‘Incipient Toryism’? The Women's Social and Political Union and the Independent Labour Party, 1903–14

Cowman, Krista (2002) ‘Incipient Toryism’? The Women's Social and Political Union and the Independent Labour Party, 1903–14. History Workshop Journal, 53 (1). pp. 128-148. ISSN 1477-4569

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hwj/53.1.128

Abstract

Although the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) was founded by women who were also activists in the Independent Labour Party (ILP), early versions of its history, by participants, largely concurred that the two organizations drifted apart rapidly. They argued that the suffragette WSPU was then dominated by an increasingly middle-class leadership who eschewed socialism in favour of a rigidly-enforced political independence and were ultimately found favouring the right after the First World War. Recent local studies of the WSPU suggest a different picture at grass-roots level, where significant branch activists retained their loyalty to suffrage and socialism throughout the militant campaign. This article challenges the prevailing idea of a middle-class and potentially right-wing WSPU leadership. It draws on the author's Merseyside research and other recent local studies of the WSPU to offer a reassessment of its links with the ILP and concludes that at branch level the WSPU remained a much broader political church than has hitherto been claimed.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Although the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) was founded by women who were also activists in the Independent Labour Party (ILP), early versions of its history, by participants, largely concurred that the two organizations drifted apart rapidly. They argued that the suffragette WSPU was then dominated by an increasingly middle-class leadership who eschewed socialism in favour of a rigidly-enforced political independence and were ultimately found favouring the right after the First World War. Recent local studies of the WSPU suggest a different picture at grass-roots level, where significant branch activists retained their loyalty to suffrage and socialism throughout the militant campaign. This article challenges the prevailing idea of a middle-class and potentially right-wing WSPU leadership. It draws on the author's Merseyside research and other recent local studies of the WSPU to offer a reassessment of its links with the ILP and concludes that at branch level the WSPU remained a much broader political church than has hitherto been claimed.
Keywords:Social history, History, Politics
Subjects:L Social studies > L290 Politics not elsewhere classified
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V145 Modern History 1900-1919
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V320 Social History
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Humanities
ID Code:679
Deposited By: Bev Jones
Deposited On:07 Sep 2007
Last Modified:28 Aug 2014 11:52

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