I had such a great day on Saturday. The sun shone on the 3000 or so people (mainly women but plenty of men too) who strode through Edinburgh re-enacting the Gude Cause protest march which took place on Princes Street 100 years ago, when women took to the cobbles to demand the right to vote. Both now and then a banner read: A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Arm. gude cause arm

Peter Ross’ account of Saturday’s procession states: These Scottish suffragettes were remarkable and vivid. Scotland was key to the fight for the franchise; two million signatures demanding the right to vote were collected here. Scots were among the most militant of campaigners. A favourite publicity stunt was to pour acid on golf courses, though today the putting green on Bruntsfield Links goes unmolested. … The idea is not simply suffrage, it’s equality between the sexes and a desire that women should reengage with politics. The suffragettes wanted votes for women; these reenactors want women to value and use the votes for which their great grannies fought. Gude Cause was prompted by a poll which suggested that fewer than 45 per cent of women who were registered to vote were planning to do so at the 2007 Holyrood election, an election which resulted in fewer female MSPs being elected than in 2003 or 1999.

Great strides have been made since 1909, of course, and Fiona Hyslop, at the front of the march, tells me how remarkable she finds it that the site of Calton Jail, where suffragettes were imprisoned and force-fed, is now the site of St Andrew’s House in which she and other women are government ministers.

There’s a feeling, though, that in Scotland we’re going backwards. But organisers hope that Gude Cause will politicise a new generation, that the radicalism it celebrates will prove highly infectious among young women – a sort of quine flu.

high st


humeI marched with the singing group, Protest in Harmony. I can’t hold a tune but in that vibrant community I’m happy to make a joyful noise. We sang some great songs as we marched through the Meadows and down the High Street and then again at Calton Hill. I think my favourite is ‘Nana was a Suffragette’.

pih And here’s my favourite verse:

Here am I standing with my college degree.

And my kids have more options that Nana could foresee

But if you think we’re satisfied

Take a look around

There’s a lot of angry women who won’t their nanas down. (to riotous applause!)

Thanks to monkeypuzzle and  Sara Maclean for the photos.

When I look at the clothes for children, as well as lamentably low rates of voting amongst men as well as women in past elections, I know there is still a great deal of work to be done before we can celebrate liberation and equality:boy skull marine bibprincessleopard coatProstitute chique for your one year old.