Monday, 6 April 2009

The Birkdale Liberal Ladies October 10th 1900

The Liberal History group have just published the latest edition of their journal focussing on Women in the Liberal party. One pioneer they missed was Birkdale's own Kate Riley

Whilst sat in the Southport Reference Library on Saturday morning hastily trying to get a better copy of the cartoons that appear below my eye was caught by the following article. It appeared in the Southport Guardian on October 10th 1900(It seems that the Southport Guardian was no better at spelling than its namesake in Manchester according to them the 1oth was a 'Wednesdaay'.

The Birkdale Liberal Ladies


Support Sir George Pilkington

On Monday a crowded meeting was held principally attended by
Liberal Ladies of the Birkdale district. Miss
Kate Riley presided

Miss Riley in opening the proceedings said that they were very
sorry that they were not all electors there that night; but that this was a women's meeting, and although women had not the power to vote for any candidate whatever they nethertheless could exercise great influence. They were called together at that meeting and it was hoped that they would give all
the help they could to return their old friend Sir George Pilkington to Parliament.
The women had to remember that while Sir George had been in Parliament he had been one of those in favour of increasing the abilities and freedoms of women.
He had been all they could desire, and so they hoped to send him again to St Stephen's....

(There now follows a lengthy bit about temperance on the
slippery nature of Balfour.... she then turns to the War)

It has been one of the most iniquitous wars and would cause an
increase of 4d on income tax and had caused an increase on duty upon almost every commodity since the war began; and that was nothing to the blood that had been lost. There was one man who had gained by the War and that was Mr Joseph
Chamberlain. It was a disgraceful thing that he had been concerned in Admiralty contracts(applause) and his son Mr Austen Chamberlain had benefited largely by the South African War that has been imposed upon the country and Mrs Joseph
Chamberlain had shares in the firms that supplied the lyddite and cordite and other ammunitions used in the war; and these reasons had made Mr Chamberlain anxious to carry on
the war. She thought that people of England should think before they entrusted the government of the country to a shopkeeper of this sort.

They had been called together in order that the women of the neighbourhood should propose and second a resolution that Sir George was a fit and proper person to represent Southport.
And so it goes on in robust fashion. Kate Riley's attack on Chamberlain was similar to those made by Lloyd George and other radicals and was someway more vigorous than the parliamentary leadership.

The Boer War has much in common with Vietnam, Suez and Iraq in so much as it was pursued in the teeth of widespread unease/hostility at home. After his victory was announced at the Election Lloyd George rounded on the Tories saying that 'they were drunk with blood'. Now I wonder how that would play out with the Tories today?