Suffragists Rally at Tax Auction of Winifred Patch’s Property

The Vote

From the issue of The Vote:

Tax-Resistance Meeting at Highbury.

A protest meeting was held at Highbury Corner on , as a result of the sale of Dr. [Winifred S.] Patch’s goods last week, owing to her refusal to pay taxes. Miss Guttridge was in the chair, and there was a good attendance. The speakers were Mrs. [Charlotte] Despard and Mr. Laurence Housman. Mrs. Despard, in the course of her speech, said that the Woman Suffragists were going to adopt measures of coercion towards the Government. They were going to “stop the traffic.” Mr. Laurence Houseman took up the phrase. He said, “Stop the traffic, and you have found the solution of the situation. Bad government makes government expensive.” He spoke of the spirit of liberty which is latent in every human being — the spirit of liberty which is always roused to its fullest force under tyrannical oppression. That spirit was awake in the women who are fighting for the Franchise to-day. He thought that most of the men of this country did not realise the spirit of that fight because they had come by their own votes too easily. They had practically been born to the Vote. They had come into it too long after their fathers’ fight for it to feel its true basis of liberty. He remarked that wherever Mrs. Despard went to-day the Government became an object of ridicule. She ought to be in prison, as she had refused to pay the Imperial taxes, but they were afraid to put her there — (laughter and cheers) — and she would not go to prison because she was more logical than the Government. If they gave her representation she would agree to taxation — the two must go together. It was disgraceful in a democratic country that women like Mrs. Despard, who have done noble work for the community in general, should be shut out from the Parliamentary administration of the people’s interests.