September 18, 1911, To the Editor of The Standard. “The Anti-Suffrage Campaign”
Although Davison welcomes renewed interest in the question of woman suffrage in this
letter, her comment is both arch and disingenuous, given the successful media blitz the
suffrage movement had mounted since the formation of the WSPU in 1903, and the night in
1905 when Christabel Pankhurst stood up in a meeting in to ask if the Liberal government
was prepared to bring forward a bill for woman suffrage. Opposition to woman suffrage
came from many directions, including women like Miss Gladys Pott (1867-1961) who was a
vocal anti-suffragist and able organizer connected with the National League for Opposing
Woman Suffrage. In 1913 she became secretary of combined male and female anti-suffrage
organizations. She delighted in disrupting WSPU meetings with “anti” questions, and she
was frequently invited to debate suffragists. Like Emily Davison, she wrote prolifically,
particularly letters to the editor of The Times in which she refuted
suffragist claims of the benefits that would accrue to women once they had gained the
vote. Although an opponent, she was a kindred spirit to Davison in her commitment
to the printed word as a means of influence.
Sir, –There is a long account in your paper of a campaign against woman suffrage which
is being waged along the East Coast, to which you give great prominence. The National
League for Opposing Woman Suffrage is evidently quite awake to the fact that the
enfranchisement of women has every chance of taking place next year, and that if they are
to prevent it they must make super-human effort.
In despair the anti-suffragists are clinging to the straw that woman suffrage has
never been before the electorate. It has been before the electorate for the last 50 years, but
it has never been a live issue till six years ago. The jaunty assumption of Miss Gladys Pott
that ‘no member of Parliament has yet won his seat on the question of votes for women,
either one way or another,’ is somewhat ambiguously worded, but Miss Pott had better
turn up the Government organs on Mr. Masterman’s recent election by a much reduced
vote to see that woman suffrage figures very largely as a force in election contests to-day.
The National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage is doing us a great service in
removing the last shreds of apathy upon the question in the country,
I am Sir, your obedient servant,
EMILY WILDING DAVISON
31 Coram-street, W.C.