Friday, 7 January 2011

All the King's Horses... Emily Davison Blues



Warning: this video has music which you might wish to mute and shows a scene of a shocking nature.

I have been neglecting blogging and have so much to catch up with, the demise of the terrible RMJM Gazprom Tower in St Petersburg and the scrapping of Pathfinder mass demolitions in England included.

Too much to do too little time. So a brief post on fighting for good causes and ways of doing it.

Yes the TV news has been full of 'rioting students' and shock horror about a cracked Royal window on a Rolls Royce; I think the real truth about the 2010 student fees demonstrations and the way they were handled in the media is now emerging so I won't go there in depth.  They did, however, involve a police charge of horses into demonstrators 'kettled' in Parliament Square, only one of the many strange ways in which demonstrators were treated. Let's not forget, amongst all the media coverage of 'rioting students' and inaccurate claims by Cameron the majority of those protesting were doing so lawfully and relatively peacefully.




As for the much -hyped attack on the horseless carriage containing the Prince of Wales & his wife, here's Laurie Penny @PennyRed  on that subject in the Guardian yesterday:

A hypocritical frenzy over the Camilla 'attack'

The real violence against protesters such as Alfie Meadows is apparently nothing next to Camilla's light poke in the ribs

While children are having their heads broken outside the seat of government, moral knicker-wetting over the Duchess of Cornwall getting a light poke in the ribs is pure hypocrisy. After CCTV footage of protesters attacking a defenceless Rolls Royce at the tuition fees demonstration was released this week, conservative commentators have exercised themselves to the point of frenzy over the "violence" of the scene, forgetting that the royals in the Roller weren't hurt, merely inconvenienced.

Unlike Charles and Camilla, many young people really were brutalised at that protest, in Parliament Square by baton-wielding police. Among them, 20-year-old student Alfie Meadows was left with bleeding on his brain after receiving a baton blow on the head from an officer of the law, but his injury, unlike Camilla's gentle nudging, has not caused a national outcry.

Meadows nearly died on 9 December, but David Cameron has not condemned this assault as "shocking and regrettable", nor called for the police officers involved to face the consequences of their actions. That night, as a barely elected government approved the effective privatisation of the British university system, thousands of students and school pupils were kettled for hours in the freezing cold, some hospitalised with broken bones and head injuries after being charged by police horses.

Read on :

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/06/camilla-attack-protesters-alfie-meadows

So I thought I'd blog a reminder that so many fought in this country throughout centuries for 'ordinary' people to gain the right to vote; yet even when that became general for men, women were not considered as equal partners in this and were told not to bother their pretty little heads.

Did they stay at home with their embroidery? They did not. They formed together and campaigned for women's suffrage. They became the suffragettes.

Here's a potted history of the WSUP

By the end of the 19th century, two thirds of adult men could vote in parliamentary elections. Women, along with prisoners, those living in mental institutions and the poorest men, were not entitled to vote.

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/English/Learning/Learningonline/features/wc/world_city_5.htm

Did they campaign peacefully? No they did not. They organised and demonstrated and even damaged with the slogan 'Deeds Not Words' as the guiding principle. They were slapped in prison and force fed and generally made a bloody nuisance of themselves.  Yes there are those who say that all this wasn't what made a difference but really? Does scaring the metaphorical shit out of politicians not have some effect? I hope it does.

And so we come to Emily Wilding Davison, see video above, who gave her life for The Gude Cause*. Whether she intended to simply stop the king's horse or her intention was to sacrifice her life we will never really know, although certain evidence points in the direction of intending to gain publicity not die, but her heroism still brings a lump in the throat.

Her injuries were terrible; she lay in dreadful pain in hospital and eventually died from them.

She is buried in Morpeth Churchyard Northumberland, and her headstone  has 'Deeds Not words' inscribed on it.






http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/03/uk_politics_suffragette_struggle/html/4.stm

1913 Derby - Anmer and Emily Davison.  The caption on the newspaper report at the time says: 'A remarkable picture, showing Anmer rolling over [jockey Herbert] Jones and Emily Davison in the act of falling.'

The funeral was organised by the WSPU with  6000 women marchers, then brass bands played Chopin’s Funeral March. There was also a banner showing Joan of Arc, and three laurel wreaths placed on her coffin with the words “She died for Women”. One protester threw a brick at the coffin. The cortege moved on to King’s Cross Station and thence to Morpeth for burial in the family grave.

http://awalkinhistory.blogspot.com/2008/04/wednesday-2nd-april-2008.html

That's a link with architecture and history, an interesting walk round places in London connected with the suffragettes.

St. George, Bloomsbury. It was here that the funeral of Emily Davison was held on Saturday 14th June 1913. She was a famous suffragette who threw herself in front of the King’s horse, Anmer on 4th June 1913. The service was held here because the Reverend Baumgarten was the only person prepared to officiate at the service.



And this is today and it is Nick Clegg's birthday. Today students and other protestors with a different view of a future they want  than that of this government are converging on London to 'celebrate' his selling out of so many promises made before the election and his joining with the Tories to make the ConDem government. Chief amongst his betrayals is the scandalous reneging on the LibDem promise before the election that there would be no increase in tuition fees for higher education. It seems that even when we have universal suffrage, we cannot rely on those voted in to power to act with integrity and stand by pre-election promises.


Here is what the comments describe as 'a magisterial dissection' of the Browne Report on fees and the effect of cuts for higher education in the London Review of Books by Stefan Collini,  professor of English at Cambridge:

A brief quote to give the flavour

The scale of the report’s dismantling of the public character of higher education is breathtaking, and yet, from another point of view, scarcely surprising. Though described as ‘an independent review’, it was never likely to issue in a set of recommendations so out of tune with current government thinking that they would simply be ignored. The coalition is at the moment using the whipped-up frenzy about the deficit in the public finances as a cover for a recognisably ideological assault on all forms of public provision. There was little chance that this report would make proposals that were not congruent with the form given to this assault by the Comprehensive Spending Review. It has, as expected, proposed a huge reduction, amounting to de facto abolition, of the block grant for teaching (full details are awaited). Some representatives of British universities, appalled and terrified by the consequences of the massive cuts proposed in the spending review, appear to be pinning their hopes on Browne as the only way of getting any money into higher education. These are certainly desperate times, but perhaps the case for the proper public funding of universities should not be surrendered quite so readily. What has to be recognised is that the Browne Report is not some alternative, still less antidote, to the spending review: they go together as the two faces of a calculated attempt to reshape higher education in this country by subjecting it to ‘the discipline of the market’.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n21/stefan-collini/brownes-gamble

All of which brings me, in my usual circuitous fashion, to this memorable piece of individual protest, singer Grace Petrie, who stood outside Clegg's constituency office in Sheffield on 13th December and sang The Emily Davison Blues. I hope the potted history above helps put it into context.



Grace Petrie - Emily Davison Blues from Tim Morris on Vimeo.


Nick Clegg, who sold so many out who had hoped if elected the Lib Dems would stick by their pre-election promises, this blog and this song is for you on #cleggsbday. It's my own small one-woman protest; good luck to all carrying on the struggle in London this weekend.

Deeds not words; but I also think the pen can be mighty.


Nem

*http://en-gb.facebook.com/group.php?gid=43277112750&v=wall&viewas=0&ref=mf

3 comments:

Grace Petrie said...

Thank you for sharing this, and for your inspiring words. Nice to know so many agree. Keep it burining.

Solidarity.

Nemesis said...

Thanks for your comment - I loved the song!

Solidarity

dwarflover63 said...

Whatever Miss Davison's intentions, she apparently gave no thought to the welfare of the horses and their rider's as she stepped out onto the racecourse. Racehorses and jockeys face enough dangers during races without a person interfering and causing a spill. I find it interesting that in all of the accounts I have read regarding the incident,and most are no longer then my own comment her, no word is given to the condition of Amner or Mr. Jones following the race. As a horse lover my sympathy is reserved for Amner. Miss Davison made her own choice that day and in my opinion accomplished no more than she could have by staging a peaceful protest outside the racecourse entrance.