November 2015


High on my list of films to see is Suffragette, a movie that has been lauded and criticised for its depiction of women’s struggle to obtain the vote in the late eighteenth and early twentieth century. It is set in a period just before the First World War and focuses on the militant activities of the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union) in Britain.

Britain at this time was a class ridden society, and although some members of the WSPU were working class women, the majority came from the middle and upper classes, particularly those who followed Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel.

Emmeline’s daughter, Sylvia Pankhurst who, unlike her mother and sisters, had a strong attachment to the Labour party, and was particularly close to Keir Hardie was the one who brought the suffragette struggle to the working classes. She disagreed with Christabel’s tactic of turning the WSPU towards upper and middle-class women, and due to her disagreements about the way the WSPU was conducting the struggle for votes, she broke away from them and set up the East London Federation of Suffragettes (ELFS). This organisation was more democratic with a greater focus on working women and even included men.

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