Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Census protests

So, it's census day. Will you be filling yours in?

Maybe you'll be boycotting it because of the links with Lockheed.

Up to you I suppose, but the idea of a boycott is that it's supposed to be a sacrifice for you and not other people, and as the census is used to calculate funding for health, education and social services you may wish to consider how your non-appearance will affect your local hospital, school or child protection team.

However if you do decide to register a protest of some kind you'll be in good company.

A hundred years ago the Suffragette's decided that if they couldn't vote they may as well not officially exist. Boycotting took many forms, including staying out all night and partying at the local church hall, which is the sort of protest I like.

Not all followed this boycott, and when the 1911 census data was made public last year, researchers were surprised to find the names of prominent Suffragettes on it, which shows that even then those who talk the talk may not always walk the walk.

The most imaginative use of the census though was made by Emily Davison.

Davison was certainly at the spikier end of the Suffragette movement, attacking a man she mistook for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and planting a bomb at Lloyd George's house. She became a Suffragette martyr in 1913 when she died under the King's horse at the Derby, which is definitely not the sort of protest I like.

However she also protested in fluffier ways, and census night 1911 found her hiding in a broom cupboard in the Houses of Parliament. Next day she could tell the census officers, in all honesty, that one woman at least was now in Parliament.

The broom cupboard is still there, and thanks to Tony Benn a plaque with her picture on hangs in it, "one of very few monuments to democracy in the whole building".

This plaque, it seems, is what inspired Danny Boyle to include the Suffragettes in his Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics which included a moment, only briefly seen on TV, where the women carry a Christ like 'Emily Davidson' above their heads.

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