N. Zalietok, O. Hurzhii, N. Buglay Winston Churchill and the Suffrage Movement

DOI: 10.20535/2307-5244.50.2020.210124

Ukrainian Research Institute of Archival Affairs and Records Keeping (Kyiv)

Institute of History of Ukraine NAS of Ukraine (Kyiv)

V. O. Sukhomlynskyi Mykolaiv National University (Mykolaiv)

In the professional literature and reference books, one can find the statement that W. Churchill was the biggest confronter of women’s emancipation quite often. However, while trying to find confirmation, it becomes obvious that this statement is biased, because the politician’s position regarding the problem has been constantly evolving. In this regard, the aim of this paper is to find out W. Churchillʼs real attitude to women’s enfranchisement, as well as the impact of his political activities on the implementation of this legislative innovation in Great Britain. The research methodology is based on the principles of historicism and interdisciplinarity. In the course of the research, the general scientific (analysis and synthesis, induction and deduction, generalization) and specially-historical (critical analysis of sources, retrospective, historical-comparative) methods were applied, as well as gender approach.

The article covers the evolution of Winston Churchill’s views on British women’s enfranchisement. The attention is focused on the relationship between the politician and activists of the radical wing of the suffrage movement and its links with Churchill’s position on women’s suffrage. Among other things, the events in the Free Trade Hall (1905), a cause for the confrontation between Churchill and the suffragette D. Molony, the events in Bristol (November 1909), the course of events on the so-called «Black Friday» and the «Battle of Downing Street» (November 1910), relations with pacifists during the First World War were analyzed and discussed. His position during the voting for the «Representation of the People Act» (1918) and the «Representation of the People Act (Equal Franchise)» (1928) was clarified. In addition, the in-depth analysis of the activities of the politician while holding public office (in particular, the Minister of Labor, the Minister of Internal Affairs, and the First Lord of the Admiralty) was carried out in the context of the women’s movement.

Based on the analysis of the sources and literature, the authors of this paper conclude that W. Churchill was involved in difficult relationships with radical representatives of the suffrage movement, and the politician often was a target in their provocative campaigns because of his inconsistent position regarding women’s enfranchisement and attempts to manipulate the subject depending on the situation. Generally, it can be stated that Churchill was rather sceptical about the women’s suffrage. He did not reject the idea completely, but he really supported only a very limited change that affected a small number of women.

Keywords: Winston Churchill, feminism, suffrage, politics, Great Britain, England, voting rights, elections.


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