Dora B. Montefiore 1918

Labour Party Women’s Conference

Source: The Call, 24 October 1918, p. 8
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Closing my eyes for a few minutes at the Labour Party Women’s Conference, on October 15th and, 16th, I could almost have fancied myself back at some Women’s Liberal Conference of the past. There was, of course, the added impulse at the back of the voting on the resolutions that women (some of them) now have the political vote, which they did not formerly possess, but the appeals from the platform were, with one or two exceptions, of the vote touting order: “Send Labour representatives to Parliament and all will be well,” while the fact that 60 of the delegates, out of a delegacy of 260, were from organisations not even affiliated to the Labour Party, tended to water down the debates and bring in the statement of opinions and principles which had no bearing on Labour questions.

The brilliant exception to the ordinary platform speeches was that of Miss Ellen Wilkinson, who seconded the resolution on Wednesday morning on the Political Organisation of Women, stating that she represented the young women, who were industrially organised, who were shut out from political expression, and who were demanding “all the new freedoms.” These are the women for whom the Adult Suffrage Society, the old S.D.F. and the present B.S.P. have always worked, and who were betrayed by Mr. Clynes, when representing the Labour Party on the Electoral Reform Com mission. The Labour Party at its annual Conferences had always declared for Adult Suffrage, which, had it insisted on when called to send a representative to the Electoral Reform Commission, these young women, whose work during the last four years has helped to save the fortunes of war, would now have political representation, and Miss Wilkinson ably voiced their disabilities in a speech which was practically a vote of censure on the action of the Labour Party.

In the same way we should have taken more seriously the rather verbose Peace Resolution presented to the Women’s Conference had the British Labour Party protested five or six years ago against the action of the Australian Labour Party, which, being in power, forced compulsory military training on all boys over twelve years of age, and imprisoned those who objected on conscientious grounds.

Working women, when giving their vote to Labour candidates, should question them very closely about the provisions of the proposed “Ministry for Health,” otherwise they will find that they have had imposed upon them another inquisitorial measure, marking them and their families off as hewers of wood and drawers of water whom in the interests of employers and the Capitalist State it is advisable to keep in decent health.