From the issue of The Vote come these reports of speeches given at a mass meeting in Trafalgar Square:
Mrs. Cobden Sanderson.
In the course of a well-reasoned speech, Mrs. Cobden-Sanderson said: We live in revolutionary times. The will of the people must prevail. The Portuguese Royal Family fell because it did not consider this. Berlin has also revolted, and the revolt there would have been more sanguinary had it not been for women, who placed themselves in the front — themselves and their children — and it takes much self-sacrifice to sacrifice your child. Here the women are also in revolt against the social and economical condition of things, for similar grievances prevail here to those which prevail in Tariff Reform Germany.
Mr. Lloyd George will be attacked more severely. Hitherto he has had some unpleasant moments; now we are going to attack his pocket. We are going to have our say in the spending of twelve millions on Dreadnoughts, and also on the reform of Poor Law system. I am a Poor Law guardian, but I am almost ashamed to own it, for I find the whole system of Poor Law administration is rotten to the core, and I work harder as such than in presenting petitions at Downing Street.
Our next move is to pay no taxes. It is the most direct and unanswerable method. If we are not good enough to vote, we are not good enough to pay. No vote, no tax. Those little income-tax forms, Form Ⅳ. or Ⅵ., or some other number, will be just thrown into the basket and not returned. Everyone who perhaps has not an income to be taxed can have a dog, and then refuse to pay tax.
We all at the bottom of our souls know that we want a betterment of affairs, and we women are going to try to alter things and improve conditions of men and women, and then the exports and imports will go up by leaps and bounds. There are starving women in this richest country in the world, and therefore we are going to revolt and make a revolution among the women, and the revolution is sure to succeed if we give our lives and time and money to bring it about.
Mrs. Ayres Purdie A.L.A.A.
Mrs. Purdie spoke about the disabilities and handicap of women in professions due to their lack of status. She was once the object of a Bill which, if it passed, would have made her liable to a fine of £10 and £1 per day thereafter so long as she continued practising her profession. It was absurd to suppose women were going to pay M.P.’s to pass Bills such as these. Women would never break down the barriers which kept them from advancing in the professions while they were denied representation.
Mrs. [Margarete Wynne] Nevinson.
Mrs. Nevinson… in the course of her speech said: The Conciliation Bill is a first instalment of justice, the first righteous thing that we accept and that we are willing to take. If anybody owed you £1,000, and said, “I cannot give the whole amount to you now, but will pay you £100 on account and the rest later on,” every wise person having anything to do with finance would say, “All right, I will take the £100 now and the rest as soon as you can let me have it.” Women are naturally becoming very indignant with the Budget, which has put Women’s Income Tax up to 1s. 2d. in the £. Before the war we only paid 6d. Women had nothing to do with the causes involving increased taxation, and yet we now have to pay 1s. 2d.
Here I have one of Mr. Lloyd George’s wonderful forms, with its numerous questions, to answer which intelligently I should require, apparently, the training of a lawyer and surveyor, and a fund of universal knowledge which I do not possess. I am asked to answer those questions, but am not considered fit to vote for a member of Parliament. This Form is addressed to me because I have a little freehold property, but it starts off with “Sir.” I am sending it back, pointing our that I must be addressed as “Madam,” and not “Sir,” and that as I have not vote, I do not see what this matter has to do with me. If you think of it, it is rather an insult to all women property holders to be addressed as “Sir,” and not by their proper title of courtesy. The State seems to take for granted that there can be no free women or women freeholders in the country, but that all the land must be owned by men.
No Vote, No Taxes.
The Women’s Freedom League for the last three years has preached and practised tax resistance as a protest against unenfranchisement. It is, therefore, very gratifying that the sister militant society has now decided, in the event of the Conciliation Bill not becoming law this session, also to adopt this form of protest. It is to be hoped that the Women’s Tax Resistance League will succeed in persuading all the other Suffrage Societies to unite on this logical policy of refusing supplies until our grievance is redressed.