The Women’s Equality Party: “And Everything Old is New Again…”

Abstract : The May 2016 elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and London mayor and assembly members saw the appearance of a newcomer on the British political scene. The Women’s Equality Party, co-founded the year before by Catherine Mayer and Sandi Toksvig to push “for equal representation in politics, business, industry and throughout working life,” is not the only one of its kind in Europe. More interesting, it is not the first one of its kind in the UK either. Both its name and the fact that it presents itself as based on a six point-programme are direct reminders of Christabel Pankhurst’s Women’s Party and Margaret Haig’s Six Point Group, both launched in the context of women’s enfranchisement in 1918 together with other attempts at creating a women’s party in Parliament and local government. Such similarities with events that are now one hundred years old cannot fail to raise a number of questions, not only as to the reasons that account for its emergence, but also as to what may still motivate women today to organize separately from mainstream political parties rather than contribute to change things from the inside –a question that was central to the interwar women’s movement. By placing WE in a wider historical perspective, this article will not only try to determine to what extent the party can be considered as innovative rather than a close replica of past initiatives, it will also provide some special insight into the changes and continuities in the strategies, motivations and recruitment of women-only British political associations or parties. In this respect, the choice made by its members to claim the inheritance of the suffragette movement rather than that of other groups it bears more resemblance to will also be looked into.
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Véronique Molinari. The Women’s Equality Party: “And Everything Old is New Again…”. Revue française de civilisation britannique, CRECIB - Centre de recherche et d'études en civilisation britannique, 2018. ⟨hal-01737941⟩

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