Friday, December 15, 1911, To the Editor of The Manchester Guardian, “The Proposed Women’s Suffrage Amendment”
This is the last letter Davison would write in 1911, and the last one for many months, forin early 1912 she was incarcerated in Holloway prison. Here she warms once more to the theme that men can be as “illogical” as women. The subject is the WSPU’s rejection of woman suffrage dependent on “arbitrarily determined” qualifications such as residency requirements or income requirements–-“fancy franchises” based on an arbitrarily determined qualification. The WSPU sought the parliamentary vote for women on the same basis as men had it, a simple goal, yet one that seemed in December, 1911, both tantalizingly near and agonizingly distant. Her conclusion that the goal will be achieved by “frank and fearless militancy—the policy of keeping on pestering” presages her own actions and writing in the year to come.
Sir, –The letter of ‘Disfranchised by Marriage’ proves completely and incontrovertibly how absurd is the position taken up by Mr. Lloyd George and those who agree with him as to the solution of the women’s suffrage question. The only logical and possible ground on which to fight for this reform is that insisted upon by the W.S.P.U.—‘The vote on the same terms as it is or may be granted to men,’—otherwise the question is landed into the old quagmire of ‘fancy’ franchises against which Mr. Lloyd George and others have inveighed so much in the past. It really is extraordinary how illogical people are on this franchise question? [sic] You yourself sought to beg it by declaring that the new bill will not mean a manhood suffrage qualification, but a change from a number of fancy franchises to that of residence—another fancy franchise. It is no doubt possible to cure one evil by another evil, but often the last stage of the experiment is worse than the first.
The plain truth of the matter is that the sex which claims to be logical is so absolutely illogical that it seems impossible to pin it down to fact. Hence it is that frank and fearless militancy—the policy of keeping on pestering—seems to be ‘the only way.’ Yours, &c.,
EMILY WILDING DAVISON
31 Coram Street, London, W.C.
[Why is the qualification by a brief residence a ’fancy franchise’? It includes everybody who has any kind of fixed abode. We can imagine nothing much less fanciful. If the female sex is the logical one our correspondent is perhaps not a good sample of it. To try to wreck every practicable policy is apparently her conception of the logical way of setting about to get something done.—Ed. ‘GUARD.’]