Election, John Burns had the misfortune to be the only minister defending a central London seat. Both the Pankhursts’ WSPU and the Women's Freedom League (WFL) homed in on his Battersea fiefdom. Indeed, as this was Charlotte Despard's own backyard and Burns appeared to want to prohibit married women's employment, it was little surprise that the WFL produced a special leaflet: ‘Turn Mr Burns out!’ On polling day, Burns was hissed by women in the gallery ~ but was re-elected, as was Lloyd George. Asquith's Liberal government was returned to power, but without its earlier huge majority. Suffrage organizations however remained cautiously optimistic. Brailsford and Nevinson consulted Mrs Fawcett's NUWSS over what compromise suffrage measure might now be possible. It had to be a sufficiently narrow property-based franchise to retain Conservative support, yet broad enough to appease Liberal and Labour. A cross-party Conciliation Committee of MPs was formed and, after much behind-the-scenes lobbying, a Conciliation Bill eventually emerged. It was narrow and would only enfranchise one million women with property. But it would at least establish the principle of equal voting rights for men and women. This was their hope.

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Vanishing for the vote

Suffrage, citizenship and the battle for the census


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