Women at Westminster and around the constituency have made a difference

Emily Wilding Davison was a teacher in Worthing. She is known for her activities as a suffragette. She died at the Epsom Derby.

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing
Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing

The online encyclopaedia and other sources record that she worked briefly at a church school in Edgbaston between 1895 and 1896, but found it difficult and moved to Seabury, a private school in (West) Worthing, where she was more settled. She left the town in 1898 and became a private tutor and governess to a family in Northamptonshire. Returning to university education, she graduated from the University of London with a first class honours degree in English Language and Literature.

Famously, she objected to being recorded in the 1911 Census. To avoid being enumerated, she hid in the broom cupboard behind the Undercroft chapel by the Great Hall of Westminster. She was detected and listed in the Census as though she had been a resident, although her name had been placed on the list of people to be expelled because she broke windows in the Palace.

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Within seven years of her death, women could be elected to the Commons. There are two good books to read. This week, in the centenary year, the Labour MP Rachel Reeves launches Women Of Westminster – the MPs Who Changed Politics. The foreword by Professor Mary Beard mentions the influential Independent MP Eleanor Rathbone who was driven by the motto that if something needed to be done, it could be done.

| Also in the news - a driver who attempted to out-run police after crashing into two cars in Worthing has been convicted of multiple motoring offences; a giant observation wheel on Worthing’s seafront has been given permission for the next three years; and a man found slumped over his steering wheel with a sword and a crack pipe stashed in his car has been jailed |

A former deputy prime minister, RA Butler, used the expression that politics is the art of the possible. I say that politics can be the task of making possible the things that are right. On the issues of the European Union and the United Kingdom, my view is that the referendum result should be respected: we need to leave. Additionally, we should do so in the way that reduces the damage and also gives the greatest opportunities for us to prosper and to play our roles in the world and in our changing European continent. I oppose having UK elections to the European parliament.

The other book is the first volume of The Honourable Ladies: Profiles of Women MPs 1918-1996, edited by Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith with the foreword by Theresa May who did much to encourage many more women MPs. The chapter on Margaret Thatcher, by Virginia, recalls the dominating speech she made at the start of the Labour government’s 1975 European referendum campaign.

As parliament tries on a cross-party basis to find a way forward, I want to acknowledge all those who were welcomed last Friday while prayers took place at our local mosque. People should not worry about the pro-Corbyn badges that some thought were unnecessary. The spectrum from Conservative councillors to the speaker who declared as a Labour candidate in the May elections was dominated by those who defend faith in our district.

As MP, my habit is not to advertise my party at non-party events.

After attending the vigil at the first advertised time, I returned for the main gathering and explained to the Islamic Society that I would be back for prayers after planting a 20th anniversary tree for Worthing Homes. In my few words after prayers, I thanked the Imam for hosting us and I asked that the whole community give support if or when there is need for a larger mosque.

Last Friday concluded when my association held the annual meeting at the East Preston Conservative Hall. That hall was given for community benefit.

Women at Westminster and around the constituency have made a difference. Women serve as Mayor, High Sheriff and as West Sussex Lord Lieutenant; Arun and the County have women leaders.

Emily Davison might have felt her sacrifice was not necessary. It would be good to have been able to write about her possible service as an MP.


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