Tony Benn said in the House of Commons in 2001: ‘I have put up several plaques—quite illegally, without permission; I screwed them up myself. One was in the broom cupboard to commemorate Emily Wilding Davison, and another celebrated the people who fought for democracy and those who run the House. If one walks around this place, one sees statues of people, not one of whom believed in democracy, votes for women or anything else. We have to be sure that we are a workshop and not a museum.’
Emily Wilding Davison
Emily Wilding Davison (11 October 1872 – 8 June 1913) was a militant activist who fought for women’s suffrage in Britain. She was jailed on nine occasions and force-fed 49 times.
She is best known for stepping in front of King George V’s horse Anmer at the Epsom Derby on 4 June 1913, sustaining injuries that resulted in her death four days later.
Emily Davison’s funeral on 14 June 1913 was organised by the Women’s Social and Political Union. Thousands of suffragettes accompanied the coffin and tens of thousands of people lined the streets of London. After a service in Bloomsbury her coffin was taken by train to the family grave in Morpeth, Northumberland. Find out more at Wikipedia.
Anthony Neil Wedgwood “Tony” Benn (3 April 1925 – 14 March 2014), formerly 2nd Viscount Stansgate, was a British Labour politician who was a Member of Parliament (MP) between 1950 and 2001 and a Cabinet minister under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan in the 1960s and 1970s.
Benn’s campaign to renounce his hereditary peerage led to the Peerage Act 1963. In the Labour Government of 1964–1970 he served first as Postmaster General, where he oversaw the opening of the Post Office Tower, and later as a “technocratic” Minister of Technology.
In 1971–72, when the Labour Party was in Opposition, he was Chairman of the Labour Party. In the Labour Government of 1974–1979, he returned to the Cabinet, initially as Secretary of State for Industry, before being made Secretary of State for Energy, retaining his post when James Callaghan replaced Wilson as Prime Minister. When the Labour Party was in Opposition in the 1980s, he was a prominent figure on its left wing and the term “Bennite” came to be used for someone with radical left-wing politics.
Benn topped several polls as the most popular politician in the UK and was described as “one of the few UK politicians to have become more left-wing after holding ministerial office.” After leaving Parliament, Benn was President of the Stop the War Coalition from 2001 until his death.