History Shows Tragic Consequences of Ignoring Writing on the Wall for Bahrain

The Evening Standard (London, England), April 12, 2012 | Go to article overview

History Shows Tragic Consequences of Ignoring Writing on the Wall for Bahrain


Byline: Dan Jones

[bar] N June 4 1913, Herbert 'Diamond' Jones mounted a colt named Anmer and lined up at the start of the Epsom Derby. Jones -- a small, natty man of 32 with a long nose, broad forehead and somewhat melancholy eyes -- was wearing royal colours. Anmer was not well-backed but he was the King's horse and Jones was expected to ride well in front of his patron, George V, and Queen Mary.

The race began. Minutes later, Jones was rounding Tattenham Corner, some way off the leaders, when a figure stepped out from the watching crowd, shouted something indecipherable above the thunder of hooves, and grabbed at Anmer's reins.

The horse went flying, throwing Jones and performing a full somersault due to the force of the collision. Jones was left crumpled on the turf, suffering from concussion and bad bruising to the arm and chest. His assailant, Emily Wilding Davison, was more severely injured. She fractured her skull and died four days later in hospital.

It is Davison, not Jones (or Anmer), whom we remember today. A suffragette with a death wish, the woman who jumped in front of the King's horse had been imprisoned numerous times for protesting -- sometimes violently -- in favour of women's emancipation.

Brutalised by force-feeding during her hunger strikes in prison, Davison lived by the phrase "rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God," and once wrote (after throwing herself down the stairs in Holloway jail),"I felt that by nothing but the sacrifice of human life would the nation be brought to realise the horrible torture our women face."

Davison's protest helped earn the vote for British women, so today she is a martyr to liberal democratic freedom, whereas at the time she struck many people as a dangerous terrorist. But Jones was said never to have recovered from the haunting sight of the suffragette beneath Anmer's hooves. He rode on for a decade before retiring with a lung infection in 1923. In 1951 he went mad and gassed himself with his oven.

I thought of all this on Saturday, when Trenton Oldfield jumped into the Thames to disrupt the Boat Race. Oldfield -- a pathetic, illiterate nit and a physical coward with about as sophisticated a political philosophy as Dennis Pennis -- had nothing on Davison either in terms of personal courage or the nobility of his aims. …

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History Shows Tragic Consequences of Ignoring Writing on the Wall for Bahrain
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