‘It is only by removing the disabilities and restraints imposed upon woman and permitting her to enter freely into competition with man in every sphere of human activity that her true position and function in the economy of life will ultimately be settled’.
This is what Keir Hardie said in his 1905 speech ‘The Citizenship of Women: A Plea for Women’s Suffrage’.
Hardie was the first working-class man to be elected to Parliament – on a manifesto that said: ‘I ask you therefore to return to Parliament a man of yourselves who being poor can feel for the poor’.
He became the first leader of the Labour Party.
Hardie was a faithful and key ally of the suffragette movement and his support jeopardised his own standing in his party and beyond.
His frustration with his fellow men shines through in his speech: ‘To those who are opposed on principle to women having the vote at all I have little to say.
These I find it easier to pity than to reason with’.