Monday, September 26, 2005

An Academic Writes

Dr Martyn Amos of Exeter University was incensed by the BBC report on the pensioner jailed for non-payment of council tax.

The BBC's John Kay said: "One of the pensioners I've talked to described her as the council tax equivalent of Emily Pankhurst or the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

"That is how she is being perceived by people down here, where her plight has been recognised for some time."

I was pretty furious when I read that, too. Don't the BBC know that it was Emmeline Pankhurst, not Emily, who led the WSPU before the First World War. Emily Davison was the one who chucked herself under the favourite in a well-organised betting coup which made £23,000 for Emmeline's daughter Christabel.

Dr Amos has other concerns.

"Her stance is a purely political gesture, not that of an impoverished pensioner scraping by on a tiny pension. To compare her to Emily Pankhurst is (a) wildly inaccurate, and (b) offensive."

He's right. Quite apart from Emily/Emmeline, unlike Mrs Pankhurst, Sylvia Hardy has organised no campaigns of vandalism or arson. And it is certainly offensive to compare a harmless retired lady to the woman who in 1917 founded the Womens Party, successor to the WSPU, on a platform of abolishing trade unions and eliminating all persons of non-British descent from government departments and essential industries.

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