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15 December 2015updated 20 Aug 2021 9:20am

The Returning Officer: Suffragettes VII

“We beseech thee, O Lord, on behalf of Emmeline Pankhurst, Helen Crawfurd and all the brave women suffering for their faith. Amen.”

By Stephen Brasher

Helen Crawfurd stood for the Communist Party in Bothwell (1929) and Aberdeen North (1931), where she was adopted at a meeting in which the chair stated that it was “better to split the workers’ vote than to be represented in parliament by Mr Wedgwood Benn, who had not the interests of the workers at heart”. In 1913, Crawfurd was sent to prison for breaking the windows of an army recruiting office in Glasgow and refusing to pay the fine. She went on hunger strike.

The following weekend, suffragettes arranged for a special prayer to be said at St Mary’s Cathedral. When this was not delivered as requested, a dozen stood up and chanted: “We beseech thee, O Lord, on behalf of Emmeline Pankhurst, Helen Crawfurd and all the brave women suffering for their faith. Amen.”

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This article appears in the 09 Dec 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The clash of empires