100 years since women got the vote: would we fight for it now in our Darkest Hour?
- Credit: Archant
It’s 100 years since women got the vote. But would we fight for it now? Liz Nice found The Darkest Hour a reminder of times when we still cared enough to fight for our rights #Suffrage100.
Can it really be true that Doritos are planning to create ‘ladies’ crisps which are quieter to eat and less messy?
The story was all over the national papers yesterday, yet in this era of fake news I had that familiar sense that it must be April Fool’s Day again.
As today is the 100 year anniversary of when women first got the vote, it would be strange for PepsiCo, which owns Doritos, to express such an anachronistic sentiment.
The idea of what is appropriate behaviour for ‘young ladies’ takes me back to the days when my mother told me I ought to sit with my legs crossed, resist the urge to share with people every feeling that ever crossed my heart and never eat chips in public.
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By those standards, I am no lady.
But that has been said before.
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Today seems a good day to consider whether being ‘ladylike’ still carries any currency, although as my other half pointed out, the Representation of the People Act 100 years ago, which gave women over 30 the vote (as long as they met the property qualification), also gave the vote to all men over 21 for the first time, so what we are really celebrating today is men getting the vote and women getting a lesser deal.
February 6 1918 was still a great moment for the advancement of democracy however and in an age when our right to vote increasingly feels like a moot point, we do well to reflect on the days when people cared passionately about such things, rather than today’s malaise in which most people seem to feel politics and what goes on in the world has nothing to do with them, preferring instead to obsess over the minutae on social media of what their friends are having for their dinner.
How well this serves our leaders!
How poorly we serve ourselves.
Last night I went to see The Darkest Hour, the film about the events leading up to Dunkirk, and, aside from Gary Oldman’s extraordinary portrayal of Churchill, two things struck me.
Firstly, Churchill’s war cabinet was full of people who strongly disagreed with him; something our politicians today really seem to struggle with. Arguably, it was the vehemence of Chamberlain and Halifax’s desire for peace that drove Churchill to his greatest moment, yet today’s leaders seem to surround themselves with ‘yes’ people, with lukewarm policies and voter responses the result.
Secondly, when Churchill finally came out of the Westminster cloister and went and spoke to the people about what he ought to do, they all had an opinion. They all cared.
Surrender to Hitler? Make peace with the Devil?
‘NEVER!’ they said.
I found myself wondering if Churchill appeared on the Tube today to ask the opinion of the people, whether anyone wouldl even know who he was.
“What should you do about Hitler?” they’d say, scrolling through their phones as a meme of a cat dancing popped into view.
“No idea, mate. Some bloke in Germany, you say? What on earth has that got to do with me?”