Category Archives: Suffragettes

10 Speeches Every Radical Should Know

By Tom Bailey @tombaileyblog

The power of a speech is very often overlooked. Indeed, rhetorical skill and oratorical eloquence are often seen as instruments of deception rather than sources of inspiration. And yet, there is surely something in a good speech that can motivate us like nothing else – speeches, just like any art form, can enthuse us with passion and hope and they can help us to channel those emotions towards action.

So that’s why we thought it was important to collect some of the most radical speeches ever made, so that you too can share in the powerful emotions stirred up by a great speech. We’ve put them in Chronological order, and the collection of ten speeches spans from the 14th Century to the late 20th! Of course, these men and women had flaws, but this doesn’t mean that their speeches aren’t inspirational or moving – indeed, in every speech, there is surely something we can learn.

1. All Men By Nature Were Created Alike – John Ball

In May 1381, Wycliffite priest John Ball addressed a group of rebelling labourers who would later take part in the so-called Peasant’s Revolt – a revolt that was partly caused by the introduction of the 1380 poll tax.

In his great speech, Ball argued that “all men by nature were created alike” and that the servitude of agricultural workers constituted what he called an “unjust oppression”. He believed in the equality of all people, and this conviction is clear from his address.

He urged the serfs to “cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty”. They should fight for “equality in liberty” and battle against degrees of nobility and class. It is these words that are often cited as the inspiration for the June 1381 revolt led by Wat Tyler.

Now these ideas may sound pretty normal to most of us 21st Century readers – Ball, you might think, just sounds like your average left-winger. But this speech was written over 630 years ago, when it was considered dangerous to even think this sort of thing, let alone preach it. That’s why this speech is so important.

Sadly, both Ball and Tyler were executed as traitors for their egalitarian views. They were killed because their proto-socialist and progressive beliefs were seen as a threat to the established order of society. Still, their actions and their words live on. Continue reading

On The Importance of Voting

The following post is a guest post by Tom Bailey, an 18-year-old literary and political blogger. He writes on a variety of topics from music to politics on his own blog, where he also publishes his poems. His Twitter handle is @TomBaileyBlog

This Thursday, on the 23rd of June, millions of people will be going to polling stations throughout the UK in order to cast their vote. The people of the UK will be deciding whether we should remain in, or leave, the European Union, a decision that will have a drastic influence over the future of our country. It will affect every one of our lives, and it will determine the role the United Kingdom plays in the world for decades to come.

The chance to vote is not something we should take lightly, not only because of the power each of us holds in our own hands, but also because the right to vote is something we should all treasure. When we cast our votes on Thursday, we should remember that in 1780, only 3% of the population of England and Wales could vote. That 3% was, of course, made up of wealthy white males who thought they and they alone should decide the future of their country.

We should also remember that there are still many people throughout the world who are denied the right to vote or whose votes simply don’t count. Even though universal suffrage is a key element of our democracy, we are still lucky to have it. In countries like North Korea, Zimbabwe, Syria, and China, citizens have little or no say in how their countries are run. To many people throughout the world, the idea that a government would hold a referendum seems an idealistic dream for the distant future. We, in the UK, are living that dream of democracy.

But we shouldn’t just feel fortunate that we have this right to democratically choose our governments. We should also feel grateful. Now, I’m not saying we should be thanking politicians or the establishment or the monarchy for granting us this right to vote. After all, the right of universal suffrage was not given to the citizens of the UK out of good will or kindness from benevolent bureaucrats. It was fought for.

Peterloo Massacre tea towel

The fight for democracy at Peterloo in 1819

Continue reading

Informative & inspiring: a review of Suffragette

Ninety-seven years after women were given the vote in England, Focus Features released Suffragette, a British historical drama commemorating the achievements of the Women’s Suffrage movement. Starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne-Marie Duff, Suffragette skilfully captures the bravery and fortitude of these noble women.

The film focuses on the experiences of Maud Watts (played by Mulligan), a fictional composite of many working class women fighting for equality. Maud works in the Bethnal Green Laundry and, like many working women of the time, is treated terribly by her boss, who sexually abuses women who work for him.

Throughout the film Maud comes to realise the inherent injustices of society as she grows more and more involved with the suffrage movement, to the anger and distaste of her family and community.

The film demonstrates the incredible struggle that suffragettes experienced, from hunger strikes and police violence to arrests and complete ostracization. It also reveals the stigma that was, for a long time, bizarrely attached to the belief that women should have equality with their male counterparts. Continue reading

Women Who Made a Difference

The history of the women’s suffrage movement is a perfect match for our radical and historical interests here at the Radical Tea Towel Company. No wonder we have several designs inspired by the movement on our products – here we explain the background.

Our suffragette ‘Women’s March’ design was inspired by Margaret Morris’s cover for the song sheet of ‘The March of the Women’, the anthem of the women’s suffrage movement in Britain. It was composed in 1910 by Ethel Smyth with words by Cicely Hamilton. Smyth dedicated the song to the Women’s Social and Political Union. In January 1911, the WSPU’s newspaper, ‘Votes for Women’, described the song as “at once a hymn and a call to battle.”  Like most things in life, you can listen to a recording on YouTube!

Suffragette Tea Towel Continue reading

The UKIP Christmas Party – and Other Progressive Causes of the Year

Have you been invited? The invitation looks something like this:

UKIP Christmas Card

 

We can’t wait. And what great inspiration for our Christmas cards this year! In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the death of Emily Davison, and the new ‘Suffragette’ blockbuster filmed in 2014 (to be released on 16th January 2015), here’s another design with a more traditional suffragette theme:

Suffragette Christmas Card

 

Both of the above are already available on our website as part of this year’s radical Christmas card collection. Here are another two new designs for 2014, commemorating some progressive causes this year:

Calm Down Deer Christmas Card

 

Desmond Tutu Tolerance

 

We tip our hats to two important campaigns this year – ‘No More Page 3‘ and the fight against homophobia in Uganda and around the world. We’ve no doubt missed a few important ones, but couldn’t think of any that could easily translate into Christmas card designs. Any ideas?

Suffragette: The Movie!

A new period film, Suffragette, which charts the campaign for women’s votes in Britain, is to hit our our screens in January 2015.

Suffragette Movie

As well as dramatising history, the film is making it, as it is the first to use the Houses of Parliament as a set for a commercial film, 25 years after TV cameras were allowed in for the first time. Suffragette stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Romola Garai and multi-Oscar-winner Meryl Streep as one of the movement’s leaders, Emmeline Pankhurst. Scenes were shot both outside and inside the building, including the central lobby and one of the committee rooms. You can see some of the filming under way in Parliament in this BBC report. Continue reading