Annie Kenney

Extract from Special Branch report on suffragette meeting at Essex Hall, The Strand, London, 31 January 1913 (Catalogue ref:  HO 45/10695/231366)


Miss A. Kenney [–] opened her speech by referring to the Labour Conference, and made an attack on the Labour Party. Continuing she said, “They have not promised any more than what Mr. Balfour promised in 1907. We demand that the Labour Party shall vote against the Government, not on the Franchise Bill alone, but on every question that comes up in the House of Commons, until they have voted them out of Office. This is our campaign:– We have got to turn the Government out. At every street corner and place where we have public meeting we must instil into the minds of the public that unless the Government gives way, and bring in a Bill to enfranchise women, we must make everyone talk of turning the Government out. We have got to have it ringing in the minds of everyone in the country – Turn the Government out! Turn the Government out!

“What have we to do? We have got to fight on. I should like to see a sandwich board going all over London, and on the top marked, ‘Wanted some good window smashers’. That is what we want. You know that every woman ought never to go out without a hammer in her pocket, and never to go out, at least without touching one pillar box. You, who cannot break windows, for goodness sake get on with something else. Everyone can do a pillar box, for you must remember that that is the one thing that touches the pockets of the people. How do they know their letters are going to be destroyed? They don’t know when their pillar box is going to be attacked, therefore, it is the duty of every Suffragist and Suffragette to go on attacking every pillar box throughout the country, and breaking every window they can without being caught. What we have to do is, we have not to say ‘Oh, only 50 arrests’!, but, ‘thank goodness only 50 of them caught!, and here we are thousands of us. Don’t let us be too keen on getting arrested, but get off if we can, and do some more damage. It is no good women thinking of other people doing it. It is your duty, every woman in this audience not only to sympathise with militancy, it is your duty to create such a situation, that unless you all take your part in creating that situation, that situation will not be created. […]

Women of our union, ‘Let us make London absolutely unbearable for the average citizen, until the average citizen along with the shopkeepers will go on a deputation and fill Charing Cross to Palace Yard with people, to tell the Government that women shall have the vote at once. We can easily do it. Come out in numbers. So when you go home to-night think of what scheme you can do, and go and do it; lose no time, but get on with your business. It will have more effect on the men in the street than any public meeting you can hold. We have got to hold meetings, but the only thing you have got to be is militant! Militant! And more militant!!!’


Return to Suffragettes on file