35. October 25, 1911, To the Editor of the Leeds Mercury, “Mr. Lloyd George and His
During the fall of 1911 Emily Davison seems to have been concerned to set the record straight
about the behavior and tactics of pro-suffrage groups. It may be that this focus was part of
the “truce” Emmeline Pankhurst had proclaimed during the time when there was hope that a
woman suffrage bill would be passed.
The fall of 1911 was a tense period for those who supported woman suffrage, a time
of hopeful expectation. The Woman’s Enfranchisement Bill of 1911 (there had been such bills
in 1910 and would be one in 1912) was introduced in February, received a Second Reading
(that is was voted on after general debate), passed by 255 to 88 votes in the Commons, and
then stalled. On November 7, 1911 the Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith withdrew his
support from the bill and announced the government would propose a universal male suffrage
bill which would could be amended to include some degree of woman suffrage in the next
Parliament. This letter, explaining a failure of communication, sought to deflect criticism of
pro-suffrage groups at a crucial moment:
Sir, –In a paragraph dealing with the deputation of the Men’s Political Union for Women’s
Enfranchisement by [to?] Mr. Lloyd George, after his speech on the Conciliation Bill at
Whitefield’s Tabernacle, on October 14th, you say that ‘the agreement was that if those who
supported the conciliation Bill refrained from interrupting the speech by Mr. Lloyd George,
he would receive a deputation.’ The paragraph goes on to say , that the compact was not
strictly kept on the Suffragists’ side, in spite of which Mr. Lloyd George received them.
Will you allow me to put the real facts of the case? The M.P.C. [reference not clear]
had previously asked Mr. Lloyd George to receive a deputation. Mr. Lloyd George refused,
but an hour before the meeting began, sent a message that he would receive a deputation
after his meeting. Mr. Duval accepted this, but made a condition that he should be allowed
to explain the arrangement from the platform before the speech began, as several of the
M.P.C. were already in the Hall resolved to heckle. This was settled. When Mr. Duval
arrived, however, he was refused admittance by the police. He could not, therefore, ask the
men there not to interrupt, and some of them did so. Mr. Lloyd George, of course, received
the Deputation as the interruptions were due to defective arrangements.
EMILY WILDING DAVISON
31 Coram-street, London, W.C.
October 23rd, 1911