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Cover of Women's History Review

Women's History Review

Volume 23, Issue 3, May 2014
Pages 330-346

  • DOI: 10.1080/09612025.2013.820597
  • Print ISSN: 0961-2025
  • Online ISSN: 1747-583X

Christabel Pankhurst and the Smethwick Election: right-wing feminism, the Great War and the ideology of consumption

This article examines the roots of Christabel Pankhurst's Women's Party in the Women's Social and Political Union's adoption of right-wing feminism during the Great War. It explores the blending of radical-right and imperialist ideology with a feminist agenda that combined a demand for women's rights with an anti-Bolshevik economic policy based on the power of female consumers. This blending of feminism and nationalism won Christabel the ‘coupon’ endorsement of the Lloyd George coalition and became the ideological platform for her parliamentary campaign in the Smethwick election. Although Christabel lost the election by 775 votes, it is contended that the Women's Party platform offers clues to the attraction of right-wing ideology to some notable figures in the women's movement.