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A LABOUR government would officially apologise and pardon the suffragettes for the miscarriages of justice they suffered in fighting for women’s right to vote, Jeremy Corbyn has vowed.
The shadow cabinet agreed to plans for a royal pardon in the Museum of London today on the centenary of the Representation of the People Act which extended the right to vote to property-owning women over 30. The right was granted to all women over the age of 21 a decade later.
The museum is hosting a year-long exhibition dedicated to the campaign for votes for women.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said she will look at calls to pardon suffragettes but suggested it would be complicated.
Labour is launching a 12-month campaign to celebrate women’s suffrage and to work on plans to end the current “grotesque levels of inequality” in society.
Labour leader Mr Corbyn said: “As a country, we must recognise and honour the enormous contribution and sacrifice made by women who campaigned for the right to vote.
“Many of those women were treated appallingly by society and the state. Convictions of suffragettes were politically motivated and bore no relation to the acts committed.
“Some were severely mistreated and force-fed in prison post-conviction, so a pardon could mean something to their families.
“Labour in government will both pardon the suffragettes and give an official apology for the miscarriages of justice and wider persecution they suffered.”
Sam Smethers, chief executive of gender-equality charity the Fawcett Society, welcomed Labour’s announcement. She said: “Suffragette activism was for a noble cause and many of them became political prisoners.
“It would be a fitting tribute to pardon them now. They made such sacrifices so that we could all enjoy the rights we have today. In any meaningful sense of the word, they were not criminals.”
Prime Minister Theresa May set out plans in Manchester to counter online “bitterness and aggression,” which she said is deterring many, mainly women, LGBT people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds, from engaging in political debate.
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