How important were the actions of the suffragettes in helping women gain the vote in 1918? In 1918 the representation of the people act enfranchised 8 million women who were over the age of 30 and owned property or were married to a property owner. It is a source of debate about what achieved this. Some believe that the suffragettes were an important factor. However it is important to assess their contribution against other factors such as the suffragists, the changing attitudes to women and the effect of WWI. After assessing all these factors this essay intends to argue that the suffragettes were not very important in helping gain the vote in 1918. Firstly between 1909 and 1912 it can be said that the suffragettes did help their cause because they revitalised the campaign and gained publicity. Their tactics were more militant than the peaceful suffragists, they believed in 'deeds not words' and this made them less easy to ignore. During this period they heckled politicians, chained themselves to parliament and pretended to spit at police men. In 1909 they won sympathy and respect as they were force fed while on hunger strike. In 1909 they also sold their own newspaper, of 25,000 copies per week. this helped because it got the campaig noticed. However ultimately not all the actions of the suffragettes helped women get the vote. Between 1912 and 1914 the suffragists began to act as a barrier to women getting the vote. They fired bombed churches and other property. Slasher Mary cut a painting in the National Gallery and they put acid on golf courses and in letterboxes. This certainly did not help women get the vote, as although it brought them publicity - as in the time the issue of female suffrage we debated daily in parliament - it was bad publicity. This hindered the cause because the 1912 conciliation bill was blocked and blamed on suffragette violence. Also by acting as terrorists the government could never give in and give them the vote or else this would encourage other terrorist groups. On the other hand it is worth considering that while they acted as a barrier before 1914, in 1917 the Wild Period did reap results as some MPs were keen to give women the vote to avoid a return to the wild period. Therefore although in the early years and in 1917 the suffragettes did help, however during the wild period they acted as an obstacle. What also helped was the peaceful tactics of the suffragists. ___________________________ Historian Alastair Gray argues that the vote was given as a reward for women's war work and therefore this helped more than any other factor. It is true that women worked hard in the war, for example by 1918 60% of shell makers were women and 919,000 women were employed in munitions. Over 7 million were employed in some kind of war work, including the Land army to provide food. However it would be worng to say that the vote was a reward as it was given to wealthy women over 30 whereas most muntion workerss were young working class girls. For this reason, the vote was not a reward. Where war work helped was because it improved their public image, it showed that women could be hard working and responsible, espcially after the negative reaction to women in the wild period. Combined with the lack of violence from the suffragists it gave them the opportunity to back down without losing face and finally it also removed the argument that women had not served their country and didn't deserve the vote. However had it not been for the pre-war suffrage campaign which had made the idea of votes for women generally accepted it is unlikely that war work alone would have given women the vote, after all in France women completed war work, but they had no pre-war suffrage campaign and did not receive the vote in 1918. In light of this yes the suffragette campaign helped provide the ground work and war work provided the opportunity for the vote to be granted.