Social unrest dominated British political life at this time and, as Home Secretary, WSC carried primary responsibility for government response to the ferment. Worker riots centered on the Welsh mining town of Tonypandy. Churchill’s actions earned him severe criticism of both the Left and the Right. The Left attacked him for excessive use of force; the Right charged that he should have used troops, not police, to quell the disturbances.
The calling of an election killed the Conciliation Bill or the Parliamentary Franchise (Women) Bill. On what the suffragettes called Black Friday (18 November) many women were beaten in a demonstration on Parliament Square. Despite Churchill’s desire to pre- vent this, he was held responsible. On 22 November he supervised police action in another demonstration at Downing Street. A few days later, he was physically attacked by a male supporter of the suffragettes. For many years he was perceived as a special villain by many Labour supporters and suffragettes.
He made prison reform a personal concern. He noted that sons of the working class faced jail terms for offenses which were perceived to be manifestations of exuberant spirits in sons of other classes. He proposed time to pay debts instead of jail sentences. Capital punishment cases caused him much anguish.
Bonar Law challenged Churchill to run against him in Manchester, the loser to stay out of the succeeding Parliament. Winston declined, ran and won in Dundee. Clementine helped, even to the extent of making a short speech on the danger of an increased cost of living if Tariff Reform was introduced.
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