Dora Montefiore Justice 1910

The Coming General Election

Source: Justice, Our Women’s Circle, p. 5, March 26, 1910;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

Though women in the United Kingdom cannot vote, they are called upon by all parties at election time to give a hand at educating voters; and it is in the power of Socialist women to do an immense deal of useful propaganda at such times. It is therefore very necessary to have at one’s command chapter and verse for the statements we make, so that when question time comes we may be able to give a reason for the faith that is in us. Now, one of the statements we Socialists frequently make is that there is no vital difference, no difference of principle between Tories and Liberals; and we are just as frequently confronted by “soft Socialists” with the objection, “But are not the Liberals the lesser of two evils?” Well, we have Lord Crewe answering in the House of Lords that question for us; and I think his answer does away, once and for all, with the lurking lie that there is any difference — as far as the governed are concerned — between the two great historic governing parties. Lord Crewe, as reported in “The Times” of March 17th, said: “And so it is that we cannot in this country, situated as we are, get rid of the party system, which, after all, has its good side. It means common action between men who in the main agree.” That is so, my lord; and that is exactly what happened when Liberals and Tories went into the same lobby and voted against the Right to Work Bill. Once more, it is what happened when Mr. Snowden and his allies, who are now more or less absorbed in the Liberal majority, publicly stated that there was practically no necessity now for a Right to Work Bill, since the Labour Exchanges had been established! “Common action between men who in the main agree.” We thank thee, Crewe, for giving us that word.

Women’s Activities in Public Work.

A Canadian suffragist has interrupted a public meeting, and asked why the Government was not bringing forward a measure to give political enfranchisement to women. She was not arrested. — Twenty French women are to stand for Parliament in May. Among them are Madame Pelletier, a barrister; Madame Durand, late editor of the “Fronde,” and at present editing “Les Nouvelles”; and three of the women writers on the paper, “La Suffragiste”; the basis of their common platform is that they are all anti-Clerical and Radical. — There are at present 1,336 women serving on public bodies in Great Britain: County Councils 3, Town Councils 9, Metropolitan Borough Councils 9, Urban District Councils 3, Rural District Councils’ 47, and Boards of Guardians 1,165. I can find, no returns giving the proportion of Socialist women on public bodies; but I want to urge on Socialist women the necessity of making every sacrifice in order to get elected to these bodies. There are great possibilities, in administration of Socialist propaganda; and many of the ignorant and mischievous prejudices against Socialism which are so cleverly instilled into the minds of the workers by Primrose Dames and paid anti-Socialists can be dispelled by contract with the life and inspiration of devoted Socialist administrators.

The Adult Suffrage Society.

The adjourned general meeting of the Adult Suffrage Society was held at the headquarters, 122. Gower Street, on Wednesday, March 16, when it was agreed that in view of public interest being centred at the present time on the questions of the Lords and of the Budget, it was better to go on quietly with educational work until interest in franchise reform was revived throughout the country. A resolution was passed that the present officers should continue to carry on their work; and, on, the motion of Mrs. Muir Stanbury, Mrs. Shone was appointed assistant general secretary and Treasurer. Mrs. Shone has lived several year in Australia, where she has frequently exercised the vote; she is a keen politician, his lately joined the Central Branch of the SDP and is prepared to give much of her time to Socialist work and propaganda. Slowly but surely this question of the democratisation of all political machinery is forcing its way to the front, as all parties realise how useless is the present worn-out apparatus in representing the political desires of a majority of the voters. As regards the question of Proportional Representation, Lord Courtney of Penwith said the other day: “We are still in want of the ‘safe guidance’ which could be derived from an express and certain embodiment of the national mind in the national Legislature. We have not a faithful reproduction of the different elements of strength that should combine to take up the Grand Inquest of the nation.” As a matter of fact, Proportional Representation can no longer be looked upon as an academic but untried remedy. Denmark, Belgium, Wurtemberg, Finland, Tasmania, Sweden, and several Swiss cantons use it in Parliamentary elections; and the Transvaal and Denmark use it in municipal elections; while United South Africa elect their Senate under its guiding principle.