ABSTRACT

During the last two weeks of September 1905 Christabel lectured in the Durham district, one of her topics being ‘The Unemployed Act’. 1 She then returned to Manchester to resume her legal studies. Feeling that the WSPU was ‘making no headway … our work was not counting’, 2 and aware of the results of the recent unemployed ‘riot’ and of the tactics used by the ILP during the fight for the use of Boggart Hole Clough, Christabel now developed a plan. On 15 October, the Liberal Party, generally expected to be voted into office shortly, was to hold a major meeting in the Free Trade Hall at which Grey and Churchill would speak. She and Annie Kenney would attend the meeting, and would attempt to question the men on the platform regarding the future Liberal Government’s willingness to enfranchise women. (Christabel, mindful of the chronic inefficacy of private members’ suffrage Bills, was coming to believe that only a government measure was likely to bring women the vote.) 3 The questions would not, of course, be answered in the affirmative. After refusal, she and Annie would take steps to create a disturbance sufficient to get themselves arrested. Later, in court, they would refuse to pay fines, and the resulting brief imprisonment would create a cornucopia of publicity for the cause of women’s enfranchisement. Martyrdom, deliberately sought after, would, if the deliberation were not revealed, make women’s suffrage newsworthy. 4