peacebuilding

Letter to the Editor from E. Sylvia Pankhurst

From The Tribunal, 13th December 1917

This is a further update in a series of extracts form the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
For further extracts go to: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE BILL

Dear Editor.— Whilst there is yet time pacifists should seriously consider whether the present Representation of the People Bill is a measure worthy to be placed in the British Statute Book in this twentieth century when so many other nations have thrown open the franchise both for local and national purposes to all men and women without any weighting of the scales to the advantage of the rich and the disadvantage of the poor, such as is provided by plural and dual voting, by pauper disqualification and by registration which is not continuous. This Bill differentiates most unjustly against women, providing that less than half of them will be enfranchised under it.

By the evil precedent of disenfranchising conscientious objectors it has struck a formidable blow at freedom and progress.

When this war, once advertised as “The War to end War,” at last comes to an end, the militarists will make a hard fight to retain conscription. Should they succeed, we shall see year by year growing numbers of young conscientious objectors disenfranchised. Thus the vote against militarism will be whittled down.

Nothing can be more dangerous to liberty of conscience and the progress of human kind than toleration of a system which punishes convictions by disenfranchisement. There is no doubt in my mind that pacifists should urge Members of Parliament to oppose the remaining stage of this Bill. As a woman who would be enfranchised under this measure I would rather wait till I can vote with all men and women on equal terms.—

Yours, etc. E Sylvia Pankhurst
400 Old Ford Road, E.

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