Male politicians come out in support of Brighton suffragette statue

Politicians of all colours have come out in favour of a Brighton statue in memory of suffragette Mary Clarke.

Steve Bell, Phelim Mac Cafferty, Peter Kyle, Tony Janio, Alan Robins and Pete West have shown their support for the statue appeal
Steve Bell, Phelim Mac Cafferty, Peter Kyle, Tony Janio, Alan Robins and Pete West have shown their support for the statue appeal

The latest supporters follow in the footsteps of Green MP Caroline Lucas and Conservative MP Maria Caulfield who expressed their backing of the project earlier this month.

On Friday (April 26) more politicians posed for photographs at the preferred site for the statue, by the entrance to Brighton Museum.

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They included: Cllr Alan Robins (Labour) and Cllr Steve Bell (Conservative) who together have played a key role in support of the campaign for better commemoration and an increased understanding of women’s contribution to our local history; Cllr Peter West (Green), who has given consistent support; and Peter Kyle MP, who has agreed to be a Patron of the Appeal.

Steve Bell, Phelim Mac Cafferty, Peter Kyle, Tony Janio, Jean Calder, Alan Robins and Pete West showing support for the Mary Clarke statue appeal

The Mary Clarke Statue Appeal is campaigning to fund a statue of suffragette Mary Clarke, Emmeline Pankhurst’s sister, who died on Christmas Day 1910. Mary was the local organiser for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) from 1909-1910, and the first suffragette to die as a result of police violence and forced feeding in prison.

Recent investigation by the Brighton & Hove Women’s History Group reveal that throughout the long campaign for women’s right to vote, Brighton and Hove formed a hub of suffragist and suffragette activity. These campaigners suffered considerable hostility at the hands of male opponents, the history group said, and Mary Clarke was forced to withstand the verbal assaults of men that Sylvia Pankhurst called the “Brighton rowdies” – though there were several men who supported the suffrage movement.

Fast forward to 2019 and there are several prominent men supporting the local campaign.

Cllr Alan Robins said: “I’m really happy to support the Mary Clarke Statue Appeal. Mary Clarke was a truly brave and inspirational woman and the first to die in the cause of women’s suffrage and yet no monument to her exists anywhere in the country, I’m extremely proud that the people of Brighton and Hove can put this right.”

Cllr Steve Bell said: ”I was very keen to provide my support to the appeal. We owe so much to these campaigners, who gave their all so that woman could obtain the vote. This statue will be recognition of their hard fought campaign which will stand as a reminder of what we take for granted today.”

Cllr Pete West said: “Mary Clarke was humbler than many and greater than most. Mary’s sacrifice and quiet heroism deserves to be better acknowledged and celebrated. In raising a statue to Mary I hope we’ll all be inspired to challenge the injustice and inequality we see, and be moved to help build a better world.”

Peter Kyle MP said: "I didn't hesitate to accept the offer to be patron of the Mary Clarke Statue Appeal. Mary Clarke embodies the plucky, rebellious, radical spirit of Brighton & Hove and I look forward to doing whatever I can to promote and support the campaign.”

Also pictured is Green convener Phelin Mac Cafferty and leader of the Conservatives in the city Tony Janio.

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