28th July 1924
I am writing to express my regret that you are not in the House of Commons at this very serious moment in our nation’s history, and when there seems very few really live men there.
The Conservative Government is not as extreme as many people expected them to be, and some of the two older parties who are gullible may vote “Labour” at the next election as the result.
The special matter – which is of great danger to the best interests of the nation – is the Bill now being considered for giving votes to girls of 21 years of age and above. The rich and the “Middle Classes” have, on the average, much smaller families than the poorer, “Hand Labouring” classes, and therefore where the electorate will be increased by these girls’ votes the vast majority will be added to the “Labour” vote. It seems to me that the extra votes gained by the “Labour” party as a result may be sufficient to ensure the present Government’s return at the next election.
My reason for writing to you is that I believe you to be a real live man: and you may be able to point out to the leaders of the “Liberal” party the extreme importance of joining their votes to the “Conservative” party to prevent the Bill referred to above being passed into law.
I am, Sir, with apologies, your obedient Servant.
28th July 1924
I am taking the liberty of writing you to express my regret that you are not in the House of Commons at this very serious juncture (as I believe) in our nation’s history, and when there seems such a lack of really live men there.
Further, to ask whether you wouldn’t think it important that the leaders’ of the Liberal Party attention should be called to two very vital matters.
For set purpose and design, or otherwise, the present Government is not as extreme as a good many people expected them to be, and some people of the two older parties in the State who are easily “gulled” may vote “Labour” at the next election as the result of their seeming moderation.
The special matter – and to my thinking a far greater danger to the best interests of the nation – is the Bill now being considered for giving votes to girls of 21 years of age and above. Is it not a fact that the “Upper Ten” and the “Middle Classes” have, on the average, much smaller families than the “Hand Labouring” classes, and therefore where the electorate will be increased by these girls’ votes the vast majority – probably three will go to be added to the “Labour” vote to each one which is added to the “Liberal” and “Conservative” parties? It seems to me that the extra votes obtained by the “Labour” party as a result of the above two causes may be sufficient not only to ensure the present Government’s return at the next – and probably early – election but for a long time to come, when their “moderation” may be non-existent?
My special reason for writing you in this way is that if you won’t think me offensive and will pardon my saying so, in common with a great number of my countrymen, I believe you to be a real live man: and, in the next place, you may be able of all others to point out effectively to the leaders of the “Liberal” party the extreme importance of joining their votes to the “Conservative” party to prevent the Bill referred to above being passed into law.
I am, Sir, with apologies, your obedient Servant.
A letter from TH Deakin to Winston Churchill in July 1924. Deakin was a mining engineer, and Churchill was not in government.
Deakin expresses regret that Churchill was not in the House of Commons -at the time this letter was written, Churchill was not a Member of Parliament and he was also not part of the government. However, he was very much in the public eye, as he had recently (unsuccessfully) stood as an Independent candidate for Westminster and was working towards a return to Parliament. By early November 1924, Churchill had returned to the Conservative Party and also held one of the most senior government positions as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
After women over 30 got the vote in 1918, the previous campaigning groups disbanded, and in 1919 a new one formed: the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship. This group advocated equal status in voting, equal pay, and an end to discrimination in the work place. The anti-Establishment, progressive movement to get women the vote became closely linked to the Labour Party.
The British political system was no longer being dominated by two political Parties. For decades the Conservative Party and Liberal Party had fought each other for a majority in Parliament, but after 1903 there was the emergence of the Labour Party. The Labour Party appealed to working-class voters and trade unionists, and turned British politics into a 3-Party system.
Churchill was considered one of the chief critics of the Labour Party and their ‘socialist’ ideas; such as bringing greater equality. In the early 1920s, the Bolshevik Party in Russia had overcome conservative forces to emerge victorious from the Russian Civil War, and had established a revolutionary, socialist government. Part of the socialist movement involved removing aristocratic titles and redistributing wealth more equally. In part because of his social status and lineage (Churchill had been born in Blenheim Palace and had aristocratic ancestors), Churchill was considered to be one of the most prominent critics of socialism in the United Kingdom. Churchill and his supporters feared that the Communists in Russia, renamed the USSR in 1922, would inspire revolutionary ideas in Britain.
Remember we are hoping that this source can be useful to us in investigating whether the attitudes towards women changed after they secured the vote in 1918. Sources usually help historians in two ways:
Which of the inferences below can be made from this source?
|On a scale of 1-5 how far do you agree that this source supports this inference?||Which extract(s) from the source support your argument?|
|Deakin considered Churchill to care more about political success than equal rights.|
|Deakin thinks there are legitimate reasons that would make someone vote for the Labour Party.|
|Churchill carried a reputation as someone who could not be trusted.|
|Churchill had a reputation as someone who could get things done.|
|That Deakin feels the need to write such a letter is revealing about the women’s suffrage movement.|
|The source shows attitudes to women changed after they secured the vote in 1918.|
This source is very interesting for historians but we don’t actually know all the details. For instance, who was Deakin? We don’t know his background, although we can infer some things; such as he was not a Labour Party voter.
It is interesting to consider why Deakin chose to write to Churchill about this particular issue. Deakin is writing from Gloucestershire and styles himself as a mining engineer, which suggests he was from a different social group to Churchill. Does this suggest that Churchill had a reputation for being an upholder of conservative values? Or is it due to his reputation as a man who would do anything to stay in power? To support this view, Lady Soames, Churchill’s daughter, later recalled that, ‘Papa supported votes for women when he realised how many women would vote for him’.