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Lord Lexden reminds Conservatives that Mrs Pankhurst joined their Party in the 1920s

Wednesday, 8 August, 2012

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst, the famous leader of the women's suffragette movement, held strong left-wing opinions during most of her life. In the 1920s, however, she joined the Conservative Party and became one of its parliamentary candidates. Lord Lexden, the Party's official historian, recalled the last stage of her career as a Tory in a letter published in The Times on August 8.

Read the letter in full below:

Sir, Conservatives should feel deep regret that Emmeline Pankhurst’s grave and monument in Brompton Cemetery have fallen into disrepair (letter, Aug 4). In old age she formed a close association with Stanley Baldwin, a great progressive Conservative and supporter of women’s suffrage, joining his party in 1926. When in the following year he introduced the legislation that gave women the vote on the same terms as men, she put herself forward successfully for the Tory nomination in one of the three Stepney constituencies where she “worked with great energy and dedication”. She would undoubtedly have put Labour under great pressure at the 1929 general election, but, weakened by periods of imprisonment, she did not live to contest it.

Baldwin was given the honour of unveiling her statue beside Parliament. At my instigation a room in the Conservative Party’s new campaign headquarters was named in her memory in 2005. The party should play a prominent part in raising funds to restore her place of burial.

Lord Lexden
House of Lords