Emily W Davison, the cupboard & the census

SNP MP Hannah Bardell calls for respect to be shown to the Emily Wilding Davison memorial installed by the late Tony Benn MP.  

On the night of the 1911 UK Census, Emily Wilding Davison hid in a cupboard in a service area of the House of Commons so that she could record her address as the 'House of Commons'.

Emily was the suffragette who died in June 1913, a few days after being trampled by the King's horse at the Epsom Derby.

Tony Benn placed a memorial plaque on the cupboard used by Emily and the significance of the cupboard and memorial seems to be disregarded.


UK parliament artwork celebrates suffrage struggle

ABC News in the US reports on the unveiling of an artwork installed in the UK parliament to celebrate the struggle to obtain female suffrage:

The first abstract artwork created for permanent display in the 19th-century parliamentary complex, " New Dawn " was unveiled Tuesday on the 150th anniversary of the first mass petition to Parliament calling for women to have the right to vote. It would be more than 60 years before the goal was achieved, and artist Mary Branson wants her work to pay tribute to the thousands of people who fought for women's voting rights over the decades.
A few are well-known, especially the militant suffragettes who fought with protests, hunger strikes and even bombings. But Branson, who spent six months exploring Parliament's archives, said she was moved by "all the women that I'd never heard about, ordinary people like ourselves." "There were so many women coming in relentlessly day after day," she said. "Petitioning, protesting."
Branson calculated that almost 16,500 petitions featuring more than 3 million signatures calling for female suffrage were submitted to Parliament between 1866 and 1918, when women over 30 were granted the vote (full voting equality with men took another decade). "That said to me I needed to make something really big, and I needed to put it in a really powerful space," Branson said.
Branson found visual inspiration in Parliament's Act Room, where thousands of laws stretching back centuries are stored on parchment scrolls.
"New Dawn" consists of 168 circles of hand-blown glass inspired by the scrolls, mounted in a 4 meter-by-6 meter (13 foot-by-20 foot) ellipse. Branson said her glass scrolls are mounted atop a portcullis, an iron gate that is the traditional symbol of Parliament. In the artwork, the portcullis is open. "It's like women are here," Branson said. "We're in."


See also





An image of the Parliament's Act Room can be seen on this page:





150 years from first suffrage petition - 5050 now!

This article notes that it is 150 years since Millicent Fawcett presented the first suffrage petition to the UK parliament. It is now time for a 5050 parliament!

50:50 Parliament is a contemporary petition asking all the party leaders for solutions to right this wrong. The disparity in the Commons is bad but the House of Lords is even worse: the name says it all. If Parliament is inaccessible to the majority that are women it must be inaccessible to many others. It needs sorting!


Women in bronze outside, or women making up half the people inside? (and not in the cupboard downstairs)

A campaign in the UK has been launched to petition the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to commission and install a suffagette statue in Parliament Square. All eleven statutes currently in the Square are of men. The campaign was launched by Caroline Criado-Perez (who began the campaign to put Jane Austen's image on the new Ten-Pound note) Caroline writes:

The women who fought for our rights - the suffragettes - deserve to be commemorated in front of the building they were locked out of for centuries.

We wholeheartedly endorse the campaign to commemorate the suffragettes.

However, we are mindful of the symbolism of statuary that depicts women stuck outside the parliament.

We remember that Emily Wilding Davison, who threw herself under the King's horse, had hidden in a cupboard in the parliament building on the night of the 1911 Census so that she could enter her address as the parliament at Westminster.

We advocate a truly lasting memorial of legislating now to require equal gender representation in parliament.

The English MP, Tony Benn advocated that each electorate vote for and be represented by both a male and a female MP (which is the goal of democracy5050.com). He erected a few of his own memorials in Parliament House including a plaque in a broom cupboard in the crypt of the building. 

Tony Benn said in the House of Commons in 2001: 'I have put up several plaques—quite illegally, without permission; I screwed them up myself. One was in the broom cupboard to commemorate Emily Wilding Davison, and another celebrated the people who fought for democracy and those who run the House. If one walks around this place, one sees statues of people, not one of whom believed in democracy, votes for women or anything else. We have to be sure that we are a workshop and not a museum.'

The inscription on Benn's plaque in the cupboard in the crypt read:

In loving memory of Emily Wilding Davison

In this broom cupboard Emily Wilding Davison hid herself, illegally, during the night of the 1911 Census. 

She was a brave suffragette campaigning for votes for women at a time when Parliament denied them that right.

In this way she was able to record her address on the night of the census as being 'The House of Commons' thus making her claim to the same political rights as men. 

Emily Wilding Davison died in June 1913 from injuries sustained when she threw herself under the King's horse at the Derby to draw attention to the public injustice suffered by women. 

By such means was democracy won for the people of Britain.

Notice placed here by Tony Benn MP

'I must tell you, Mr. Speaker,  that I am going to put a plaque in the House, I shall have it made myself and screwed on the door of the brown cupboard in the Crypt.' 

Update 7 June 2016http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/campaign-for-suffragette-statue-in-parliament-square-stepped-up-11364066541880