Saturday, 11 July 2009

Women Died for the Right to Make their Own Decision

Featured on Iain Dale's Daley Dozen
Admittedly when he was doing his fantasy Liberal Cabinet meme Irfan Ahmed said he didn't know a lot about history, so sadly yet again this morning we see a need to educate him a little about this. He writes:

'Many women don’t have a clue about politics so they need someone to make their decisions for them and for that reason its OK for the man to decide who the women votes or is it? I don’t see anything wrong with a man making the decision in the household to who everyone votes but then that is just me.'

Ouch! For a start many people of both genders don't have a clue about politics it is not restricted by gender, but we have allowed universal suffrage to both men and women on equal terms since 1928. Yet we don't ask people before they step into a ballot booth can they name all the leaders of the main parties (if we did we'd have even lower turnout). So that is not a valid reason to say it is alright for anyone not to vote, nor is it justifiable to hide the sexism or misogyny of his statement above. It does suggest he himself doesn't have a clue about certain aspects of life.

However, Irfan may be interested to know that that great Liberal mind John Stuart Mill was one of the early male advocates for women to have the right to cast their own vote back as far as 1865 when he presented just such a platform to the electorate.

Women hassled Asquith and Lloyd George in the streets of Westminster in the early part of last century after the women on New Zealand were given the right to vote in 1893. The chained themselves to railings, set fire to mail boxes, set off bombs on occasions, were imprisoned for their direct actions, went on hunger strike. In 1913 on Epson Downs Emily Davison even threw herself bodily and fatally in front of the King's horse Anmer as it ran in the Derby.

It took almost 60 years from when the movement started for women to get equality with men and their own voice at the ballot box. It is not a right they should give away to a husband of father to tell them how to cast it.

Irfan if you really want to describe yourself as a 'political commentator' you really are going to have to learn a little about the political, governmental and social history of the politics and country you are commentating on. Otherwise a lot of what you say is just shallow, ill-informed vitriol.


  1. Stephen,

    I have read your blog post and I agree that women did fight hard to get a vote but what about the apathy in todays society.

    If a women wants to vote the way her husband is voting and doesn't want to look at what the other parties are offering then I think we should say fair enough.

    But if a women wants to vote her own way then I think its great because at the end of the day its her vote!

  2. Actually Irfan you said that many women don't have a clue about politics ignoring the fact that many men don't also. You issued a sexist statement.

    Another history lesson before we had a secret ballot, if you were lucky enough to have a vote, it is quite possible that the local landowner would stand over you as you placed you vote to make sure just how you voted.

    The Liberals did away with this sort of intimidation over voters, just as they expanded the franchise to women at least partially in 1918, so that another part of the electorate had their own say which wasn't bound by their husband.

    Women have the right to think for themselves. In many cases they have more intelligence and even more understanding of politics than their husband. Indeed women are more prone to change their vote depending on who they think is the best rather on traditional, inheritied voting patterns.

    You post is actually shameful after all the progress in electoral reform than Lib Dems and our predecessor parties have brought to bear down the centuries.

  3. The LibDems I see, are the old Liberal Party. I seem to remember that they have been out of power for the best part of a century.

    Astonishingly Electoral Reform took place in all of the democracies even without the input of the Liberals. This shows that it is a natural evolutionary process in politics.