Emmeline Pankhurst had been a member of the ILP since the 1890’s and had served on its executive body, the National Administrative Council (NAC).
Founded in 1903 the WSPU had however, always been independent of any political party.
At the Cockermouth by-election in 1906, the WSPU instigated its policy of voting against the Liberal Government. Their lack of support for the Labour candidate Robert Smillie angered many in the Labour Party.
Increasingly frustrated that the ILP would not dedicate itself to women’s suffrage, Emmeline and her daughter Christabel resigned their membership in 1907.
The WSPU did have its supporters including George Lansbury and the Pankhurst’s long standing friend Keir Hardie.
They spoke out in Parliament against the harsh sentences and treatment the Suffragettes received. However many within the Labour Party disagreed with their tactics. Ramsay MacDonald who was in favour of women’s suffrage believed their militancy would do more harm than good.
The WSPU became an increasingly middle class, right wing organisation and even Hardie began to distance himself from it.
By 1912 the WSPU actively opposed the Labour Party for supporting the Liberal Government and not doing enough for women’s suffrage. Keir Hardie was heckled as a man of ‘words not deeds’.