Jill Liddington
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After census night
Clemence’s resistance, Asquith’s betrayal
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Tabloid newspapers now splashed photographs of census evaders over their front pages. Tuesday's Daily Sketch even depicted slumbering bodies inside Manchester's ‘Census Lodge’. The broadsheets looked soberly at the broader picture. Tuesday's Times editorialized: ‘The Census: Failure of Suffragist Efforts at Evasion’. Thus two census narratives began to emerge, each claiming victory. John Burns stood up in the Commons on Wednesday and unperturbedly claimed that the number of census evaders ‘is altogether negligible’. At which the MPs cheered. Elsewhere, the WSPU and WFL waited anxiously for court summons and arrests. None came. The suffragettes celebrated their victory. The summer was indeed a time of suffrage optimism. In June, 40,000 women marched together in procession, constitutionalists and militants alike. Tax resisters seized propaganda opportunities. The highest-profile resister was modest but well-connected Clemence Housman. Imprisoned in Holloway, her case went right up to Asquith's office. Suddenly Clem was released early. However, in November Asquith unexpectedly announced a manhood suffrage measure ~ leaving women out once again. Suffrage organizations reacted furiously, the WSPU with window-smashing, and later arson attacks on empty buildings. The story of these last 2½ years of peace is told elsewhere.

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Vanishing for the vote

Suffrage, citizenship and the battle for the census


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