100 years of voting: British marches celebrate suffragettes

Participants react as they march through the streets to celebrate 100 years since women were granted the vote, in London, Sunday June 10, 2018. (AP)
Updated 11 June 2018

100 years of voting: British marches celebrate suffragettes

  • The London march flowed in bands of color through the heart of the city

LONDON: Thousands of women turned British cities into rivers of green, white and violet Sunday to mark 100 years since the first women won the right to vote in the UK
Part artwork, part parade, “Processions” saw women march through London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast wearing scarves in the colors of the suffragette movement that fought for the female franchise.
The London march flowed in bands of color through the heart of the city, along Piccadilly and around Trafalgar Square before heading to Parliament, the seat of British political power.
In 1918, Parliament enacted the Representation of the People Act, which granted property-owning British women over 30 the right to vote. It would be another decade before women won the same voting rights as men.
Sunday’s celebration was organized by arts group Artichoke, which specializes in large-scale, participatory events. It asked 100 artists to work with women’s groups around the country on banners inspired by the bold designs of the suffragettes, who led a decades-long campaign of protest and civil disobedience to get votes for women.
The London march featured banners from Brownie packs and arts groups, an organization for female ex-prisoners and the Worshipful Company of Upholders, an upholsterers’ guild. Some participants dressed as Edwardian suffragettes or wore sashes in green, white or violet.
One woman had knitted a pendant with the suffragette slogan “Deeds not words.” Another came with a banner evoking the modern-day women’s movement: “Nevertheless she persisted.”
Women came from across England and even further afield to take part.
Asma Shami from Lahore, Pakistan, said she rearranged her visit to Britain so she could attend the march and celebrate women’s progress.
“It’s so energizing,” she said. “We’ve come a long way, and we have a long way still to go.”
Artichoke director Helen Marriage said she was struck by the amount of enthusiasm for the project.
“A craft shop in London told us they’d run out of purple and green tassels, and they didn’t know why,” she said.
Mother and daughter Claire Gillett and Chloe Whittaker, from Great Saling in eastern England, wore green shawls and said they had recently discovered suffragettes among their ancestors.
Gillett said she was “super proud” of her forbears, especially since she’d always believed “women in our family aren’t very outspoken or bold.”
“It was quite empowering,” she said.
The mood was celebratory, but Marriage said the event aimed to draw attention to what remains to be done to achieve equality, from closing the gender pay gap to ending workplace sexual harassment.
It also hoped to erase any notion of the suffragettes as prim campaigners from a more polite age. They defied the law, went on hunger strike, broke windows and even set off bombs in pursuit of their goal.
“They were really extraordinary people,” Marriage said. “A thousand of them went to prison. They were force fed in prison. In today’s terms they would be described as terrorists.”
Votes for British women were won through a combination of the militant suffragettes and their more law-abiding sisters, the suffragists. A statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett was recently erected in Parliament Square, the first on the site to commemorate a woman.
The suffragettes and their legacy remain more controversial.
“They were really quite anarchic,” said artist Quilla Constance, standing with a riotously colorful banner from the group Bedford Creative Arts. “They had to really fight. And we still have to fight.
“I think they’re here today in spirit, and we’re giving them high fives,” she said.


Trump linked Ukraine aid to demand for probe: US diplomat

President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in Washington. (AP)
Updated 51 min 11 sec ago

Trump linked Ukraine aid to demand for probe: US diplomat

  • Taylor’s appearance was among the most anticipated before House investigators because of a series of text messages with the other diplomats in which he called Trump’s attempt to hold back military aid to Ukraine “crazy”

WASHINGTON: A top US diplomat testified Tuesday that President Donald Trump was holding back military aid for Ukraine unless the country agreed to investigate Democrats and a company linked to Joe Biden’s family, providing lawmakers with a detailed new account of the quid pro quo central to the impeachment probe.
In a lengthy opening statement to House investigators obtained by The Associated Press, William Taylor described Trump’s demand that “everything” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wanted, including vital aid to counter Russia, hinged on making a public vow that Ukraine would investigate Democrats going back to the 2016 US election as well as a company linked to the family of Trump’s potential 2020 Democratic rival.
Taylor testified that what he discovered in Kyiv was the Trump administration’s “irregular” back channel to foreign policy led by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and “ultimately alarming circumstances” that threatened to erode the United States’ relationship with a budding Eastern European ally facing Russian aggression.
In a date-by-date account, detailed across several pages, the seasoned diplomat who came out of retirement to take over as charge d’affaires at the embassy in Ukraine details his mounting concern as he realized Trump was trying to put the newly elected president of the young democracy “in a public box.”
“I sensed something odd,” he testified, describing a trio of Trump officials planning a call with Zelenskiy, including one, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who wanted to make sure “no one was transcribing or monitoring” it.
Lawmakers who emerged after nearly 10 hours of the private deposition were stunned at Taylor’s account, which some Democrats said established a “direct line” to the quid pro quo at the center of the impeachment probe.
“It was shocking,” said Rep. Karen Bass, a California Democrat. “It was very clear that it was required — if you want the assistance, you have to make a public statement.”
She characterized it as “it’s this for that.”
Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat from Nevada, said, “You can see how damning this is.”
Titus said, “This certainly makes it pretty clear what was going on. And it was a quid pro quo.”
The account reaches to the highest levels of the administration, drawing in Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and slices at the core of the Republican defense of the administration and the president’s insistence of no wrongdoing.
It also lays bare the struggle between Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton and those who a previous State Department witness described as the “three amigos” — Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and special envoy Kurt Volker— who were involved in the alternative Ukraine policy vis-a-vis Russia.
It’s illegal to seek or receive contributions of value from a foreign entity for a US election.
“President Trump has done nothing wrong,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. “This is a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution. There was no quid pro quo.”
Taylor’s appearance was among the most anticipated before House investigators because of a series of text messages with the other diplomats in which he called Trump’s attempt to hold back military aid to Ukraine “crazy.”
His testimony opens a new front in the impeachment inquiry, and it calls into question the account from Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, who told Congress last week that he did not fully remember some details of the events and was initially unaware that the gas company Burisma was tied to the Bidens.
Taylor told lawmakers that Sondland, a wealthy businessman who donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, was aware of the demands and later admitted he made a mistake by telling the Ukrainians that military assistance was not contingent on agreeing to Trump’s requests.
“In fact, Ambassador Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including the security assistance,” Taylor recalled.
“Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelenskyy to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US election,” Taylor said about a Sept. 1 phone call between them.
Taylor apparently kept detailed records of conversations and documents, including two personal notebooks, lawmakers said.
The retired diplomat, a former Army officer, had been serving as executive vice president at the US Institute of Peace, a nonpartisan think tank founded by Congress, when he was appointed to run the embassy in Kyiv after Trump suddenly recalled Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch.
Taylor testified that he had concerns about taking over the post under those circumstances, but she urged him to go “for policy reasons and for the morale of the embassy.” He had served as US ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009.
Lawmakers described the career civil servant’s delivery as credible and consistent, as he answered hours of questions from Democrats and Republicans, drawing silence in the room as lawmakers exchanged glances.
Taylor testified that he “sat in astonishment” on a July 18 call in which a White House budget official said that Trump had relayed a message through Mulvaney that the aid should be withheld.
A month later, his concerns had so deepened that he was preparing to resign. Sensing the US policy toward Ukraine has shifted, he described an Aug. 22 phone call with Tim Morrison, a Russia adviser at the White House, who told him, the “president doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all.”
“That was extremely troubling to me,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s description of Trump’s position is in sharp contrast to how the president has characterized it. Trump has said many times that there was no quid pro quo, though Mulvaney contradicted that last week. Mulvaney later tried to walk back his remarks.
“The testimony is very disturbing,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minnesota, used the same word.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said Taylor “drew a straight line” with documents, timelines and individual conversations in his records.
“I do not know how you would listen to today’s testimony from Ambassador Taylor and come to any other (conclusion) except that the president abused his power and withheld foreign aid,” she said.
The impeachment probe was sparked by a whistleblower’s complaint of a July call. In that call, Trump told Zelenskiy he wanted “a favor,” which the White House later acknowledged in a rough transcript of the conversation was Trump’s desire for Ukraine to investigate the Democratic National Committee’s email hack in 2016 as well as the Ukrainian gas company Burisma tied to Biden’s family.