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

By Jo Vellacott | Go to book overview

14 Pre-election Strains on the
NU's Nonparty Stance, January
to March 1914

Catherine's return to London in January 1914 was eagerly awaited and warmly welcomed by her closest co-workers. She quickly plunged in and was soon involved in a number of issues. As ever, her main job was the political work, and she began again to report to the NU executive as parliamentary secretary, although Alice Clark continued for a while to report on the EFF work. 1

There was tension among London NU suffragists at the beginning of 1914. A letter from Philippa Strachey, from about this time, suggests that Mrs Fawcett had confided that she was distressed by differences arising among supporters. Philippa's reply was in general and personal terms, warmly reassuring (it was fortunate that she could not see to the end of the year): "Internecine feuds are more hateful than can be said," she wrote, "and it is a great addition to their horror to think that you are being worried about them. I do not think though, that you need ever be afraid of any really grave scandals because we are all of us too deeply attached to the National Union in the abstract and to the President in the concrete." 2

The inevitable stress of entering yet another year in the long‐ drawn-out struggle, with the need to keep the pressure still escalating in a very uncertain climate, is in itself enough to explain and excuse some fraying at the seams of the would-be nonparty garment of the NU, stitched together as it was from diverse materials. The two particularly divisive issues of the time were the internal one of whether, and if so how, the London Society for Women's Suffrage should undergo reorganization, and the familiar external one of the

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