June 8th Election Day...Remembering Emily Davidson, 8th June 1913
Emily Davison (1872 - 1913)
Davison was a militant suffragette who died after throwing herself in front of the king's horse (whilst trying to pin a Suffragette Rosette to it) at the Epsom Derby.
Emily Wilding Davison was born in Blackheath in southeast London on 11 October 1872. She studied at Royal Holloway College and at Oxford University, although women were not allowed to take degrees at that time.
In 1906, she joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), founded by Emmeline Pankhurst. Three years later she gave up her job as a teacher and went to work full-time for the suffragette movement. She was frequently arrested for acts ranging from causing a public disturbance to burning post boxes and spent a number of short periods in jail.
In 1909, she was sentenced to a month's hard labour in Strangeways Prison in Manchester after throwing rocks at the carriage of chancellor David Lloyd George. She attempted to starve herself, and resisted force-feeding. A prison guard, angered by Davison's blockading herself in her cell, forced a hose into the room and nearly filled it with water. Eventually, however, the door was broken down, and she was freed. She subsequently sued the wardens of Strangeways, and was awarded 40 shillings.
By 1911, Davison was becoming increasingly militant .On 4 June 1913, she ran out in front of the king's horse as it was taking part in the Epsom Derby. Her purpose was unclear, but she was trampled on and died on 8 June from her injuries. Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/davison_emily.shtm
This plaque to Emily Wilding Davison was put up in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft by Tony Benn MP.
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.'
I just voted...poignant, for many reasons not least because since before both my children could walk I have always taken them with me when I voted....My oldest now takes her daughter (my grandaughter) and today marked the very last time that my youngest daughter would come with me as part of that tradition. The next time we get the opportunity to vote she will be nearly 20 or 21 years old...more than old enough to make her own arrangements....I just hope that when she does there will be something worth voting for!
As I walk towards the Polling Station to cast my vote in the 2017 General Election I am also acutely aware of the sacrifices which women like Emily made and the footsteps in which I tred.