From Liberal to Labour with Women's Suffrage: The Story of Catherine Marshall

By Jo Vellacott | Go to book overview

13 An All-Party Campaign:
Wooing Liberals, Unionists,
and Labour, September to
December 1913

The preelection climate became more and more palpable while Catherine was in the north in the autumn of 1913. Parliament was in recess from 15 August 1913 to 10 February 1914, with members back in their constituencies, many of them campaigning in all but name. Close attention was paid by the press, and no less by the NU, to the statements and speeches of party leaders, and indeed of all MPs. 1 Together with the lessons of the unsatisfactory meeting with the Liberal suffragist ministers, and its ironic juxtaposition with the cautious encouragement the NU women had felt in their meeting with Asquith, the covert preelection tension made up the background to Catherine's political activity while she was at Hawse End.

Keeping in close touch with the NU executive, Catherine made use of the change of pace and the enforced distancing from the day-by‐ day pressure of her political work in London to do what she could to influence the situation by a more leisured correspondence. She continued to believe — probably rightly — that the cause would take a great step forward if any political leader of distinction took it up with devotion, allowing his name to be associated with women's suffrage, inviting speakers to join him at public meetings and in his constituency, and giving it prominence in his public speaking. The meeting with the so-called suffragist ministers had shown how far down the agenda of most politicians was the question of women's suffrage, but the women were determined to change that, and the election was going to be crucial. Catherine continued to build her one-to-one bridges, and meanwhile the local NU organizations were

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