Labour would pardon suffragettes and apologise for persecution, says Corbyn

Suffragettes who were given criminal records in their battle for equality would be pardoned under Labour, Jeremy Corbyn has pledged.

The Opposition leader said an official apology for the miscarriages of justice and persecution the campaigners suffered would also be made if he took power.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said she will look at calls to pardon suffragettes but suggested it would be a complicated to carry out.

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Labour is launching a 12-month campaign to celebrate women's suffrage and to look at what steps can be taken to end the "grotesque levels of inequality" in society as well as the gender pay gap.

The party held its shadow cabinet meeting at the Museum of London, which is holding a year-long exhibition to mark the first women securing the right to vote in Britain.

Mr Corbyn told his top team: "As a country, we must recognise and honour the enormous contribution and sacrifice made by women who campaigned for the right to vote.

Centenary of the Representation of the People Act
Centenary of the Representation of the People Act

"Many of those women were treated appallingly by society and the state. Convictions of suffragettes were politically motivated and bore no relation to the acts committed.

"Some were severely mistreated and force-fed in prison post-conviction so a pardon could mean something to their families."

He added: "Labour in government will both pardon the suffragettes and give an official apology for the miscarriages of justice and wider persecution they suffered."

Mr Corbyn said the reforms secured in 1918 were not gifted by MPs.

"Change did not come from above, it was won by the suffragettes who forced the government to act."