Tomorrow is a huge day for the future of this country. Whatever your views and whichever candidate or party speaks to you, the most important thing is to get out there and vote.
Women voters are historically under-represented at the polls which bothers me greatly. 104 years ago tomorrow, on the 8th of June, the day we go to the polls, marks the death of a remarkable woman, Emily Wilding Davison, 4 days after sustaining fatal injuries by calmly standing in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby. This was the culmination of some years of being the sand in the gears, campaigning as part of the Women’s Sufferage movement to grant women the vote. State opening of parliament was disrupted, she set fires, she threw stones. She was arrested no fewer than 9 times, and was force fed 49 times in prison to bring about an end to her protestation via hunger-strike. While serving 6 months in Holloway she threw herself down a 10 mtr set of stairs, some say to detract attention away from other suffragettes and their harsh prison treatment. She sustained head and spinal injuries and lived in pain until her untimely death. She even concealed herself in a cupboard in the chapel of the Palace of Westminster overnight on the eve of the 1911 census so she could list her place of residence as the House of Commons! On the centenary of her death a little secret plaque was placed on the side of this cupboard by a group of MPs including Tony Benn & Jeremy Corbyn.
You have to love this woman. She didn’t experience the freedoms that we take for granted and yet she was defiant and determined and ultimately succeeded in achieving her goal, just sadly never lived to see it.
There is a difference of opinion on whether Emily was merely trying to fix a flag in Suffragette colours to the kings horse, or if she had more fatal intent on behalf of her cause. Only Emily can answer that.
Ladies, we owe her a great service. So tomorrow, for her, and for us, and for women around the world that still don’t have the access to democracy that Emily fought so hard for, go to the polling station and vote.
Emily’s gravestone in Northumberland is engraved with the WSPU slogan “Deeds not Words”
Tomorrow Emily, this one’s for you.