Jeremy Corbyn: A Labour government would officially pardon the Suffragettes

Posted On: 
6th February 2018

A Labour government would offer an apology and an official pardon to the Suffragettes, Jeremy Corbyn has announced.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Shadow Cabinet wear rosettes to mark the 100th anniversary of some women being given the vote.
Credit: 
Labour Party.

The move was unanimously agreed at a meeting of the Shadow Cabinet on the 100th anniversay of the Representation of the People Act, which gave votes to some women for the first time.

More than 1,000 women were arrested, and many were imprisoned, during the long campaign for universal suffrage.

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Home Secretary Amber Rudd this morning refused to back calls for a posthumous pardon for those women who were prosecuted at the time.

But Mr Corbyn said if he becomes Prime Minister, he will act to make sure their criminal records are wiped from the history books.

"As a country, we must recognise and honour the enormous contribution and sacrifice made by women who campaigned for the right to vote," he said.

"Many of those women were treated appallingly by society and the state. Convictions of Suffragettes were politically-motivated and bore no relation to the acts committed. Some were severely mistreated and force-fed in prison post-conviction so a pardon could mean something to their families.

"Labour in government will both pardon the Suffragettes and give an official apology for the miscarriages of justice and wider persecution they suffered."

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has also backed calls for the women to be granted an official apology by the state.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph about her great-grandmother, she said: "Bessie Ritchie might have been over the age of 30 – the age of the new female franchise – but living in a Glasgow Corporation tenement, she was neither a woman of property nor did she possess a degree.

"She was prohibited on the grounds of class and wealth. Voting was a value judgment, not an intrinsic right. That inequality is one of the reasons why I support calls to offer a posthumous pardon to those suffragettes charged with righting that wrong."