December 4, 1911, To the Editor of The Yorkshire Observer
This letter makes Davison’s plea for voice and agency clearer: government ministers, even the Prime Minister, must respond to questions in the House and at meetings. Why are women’s questions deemed interruptions and unseemly?
Sir, –Under the same heading as that under which you attacked us for the events of November 21 you now pour abuse on us for the event of November 27. In times past you have uttered some strictures when we have gone to Cabinet Ministers’ meetings to remind them that the cause of woman suffrage would not be denied, but your epithets as to this latest occasion are as unrestrained as you describe our actions to be. And why this outcry on this special occasion? Mr. Asquith is the paid servant of the public, and is answerable to the women as well as the men; only he refuses to listen to them. Why this outcry when interruptions are made at his meetings? Has Mr. Asquith never been howled down before? What about a recent famous scene in the House of Commons—(oh, shades of horror!)—when the Die-Hards, led by Lord Hugh Cecil, certainly howled down the head of the Government in the House itself. What about various Liberal meetings broken up by Conservative opponents, and vice versa? This is no new thing in politics. Every Member of Parliament or of the Cabinet knows that he is subject to heckling and questioning at public meetings, and, if he cannot stand it or deal with it, he is not worth much.
As for Ramsay Macdonald and his dire threat, it has no effect upon us; in fact, we are rejoiced that he has revealed himself in his true light as a foe to the woman’s cause. We want no crocodile tears. I am, &c.,
EMILY WILDING DAVISON
31 Coram Street, London, W.C.
[Propagandists would make free discussion impossible if they all imitated the violent woman suffragists and demanded that their programmes only and all the time should be talked about by our public men. It is especially fatuous to ask the Prime Minister to concentrate his thought and speech upon woman suffrage, for it is notorious that he is opposed absolutely to giving women the vote. Our correspondent and her friends ought to realize that there are some things women cannot do by screaming and nagging, and one of these things is the conversion of anti-suffragists like Mr. Asquith into enthusiastic advocates for giving votes to the screamers.—EDITOR]