As Tory icon and equally as demon of the Left, Margaret Thatcher has cast a long shadow, making it difficult to imagine modes and models of women's Conservative leadership without Britain's first woman prime minister as their logical culmination. The valuable work performed by Conservative women at grass roots has been acknowledged in the scholarship, as the strategies developed by the party mobilises women as both party workers and voters. The relationship between conservatism and women, and conservative women and feminism is in the process of being recalibrated by historians and political scientist. Despite the considerable political success of the Conservative Party, its Conservative Women's Association (CWA), and Tory women's scoring many significant 'firsts' in the aftermath of suffrage, there is a noticeable under-representation of Conservative and especially centre-right women in the historiography.
Emotional inflammation, mental health and shame in Britain during the September crisis
Julie V. Gottlieb
The dramatic unfolding of the Sudeten crisis, followed by the months of political and diplomatic aftershocks, received blanket coverage at the time and prompted much contemporary political commentary and fictional and non-fictional writing. The historiography of appeasement has been dominated by diplomatic historians and international relations specialists who fixate on geopolitical manoeuvring, the political leaders and opinion formers, and the media rendering of the crisis. Insofar as public opinion has been considered, it has been the ways in which politicians perceived the popular mood and sought to manage, manufacture and manipulate it. More recently, cultural, material culture, and gender historians have thought more elastically about the crisis, either as a history from below and/or a history of mentalities. But what of private opinion and intimate experience? This dimension barely features in the existing scholarship despite its undoubted value. In myriad ways and forms, the international crisis was personalised and subjectified – by rich and poor, by women and men, by urbanites and country folk, by young and old, the healthy and the ill, and equally by those who were actors in the drama as well as by those who were powerless. How can we access and record the ethereal, emotional, psychological and visceral experience of the Munich Crisis? This chapter is interested in how those on the peripheries of power – the silenced vast majority – lived through the crisis, drawing on private diaries and correspondence, Mass-Observation, and press representations of the ‘war of nerves’, including a spate of crisis-triggered suicides.
Historians and political scientists have deemed the twentieth century 'the Conservative Century', owing to the electoral and cultural dominance of the Conservative Party in Britain. This book traces the relationship among women, gender and the Conservative Party from the 1880s to the present, and thereby seeks to fill that gap. A gender inclusive approach allows for a more nuanced understanding of political machinations, power and the unprecedented popularity of both conservatism and unionism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The suffragette Christabel Pankhurst, was regarded as a charismatic, radical figure, who was the co-leader of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), a notorious suffrage organization campaigning for the parliamentary vote for women in Edwardian Britain. In 1928 Lady Iveagh, Vice-Chairman of the National Union of Conservative Associations (NUCA), claimed that one million women were members of the Conservative Party. The book focuses on how the Primrose League re-made itself for its female members between 1914 and 1932. It shows that the Conservative Party leadership and male candidates were keen to present themselves as the champions of home interests, playing up their family-man credentials against their rowdy electoral culture of Labour. The book also examines inquires how the deliberate choice of middlebrow rhetoric as well as the language of citizenship enabled Conservative women to construct a cross-class language of democracy. It explores British conservatism, highlighting the history of the Tory Party as part of the study of women and their sectional interest in 'the politics of gender'.
Historians and political scientists have deemed the twentieth century 'the Conservative Century', owing to the electoral and cultural dominance of the Conservative Party in Britain. One aspect that has been under-explored, however, is the party's mobilisation of women and its positioning on gender issues. Theresa May's achievement is one more powerful example of the ascendancy of women to pinnacle leadership positions and, arguably, the pattern is more pronounced on the Right and among conservative, nationalist and inward-looking and exclusionist parties worldwide than on the Left. In the interwar period, the Conservative Party offered training and examinations for women organisers in the party, who were full-time paid officials. David Thackeray reflects on new research on women in the party, their activities, organisation and representation, in the first decade after enfranchisement.
This introduction provides a brief overview of the existing scholarship on the appeasement era in general and the Sudeten crisis in particular. It demonstrates how the vast historiography of this topic has been uniform, employing a ‘top down’ approach that focuses overwhelmingly on the key protagonists (all men), on the ‘appeasing’ countries (especially Britain but also France), and the diplomatic and strategic impact of the crisis and its aftermath. The introduction contends that a more holistic and inclusive appraisal of the crisis is long overdue, an approach that attends to the broader social, cultural, emotional, material and international responses. It suggests further that there are substantial benefits to be derived from tapping into more recent and germane disciplinary trends, including the ‘cultural’ and ‘emotional’ turns. The introduction also teases out the links between the various contributions, accentuating the key themes and motifs that lend the collection its focus and coherence. It showcases the advantages of curating a timely selection of original and methodologically innovative approaches to a well-documented event, with a view to unpicking the hitherto under-explored links between the cultural and the diplomatic. In so doing, it positions the collection as an additional insight into the popular cultural and emotional responses to the imminent threat of modern warfare.
The turbulent diplomatic events of September 1938 aroused substantial public excitement, yet the ‘public’, the ‘people’, the ‘material’ and the ‘popular’ have hitherto been marginalised within a vast historiography dominated by traditional perspectives. Indeed, the most neglected aspects of this ‘model’ crisis – despite the abundance of sources – are the social, cultural, material and emotional, as well as public opinion, an oversight addressed in this collection. The book will also internationalise the original ‘Munich moment’, as existing studies are overwhelmingly Anglo- and Western-centric. It provides a corrective to the long-standing proclivity to consider the Munich Crisis almost exclusively from the viewpoint of politicians and diplomats. The original ‘moment’ will thus be analysed from a variety of relatively unchartered perspectives. Popular responses to the crisis will be prominent, comparing collective responses to individual ones, teasing out its psychological and emotional dimensions, allowing a more holistic and ‘emotional’ history to emerge. The variety of contributions provides an international breadth that is unprecedented in the existing literature, with chapters focusing not only on Britain but also Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the United States, Italy, Germany, France and the Soviet Union. It also furnishes a broader reflection on the status of our discipline, accentuating the benefits of exploring many of the hitherto under-scrutinised issues exposed by the ‘cultural’ and ‘emotional’ turns. The Munich Crisis will thus receive a thorough re-examination that moves beyond those formulaic and Anglo-centric analyses that fixate on positioning the (overwhelmingly male) practitioners of ‘high’ politics as either ‘appeasers’ or ‘anti-appeasers’.