Looking back from the perspective of 1928, the equal rights feminist, Ray Strachey, admitted that in 1917–18 suffragists had been too exhausted and distracted to realise that the tide was turning decisively in their favour.1 Until a very late stage the life-and-death struggle with Germany absorbed their thoughts. After the comparative ease with which parliament granted the vote came a greater surprise: in October 1918 MPs conceded, almost without debate, the right of women to sit in the House of Commons, preferring to settle the issue rather than leaving it to Returning Officers to decide whether to accept women’s nominations as valid. Hard on the heels of this coup came the December general election. There followed a scramble to find female candidates, and constituencies willing to take them, but there was no time for a serious effort to place women in winnable seats.
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