The U.K. General Election is being held on 8 June 2017. This is a great opportunity for young people, in particular, to have their voices heard and to shape the future of this country. We want them to take this opportunity to go out and vote.
Everybody in this country is taught from infancy that the Suffragettes had to wrest votes for women from a brutal male establishment that was protecting the monopoly exercised by all men.
everybody is looking at history with one eye. As a matter of fact, men did have to fight before all men could get the vote. And men’s fight was not conducted in debating halls, demonstrations and salons, nor even from the relative safety of the prison cell. Before all British men were allowed to vote, poor young men had to be wounded in millions and to die in hundreds of thousands in a war from which all women were exempted solely by reason of their gender.
Military Service Act, under which every British man aged 18-41 was subject to conscription for the First World War. The actual wording of the Act was that every man of that age was “deemed to have enlisted”.
Without any voice in the matter, therefore, every adult male was, from that moment, subject to military law. If he didn’t go quietly (most did, of course) he could be forcibly removed from his home and transported to the front where, if he protested that he couldn’t see any sense in that insane conflict, he might be subjected to a cursory field court martial and executed by firing squad.
Guess what? Most of the propertyless, working-class men who then suffered in the mud and were blown to shreds in some of the most gruesome carnage in human history had no right to vote.
Before 1918, the vote was restricted not simply by sex but also by property qualifications. Please bear in mind, Black Americans got the right to vote when the Republicans passed the 15th Amendment on February 3, 1870.
The 1918 Act is, rightly, most famous for having brought more than eight million women into the electorate; but, for the first time, it also enfranchised more than five million men over the age of 21 without regard to property or class.
It is also true that, as a whole, that complete story does credit both to Britain and to men whose memory deserves our continuing honour, compassion and respect.
Not voting is the same as letting others decide for you what happens to the country.