25th June 1908

Suffragists interrupt Churchill in Dundee

Winston Churchill flip-flopped between two parties through his political career. Between 1900 and 1904, and again between 1924 and 1964, he was a member of the Conservative Party. However, he was a Liberal in the interim, during which he represented one of two seats in the constituency of Dundee. The second seat was held by Labour’s Alexander Wilkie.

Churchill had been parachuted into Dundee for the 1908 by-election after he had lost his seat in Manchester North West, which he’d been obliged to contest after being awarded a seat in the Cabinet.

Vacant seat in Dundee

The Dundee seat had become vacant when then-sitting MP Edmund Robertson, also a Liberal, became the first Baron Lochee, and Churchill managed to improve on his vote share, increasing it from 31.7% at the 1906 General Election to 44% at the 1908 by-election.

The Scottish Prohibition Party, represented by Edwin Scrymgeour, polled just 4.1% of the vote, but would eventually triumph, winning Churchill’s seat at the 1922 General Election.

Churchill interrupted

On 25 June, shortly after his 1908 by-election win, Churchill visited his new constituency and addressed a public meeting. It was not without incident. The following day, the Halifax Evening Courier reported that he “was several times interrupted by suffragists. Great excitement and commotion prevailed consequent upon stewards rather roughly ejecting some half-a-dozen disturbers.”

That same day’s Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette gave further details, explaining that it had been Churchill’s first visit to the constituency since his election, and that he’d addressed two meetings. “At the first, exclusively for women, he was subjected to much interruption by suffragists, whose antics he described as pantomimic.”

Churchill opposed women’s right to vote

Certainly in his younger years, Churchill was not a supporter of giving women the right to vote. In Churchill: Walking with Destiny, Andrew Roberts writes that Churchill argued, “‘only the most undesirable class of women are eager for the right [to vote]’ and that ‘those women who discharge their duty to the state viz. marrying and giving birth to children, are adequately represented by their husbands’, therefore ‘I shall unswervingly oppose this ridiculous movement.’”



Other events that occured in June

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