August 21, 1912, Story from The Newcastle Daily Journal
Davison used this brief story, with its quiet North country humor, as a means of
critiquing the government and the unpopular Insurance Act, which provided insurance
for laboring men, but effectively denied its full benefit to women. Davison composed
a response sent on August 22 to the Newcastle Daily Journal and to the Birmingham
Evening Dispatch, in which it appeared on August 24. The quick turn-around of such
responses kept the stories and letters they addressed alive in readers’ minds.
Here (says the Evening Dispatch) is a little extract of humour out of the acrid
Insurance Act. In the Border district, near Kelso, a farmer ruefully contemplated
the sixteen cards of his farm servants. ‘Well,’ he says to the steward, ‘I’ll pay the
women’s insurance, but no’ the men’s!’ ‘What’s that for?’ asked the steward.
‘It’s the men’s votes that has dune a this, no the women’s. They had naething to
da w’it,’ was the explanation!
Davison’s response: To the Editor of The Newcastle Daily Journal, “Votes for
[this is a version of letter written same day Aug. 22, and published Aug 24 in
The Birmingham Evening Dispatch]
Sir,– The story from The Evening Dispatch of the logical Kelso farmer quoted
in your issue of August 21st serves a delightful double purpose. It points the
moral to adorn the tale of votes from women to the Government, which taxes
women without so much as a ‘by your leave,’ and tried to force down their throats
laws such as the Insurance Act, in which they have had no say, thereby directly
violating their own party principles.
The story also shows that many an ordinary decent working man like the
Kelso farmer has far more sense of justice and logic than the peddling politicians
whom he puts into office, and somewhat rashly allows to do as they like. Let him
just remember for one moment that if he likes to assert himself he is the
sovereign power in this country, and seeing that ‘union is strength,’ can soon
make the Government pay for introducing measures of which he does not
approve; whilst, also, he has the power to force it to do justice to women by
acknowledging them as part of the sovereign people.
EMILY WILDING DAVISON
22 August, 1912