''Without the First World War British women would not have gained the right to vote in 1918.'' Do you agree or disagree with this interpretation?
British women over 30 got the vote with the 1918 Representation of the People Act. The law was being changed, to ensure that soldiers coming home from the trenches were able to vote, if they hadn't been changing the law anyway, women were unlikely to have got the vote in 1918. There are many reasons why women got the vote, including: their work during WW1, Lloyd George being a supporter of women's suffrage, the suffragists' campaign of propaganda, the suffragettes' terrorism, the desire of MPs to not alienate potential voters, society's gradually changing attitudes and the fact that Britain did not want to be seen as old-fashioned.
During WW1, women undertook jobs that needed doing while men who previously did the jobs were away fighting. They worked in factories making things for the war, like uniforms and shells and took over jobs men had done before the war, like working on farms, driving lorries and delivering coal. This work in factories and other jobs gave women more money and confidence. This confidence meant that women were seen differently, and more able, by many men. This confidence and respect from men helped to gain women the vote in 1918, and was an important contributing factor.
The work of women during the war and 1915 munitions crisis gained them respect and made David Lloyd George a great supporter. This led him to later support women's suffrage, due to his respect for the work they had done. Herbert Asquith also seemed to be converted in opinion by the women's war effort. In Source J he says, “How could we have carried on the war without women? ....I will find it impossible to withhold from women the power and right of making their voices heard.” Even if Asquith did not believe this, and was trying to curry favour with women in case they did get the vote, it was still an important step. Source J is useful because it shows how Asquith seemed to feel about women getting the vote, and how important they were in the war effort. It's not a very useful source for showing other politicians' opinions, however Asquith was an influential senior MP. Source J is useful because it is from just before women got the vote, and can show some of the reasons they got it. It is also useful as it is a speech to the Commons, and one might expect a speech to MPs would contain few untruths. It is less useful because it is a speech, and may be designed to influence people.