Alice Wheeldon

Alice Wheeldon


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Alice Marshall, kći Williama Marshalla, željezničkog inženjera, rođena je u Derbyu 27. siječnja 1866. Nakon napuštanja škole radila je kao kućna pomoćnica.

Godine 1886. Alice se udala za Williama Wheeldona, udovičkog montera motora, četrnaest godina starijeg od nje, u matičnom uredu u West Derbyju. Par se preselio u 87 Marsh Lane, Bootle. U narednih nekoliko godina Alice Wheeldon rodila je Nellie (1888), Hettie (1891), William (1892) i Winnie (1893).

Godine 1901. Alice i njena porodica preselili su se u Stanhope Street 91, Derby. William Wheeldon je sada radio kao trgovački putnik, dok je Alice Wheeldon vodila trgovinu rabljene odjeće na adresi 12 Pear Tree Road. Derby & District Directory bilježi da je kupovala i prodavala sadržaje ljudskih ormara.

Alice Wheeldon postala je aktivna u politici. Bila je socijalistkinja i članica Socijalističke radničke partije (SLP). Bila je aktivna i u Ženskoj društvenoj i političkoj uniji (WSPU). Njene kćeri, Hettie Wheeldon i Winnie Wheeldon, dijelile su njene feminističke političke stavove.

Izbijanje Prvog svjetskog rata izazvalo je sukob između Alice i WSPU -a. Alice je bila pacifistkinja i nije se složila sa snažnom podrškom WSPU -a u ratu. Sylvia Pankhurst i Charlotte Despard osnovale su Žensku mirovnu vojsku, organizaciju koja je tražila mir postignut pregovorima. Alice, Hettie Wheeldon i Winnie Wheeldon, sve su se pridružile ovoj novoj političkoj grupi. Među ostalim članovima bile su Helena Swanwick i Olive Schreiner.

Alice i njezine kćeri također su se pridružile stipendiji bez regrutiranja (NCF). Drugi članovi su bili Clifford Allen, Fenner Brockway, Bertrand Russell, Philip Snowden, Bruce Glasier, Robert Smillie, C. H. Norman i velečasni John Clifford.

1915. Alisina kći Winnie udala se za Alfreda Masona. Par se preselio u Southampton, gdje je Mason radio kao kemičar i nastavio biti uključen u socijalistički i antiratni pokret. Alisin sin, William Wheeldon, također je bio aktivan u ovoj stvari. 31. avgusta 1916. godine pojavio se pred Policijskim sudom u Derby Boroughu optužen za "namjerno ometanje policajaca u izvršavanju njihove dužnosti". Prethodne sedmice pokušao je spriječiti policiju da premjesti pet prigovarača savjesti iz zatvora na željezničku stanicu. William je proglašen krivim i osuđen na mjesec dana zatvora.

Preko 3.000.000 ljudi dobrovoljno se prijavilo za služenje u britanskim oružanim snagama tokom prve dvije godine Prvog svjetskog rata. Zbog velikih gubitaka na Zapadnom frontu, vlada je odlučila uvesti vojni rok (obavezan upis) donošenjem Zakona o vojnoj službi. NCF je vodio snažnu kampanju protiv kažnjavanja i zatvaranja prigovarača savjesti. Oko 16.000 ljudi odbilo je borbu. Većina tih ljudi bili su pacifisti, koji su vjerovali da je čak i za vrijeme rata bilo pogrešno ubiti drugo ljudsko biće.

Alice Wheeldon, Willie Paul, John S. Clarke i Arthur McManus, osnovali su mrežu u Derbyu kako bi pomogli prigovaračima savjesti u bijegu ili u zatvoru. Ovo je uključivalo njenog sina, Williama Wheeldona, koji je potajno živio sa sestrom Winnie Mason u Southamptonu.

Dana 27. decembra 1916. Alex Gordon stigao je u kuću Alice tvrdeći da je prigovarao savjesti bježeći od policije. Alice mu je sredila da prespava u kući Lydije Robinson. par dana kasnije Gordon se vratio u Alisin dom sa Herbertom Boothom, drugim čovjekom za kojeg je rekao da je bio član antiratnog pokreta. Zapravo, i Gordon i Booth bili su prikriveni agenti koji su radili za MI5 preko Ministarstva streljiva. Prema Alice, Gordon i Booth su joj rekli da su psi sada čuvali logore u kojima su držani prigovarači savjesti; te da su joj sugerirali da će otrov biti neophodan za uklanjanje životinja kako bi muškarci mogli pobjeći.

Alice Wheeldon pristala je zamoliti svog zeta, Alfreda Masona, koji je bio kemičar u Southamptonu, da nabavi otrov, sve dok joj je Gordon pomagao oko plana da sina dovede u Sjedinjene Države: "Budući da sam poslovna žena, nagodio se s njim (Gordon) da ako mu mogu pomoći da svoje prijatelje iz koncentracijskog logora riješi pasa, on će se, s druge strane, pobrinuti za trojicu dječaka, mog sina, Masona i jednog mladića po imenu MacDonald, kojeg sam zadržao, bježi. "

31. januara 1917. Alice Wheeldon, Hettie Wheeldon, Winnie Mason i Alfred Mason uhapšene su i optužene za planiranje ubistva britanskog premijera Davida Lloyda Georgea i Arthura Hendersona, vođe Laburističke partije.

U Alisinoj kući zatekli su Alexandera Macdonalda iz šervudskih šumara koji je bio odsutan bez odmora od decembra 1916. Kada je uhapšena, Alice je tvrdila: "Mislim da je tako izmišljena optužba da me kazni jer je moj momak prigovarač savjesti. ... kaznili ste ga preko mene dok ste ga držali u zatvoru ... podigli ste neosnovanu optužbu da je otišao u zatvor, a sada je otišao s puta kako mislite da ćete ga kazniti preko mene i to ćete i učiniti. "

Sir Frederick Smith, državni tužilac, imenovan je za tužioca Alice Wheeldon. Smith, poslanik Liverpoola Waltona, prethodno je bio zadužen za vladin Ured za štampu Ratnog ureda, koji je bio odgovoran za cenzuru novina i proratnu propagandnu kampanju.

Slučaj je suđen u Old Baileyu umjesto u Derbiju. Prema prijateljima optuženog, promjena mjesta je iskorištena u nedavnim napadima Ceppelina na London. Kao što je Nicola Rippon istaknula u svojoj knjizi, Zavjera za ubistvo Lloyda Georgea (2009): "To je stvorilo potencijalnog porotu koja će se vjerovatno i uplašiti neprijatelja i zvučati odlučno u pobjedi u ratu."

Suđenje je počelo 6. marta 1917. Alice Wheeldon je za svog branioca odabrala Saiyid Haidan Rizu. On se tek nedavno kvalificirao kao pravnik i čini se da je izabran zbog njegove uključenosti u socijalistički pokret.

U svom uvodnom izlaganju Sir Frederick Smith je tvrdio da su "žene iz Wheeldona imale običaj da koriste, uobičajeno, jezik koji bi bio odvratan i opscen u ustima najniže klase kriminalaca." On je dalje tvrdio da su glavni dokazi protiv optuženih bili iskazi dvojice prikrivenih agenata. Međutim, objavljeno je da se Alex Gordon neće pojaviti na sudu da svjedoči.

Basil Thomson, zamjenik komesara gradske policije, tvrdio je u svojoj knjizi, Priča o Scotland Yardu (1935) da je Gordon bio agent koji je "bio osoba sa kriminalnom prošlošću ili je cijelu priču izmislio kako bi od svog poslodavca dobio novac i kredit".

Herbert Booth je na sudu rekao da mu je Alice Wheeldon priznala da su ona i njene kćerke učestvovale u požaru dok su bile članice Društva žena i društva. Prema Booth-u, Alice je tvrdila da je koristila benzin da zapali 900 godina staru crkvu Svih Svetih u Breadsallu 5. juna 1914. Dodala je: "Znate posao u Breadsall-u? Bili smo skoro pandur, ali smo bili krvavi njih! "

Booth je jednom drugom prilikom tvrdila da je, govoreći o Davidu Lloydu Georgeu i Arthuru Hendersonu, primijetila: "Nadam se da će buggers uskoro umrijeti." Alice je dodala da je Lloyd George "bio uzrok žrtvovanja miliona nedužnih života, bugger će biti ubijen da se to zaustavi ... a što se tiče tog drugog hendlera Hendersona, on je izdajica svog naroda." Booth je također tvrdio da je Alice prijetila smrću Herbertu Asquithu kojeg je opisala kao "krvavi mozak u poslu".

Herbert Booth je posvjedočio da je pitao Alice koja je najbolja metoda da se ubije David Lloyd George. Ona je odgovorila: "Mi (WSPU) smo ranije imali plan kada smo potrošili 300 funti pokušavajući ga otrovati ... da dobijemo mjesto u hotelu u kojem je odsjeo i da mu zabijemo ekser kroz čizmu koja je bila umočena u otrov, ali otišao je u Francusku, gnjavator. "

Ser Frederick Smith je tvrdio da je plan bio da se ovom metodom ubije premijer. Zatim je na sudu dostavio pisma koja su pokazala da je Alice kontaktirala Alfreda Masona i dobila četiri staklene bočice otrova koje je dala Boothu. Bili su označeni A, B, C i D. Kasniji naučni dokazi otkrili su da su sadržaj dvije bočice oblika strihnina, ostalih vrsta kurare. Međutim, vodeći stručnjak za otrove, dr. Bernard Spilsbury, pod unakrsnim ispitivanjem, priznao je da ne zna ni za jedan primjer "u naučnoj literaturi" da je curate primijenjen strelicom.

Major William Lauriston Melville Lee, šef PMS2, koji je zapošljavao Herberta Bootha i Alexa Gordona, svjedočio je na sudu. Saiyid Haidan Riza ga je pitao ima li Gordon kriminalni dosije. On je odbio odgovoriti na ovo pitanje i umjesto toga odgovorio: "Već sam vam objasnio da ne poznajem tog čovjeka. Ne mogu odgovarati na pitanja o stvarima izvan svog znanja." Priznao je da je naložio Boothu da "stupi u kontakt s ljudima koji bi mogli izvršiti sabotažu".

Alice je okrenula porotu protiv nje kada je odbila da se zakune na Bibliju. Sudija je odgovorio komentarišući: "Kažete da će potvrda biti jedina moć koja obavezuje vašu savjest?" Implikacija je u tome da bi svjedok, odbivši da se zakune Bogu, vjerojatnije bio neistinit u svom svjedočenju. "To je bila uobičajena pretpostavka u to vrijeme. Međutim, Alice je, otvoreno izjavivši da je ateist, bio njen način da izrazi svoju privrženost istini.

Alice je priznala da je zatražila od Alfreda Masona da nabavi otrov za pse koji čuvaju logore u kojima su držani prigovarači savjesti. To je potkrijepljeno pismom koje je poslao Mason, a koje je presrela policija. Uključivalo je sljedeće: "Sva četiri (staklene bočice) vjerojatno će ostaviti trag, ali ako momak koji ga posjeduje posumnja da će to biti posao za dokazivanje. Sve dok imate priliku doći do psa, žalim ga . Mrtav za 20 sekundi. Prah A na mesu ili kruhu je u redu. "

Insistirala je na tome da je Gordonov plan uključivao ubijanje pasa čuvara. Rekao joj je da zna za najmanje trideset policajaca koji su pobjegli u Ameriku i da ga posebno zanima "pet jidisa koji su još u koncentracionom logoru". Gordon je takođe tvrdio da je pomogao još dvojici jevrejskih policijskih službenika da pobegnu iz zatvora.

Alice Wheeldon priznala je da je rekla Alexu Gordonu da se nada da će David Lloyd George i Arthur Henderson uskoro umrijeti jer ih je smatrala "izdajicom radničkih klasa?" Međutim, bila je sigurna da to nije rekla kada je predala otrov Gordonu.

Kad je Hettie Wheeldon svjedočila, tvrdila je da su Gordon i Booth ti koji su predložili da ubiju premijera. Ona je odgovorila: "Rekla sam da mislim da je atentat smiješan. Jedino što je trebalo učiniti je organizirati ljude u radnjama protiv obaveznog služenja vojnog roka. Rekla sam da je atentat smiješan jer ako ubijete jednog, morat ćete ubiti drugog i tako bi se nastavilo. "

Hettie je rekla da je odmah posumnjala u nove majčine prijatelje: "Mislila sam da su Gordon i Booth policijski špijuni. Rekla sam majci o svojim sumnjama 28. decembra. Do sljedećeg ponedjeljka bila sam zadovoljna da su špijuni. Rekla sam majci : "Možeš raditi šta hoćeš, ali ja nemam ništa s tim."

Na sudu je Winnie Mason priznala da je svojoj majci pomogla u nabavci otrova, ali je insistirala da je to za "neke pse" i da je "dio sheme za oslobađanje zatvorenika radi interniranja". Njen suprug, Alfred Mason, objasnio je zašto ne bi isporučio strihnin da ubije čovjeka jer je "previše gorak i lako ga može otkriti bilo koja namjeravana žrtva". Dodao je da curare ne bi ubio ništa veće od psa.

Emmeline Pankhurst, čelnica Ženskog društvenog i političkog saveza, rekla je sudu: "Mi (WSPU) izjavljujemo da nema života vrijednijeg naroda od života gospodina Lloyda Georgea. Prije bismo ugrozili svoje živote nego njegove treba patiti. "

Saiyid Haidan Riza je tvrdio da je ovo prvo suđenje u engleskoj pravnoj istoriji koje se oslanjalo na dokaze tajnog agenta. Kao što je Nicola Rippon istaknula u svojoj knjizi, Zavjera za ubistvo Lloyda Georgea (2009): "Riza je izjavio da se veliki dio dokaza protiv njegovih klijenata zasniva na riječima i postupcima čovjeka koji čak nije ni stao pred sud da bi se suočio s ispitivanjem." Riza je tvrdio: "Osporavam tužilaštvo da izvede Gordona. Zahtijevam da ga tužilaštvo izvede, kako bi mogao biti podvrgnut unakrsnom ispitivanju. Samo u onim dijelovima svijeta gdje se uvode tajni agenti oni su najstrašniji zločini su počinjeni. Kažem da bi Gordon trebao biti proizveden u interesu javne sigurnosti. Ako ovaj način gonjenja ostane neosporan, to predstavlja lošu ocjenu za Englesku. "

Sudija se nije složio s prigovorom o upotrebi tajnih agenata. "Bez njih bi bilo nemoguće otkriti zločine ove vrste." Međutim, priznao je da ako porota ne povjeruje u dokaze Herberta Bootha, onda slučaj "u velikoj mjeri propada". Očigledno, porota je povjerovala Boothovom svjedočenju i nakon manje od pola sata vijećanja utvrdili su da su Alice Wheeldon, Winnie Mason i Alfred Mason krivi za zavjeru za ubistvo. Alice je osuđena na deset godina zatvora. Alfred je dobio sedam godina, dok je Winnie dobila "petogodišnju kaznu zatvora".

Derbi Merkur izvijestio: "Bio je to žalostan slučaj, žalostan vidjeti cijelu porodicu na optuženičkoj klupi; bilo je tužno vidjeti žene, očigledno obrazovane, kako koriste jezik koji bi bio prljav u ustima najnižih žena. Dvije optužene bile su učiteljice mladih; njihova uobičajena upotreba lošeg jezika natjerala je nekoga da oklijeva u razmišljanju je li obrazovanje blagoslov kojem smo se svi nadali. "

Dana 13. marta, tri dana nakon osude, Udruženo inženjersko društvo objavilo je otvoreno pismo ministru unutrašnjih poslova koje je uključivalo sljedeće: "Zahtijevamo da se privede policijskim špijunima, prema čijim dokazima se sudi porodici Wheeldon kutiju za svjedoke, vjerujući da će u slučaju da to bude učinjeno doći novi dokazi koji će dati drugačiji izgled slučaju. "

Basil Thomson, zamjenik komesara gradske policije, također nije bio uvjeren u krivicu Alice Wheeldon i njene porodice. Thomson je kasnije rekao da je imao "nelagodan osjećaj da je i sam mogao djelovati kao ono što Francuzi nazivaju agent provokator - agent huškač - stavljajući ideju u žensku glavu, ili, ako je ideja već postojala, nudeći djeluje kao bacač pikado. "

Alice je poslana u zatvor u Aylesburyju gdje je započela kampanju nesaradnje s povremenim štrajkovima glađu. Jedan od ljekara u zatvoru izvijestio je da su se mnogi zatvorenici iskreno uplašili Alice za koju se činilo da "ima đavola" u sebi. Međutim, isti doktor je izvijestio da je i ona imala mnogo obožavatelja i da je nekoliko zatvorenika preobratila u svoje revolucionarne političke ideje.

Neki su se članovi javnosti protivili tome da je Alice Weeldon prisiljena jesti. Mary Bullar je pisala Herbertu Samuelu, ministru unutrašnjih poslova, i tvrdila: "Zar ne biste mogli odmah donijeti prijedlog zakona samo da kažete da se mora napustiti prisilno hranjenje - da će svi zatvorenici podjednako dobivati ​​obroke i da će s njima počivati jesti ih ili ne kako su odabrali - prisilno hranjenje izazvalo je negodovanje pa ih je jedva moglo odustati! "

Alice je premještena u zatvor Holloway. Kako je sada bila razdvojena od svoje kćeri, Winnie Mason, odlučila je započeti još jedan štrajk glađu. 27. prosinca 1917., dr. Wilfred Sass, zamjenik medicinskog službenika u Hollowayu, izvijestio je da se Aliceino stanje rapidno smanjuje: "Puls joj postaje sve ubrzan ... slabijeg volumena i prilično kolaps ... srčani tonovi su ubrzani. .. na vrhu srca. " Također je objavljeno da je rekla da će "umrijeti i da će uslijediti velika svađa i revolucija".

Winnie Mason je pisala svojoj majci tražeći od nje da odustane od štrajka glađu: "O mama, molim te nemoj umrijeti - to je jedino važno ... uvijek si bila borac, ali ova borba nije vrijedna tvoje smrti ... Oh Mama, za jedan tvoj poljubac! Oh, ozdravi, molim te, živi za sve nas opet. "

Dana 29. decembra David Lloyd George poslao je poruku Ministarstvu unutrašnjih poslova da je "primio nekoliko prijava u ime gospođe Wheeldon, te da ni u kom slučaju ne smije dozvoliti da umre u zatvoru." Herbert Samuel je oklijevao u poduzimanju radnji, ali prema službenim dokumentima: "On (Lloyd George) očito je to osjetio, sa stanovišta vlade, a posebno s obzirom na činjenicu da je on osoba koju je ona urotila za ubistvo , bilo je vrlo nepoželjno da ona umre u zatvoru. "

Alice je rečeno da će biti puštena iz zatvora zbog intervencije premijera. Ona je odgovorila: "Bilo je veoma velikodušno od njega ... dokazao se kao muškarac." 31. decembra Hettie Wheeldon odvela je majku u Derby.

Sylvia Pankhurst, piše u Radnički Dreadnought, tvrdio je da je Alice "srdačno ugostila pola tuceta drugih drugova u divnom staromodnom domaćinstvu, gdje je udobnost osigurana napornim radom i štedljivim rukovodstvom". Dodala je da je Alice bila prisiljena zatvoriti svoju radnju, ali da je "najbolje iskoristila situaciju koristeći izlog za uzgoj paradajza".

Kampanja se nastavila puštati Winnie Mason i Alfred Mason iz zatvora. Dana 26. januara 1919. objavljeno je da je paru dozvoljeno da izda licencu na zahtjev premijera Lloyda Georgea. "

Zdravlje Alice Wheeldon se nikada nije oporavilo od boravka u zatvoru. Umrla je od gripe 21. februara 1919. Na Alisinoj sahrani njen prijatelj John S. Clarke održao je govor koji je uključivao sljedeće: "Ona je bila socijalista i bila je neprijatelj, posebno, najdubljeg utjelovljenja nečovještva trenutno u Velikoj Britaniji - taj duh koji je inkarniran u osobi čije ime neću vrijeđati mrtve spominjanjem. On je bio taj koji je usred visokih državnih poslova iskoračio s puta da potera siromašnu opskurnu porodicu u tamnicu i u grob ... Dajemo vječno čuvanje Majke Zemlje, smrtnu prašinu siromašne i nevine žrtve sudskog ubistva. "

Mislim da je tako izmišljena optužba da me kaznite jer je moj momak prigovarač savjesti ... podigli ste neosnovanu optužbu zbog koje je išao u zatvor, a sada je otišao s puta kako mislite da ćete kazniti prođi kroz mene i ti ćeš to učiniti.

Kao poslovna žena dogovorila sam se s njim (Gordon) da ću mu, sa svoje strane, pomoći da izvuče prijatelje iz koncentracionog logora tako što će se riješiti pasa, pa će se pobrinuti za tri dječaka, mog sina, Masona i mladić po imenu MacDonald, kojeg sam zadržao, pobjeći.

Zahtijevamo da policijski špijuni, prema čijim dokazima se sudi porodici Wheeldon, budu stavljeni u kutiju za svjedoke, vjerujući da će u slučaju da se to učini, doći novi dokazi koji će dati drugačiji izgled slučaju.

Riza je izjavio da se veliki dio dokaza protiv njegovih klijenata zasniva na riječima i postupcima čovjeka koji nije ni stao pred sud da bi se suočio sa ispitivanjem.

Ona je bila socijalist i bila je neprijatelj, posebno, najdubljeg utjelovljenja nečovječnosti trenutno u Velikoj Britaniji - tog duha koji je inkarniran u osobi čije ime neću vrijeđati mrtve spominjanjem. Dajemo vječno čuvanje Majke Zemlje, smrtnu prašinu siromašne i nevine žrtve sudskog ubistva.

U ožujku 1917. britanski državni odvjetnik FE Smith vodio je tužbu protiv Alice Wheeldon (prodavačice rabljene odjeće), dviju njezinih kćeri (obje školske učiteljice) i njenog zeta (predavača hemije) za zavjera za ubistvo premijera Davida Lloyda Georgea. Navodno je pištolj sa kurareom trebao pucati na njega iz vazdušne puške dok je igrao golf.

Smith, odlučan u namjeri da dobije osuđujuću presudu, opisao je optužene sudijama u gradu Derby, u istočnoj Engleskoj, kao "bandu očajnih osoba zatrovanih revolucionarnim doktrinama i koje su imale potpuni i nerazumni prezir prema svojoj zemlji". Nakon izložbenog suđenja u Londonu kojim je predsjedavao otvoreno neprijateljski raspoložen sudac izražavajući patriotski žar, porota se povukla na pola sata i proglasila Alice, jednu kćerku i zeta krivim. Svi su osuđeni na dugotrajne kazne.

U to vrijeme postojao je tihi skepticizam, a iz objavljivanja zapisa MI5 osamdeset godina kasnije proizašlo je da su glavni dokazi protiv optuženog proizašli iz zarobljavanja i lažnih izjava agenta s evidencijom o oba zločina i dijagnosticiranog kriminalnog ludila. od strane tajne službe. Alice i njena porodica nisu krivi za zavjeru da nekoga povrijede, a kamoli ubiju.

Zašto je Smith bio tako nemilosrdan u svom ponašanju tužilaštva - do te mjere da je namjerno ignorisao, čak prikrio (uz popustljivost direktora javnog tužilaštva) sumnjivu prirodu dokaza? Alice i njezine kćeri bile su politički aktivne. Bile su to militantne sufražetkinje, otvorene feminističke socijalistkinje, pacifistice (ljute zbog britanskog odbijanja njemačke mirovne pogodbe), prijateljski nastrojene sa Sinn Féinerima i sindikalistima i aktivno uključene u mreže koje pomažu prigovaračima savjesti u bijegu u Irsku i Sjedinjene Države. Zet je bio slično sklon. Za vladu zabrinutu zbog sve većeg protivljenja ratu protiv Njemačke i implikacijama revolucionarnog razvoja u Rusiji, oni su bili "unutrašnji neprijatelj" - nepatriotski, subverzivni disidenti sa opasnim vezama.

Njihova sudbina bila je šokantan primjer onoga što se može dogoditi kada vlada, odlučna da vodi "pravilnu" politiku u nacionalnom interesu, da svojim obavještajnim agencijama slobodu i gazi prava pojedinaca, posebno pravo na neslaganje, na slobodu izražavanja i udruživanje i pravično suđenje. Smithu i njegovim kolegama iz ministarstva (i, nažalost, pravosuđu) ono što se dogodilo Alice i njezinoj porodici bilo je posljedica neslaganja u vrijeme nacionalne opasnosti. "Zaslužili" su ono što im se dogodilo. Nije bilo prvaka za vladavinu prava: njegov poraz bio je "kolateralna šteta".

Veoma velike žrtve u prvim sedmicama rata jasno su pokazale da je vjerovatno obavezno služenje vojnog roka. Godine 1915. osnovana je bespovratna stipendija (NCF). Zajednica je sadržavala mnoge pacifiste, posebno kvekere, koji su uspješno vodili kampanju za uključivanje klauzule savjesti u zakon o regrutaciji iz 1916. godine. Svaki sud je imao vojnog predstavnika sa pravom unakrsnog ispitivanja podnosilaca predstavke kako bi utvrdio njihovu iskrenost. Oni koji su mogli uvjeriti tribunal u svoje uvjerenje da je svaki oblik podrške ratu moralno pogrešan mogli su dobiti potpuno izuzeće. Oni koji su bili spremni obavljati civilne poslove koji bi druge pustili na ratni rok mogli su biti izuzeti pod uvjetom da su obavili taj posao. A oni koji su bili spremni da budu borci koji ne rade pod vojnim rukovodstvom, ali od njih nije bilo potrebno da koriste oružje, mogli su se na osnovu toga upisati u vojni registar.

Tribunali su, općenito, bili sastavljeni od članova, od kojih su neke bile žene sa sinovima ili muževima u aktivnoj službi, koje nisu imale simpatije prema prigovoru savjesti. Na ročištima su podnosioci predstavki često bili izloženi zloupotrebama iz javnih galerija. Poznato je da je Lytton Strachey bio jedan od onih koji su zlostavljani. Vrlo je malo dobiveno izuzeće, bilo uslovno ili potpuno. Većina ih je klasificirana kao neborci i uvrštena je u Neborbeni korpus, NCC (ili Bez korpusa hrabrosti kako ga je štampa nazvala), ili su u potpunosti odbijeni. Disciplina u NCC -u koju su nametnuli vojnici zaduženi za jedinice bila je oštra i odbijanje da se preuzme zadatak ili, posebno, nošenje uniforme rezultiralo je optužbom, ratnim sudom i zatvorom u teškim uslovima. Ubrzo su u bijegu bili brojni prigovarači savjesti, neki od njih su pobjegli iz tadašnjih logora. Mnogi od njih otišli su u podzemlje, a pomagale su im mreže sastavljene uglavnom od članova NCF-a, sufražetkinja, feminističkih i drugih socijalista, Sinn Feinera, upravitelja ljevičarskih radnji i pomoraca iz IWW-a.

Uprkos uobičajenim svakodnevnim zanimanjima, Alice Wheeldon i njezine dvije starije kćeri bile su politički aktivne: to su smatrale dijelom svoje građanske dužnosti. Alisin suprug, William, četrnaest godina stariji i pijanica sklona nasilju, ne bi imao ništa od toga, a njena najmlađa kći Nellie, razvijajući političku svijest, koncentrirala se na pomaganje majci u trgovini. Tri aktivistice bile su članice NCF -a i Socijalističke radničke partije, dugogodišnje militantne sufražetkinje (članice Ženske socijalne i političke unije), pacifistkinje i feminističke socijalistice. Hettie Wheeldon, također racionalistkinja, vjerovala je u besplatnu ljubav i pravo žene na kontrolu rađanja bilo kontracepcijom ili pobačajem. Poput mnogih sufražetkinja, bila je, s nekim opravdanjem, sumnjičava prema braku koji je smatrala institucijom koju su muškarci osmislili kako bi zacrtali njihovo pravo na posjedovanje i dominiranje ženama. To je nije spriječilo da se zaruči sa upravnikom deportirane trgovine Arthurom MacManusom kojeg je upoznala ili dok je pomagao da se pomuti stvar u Sheffieldu, ili dok je bio u bratskoj posjeti radnicima streljiva u Derbyju.

MacManus je, nakon što je otpušten iz Glasgowa, osigurao posao na brodskoj liniji Cunard u Liverpoolu i do kraja 1916. pomagao je u krijumčarenju dezertera i prigovarača savjesti preko Atlantika, ponekad preko Irske gdje je njegovo prijašnje prijateljstvo s Connollyjem (koji , koji je umro od svojih rana i vezan za stolicu, pogubljen streljanjem u Dablinu u aprilu 1916. godine zbog svoje uloge u uskršnjoj pobuni) osiguravajući mu dobre kontakte. Alisin jedini sin William bio je pacifist i pobožni socijalist i, odbijen od izuzeća od strane tribunala koji je saslušao njegovu prijavu, skrivao se čekajući pomoć da napusti zemlju od Hettieine zaručnice. Suprug njezine sestre Winnie, Arthur Mason, kemičar, također je bio pacifist i socijalist i očekivao je da će, iako je predavač, njegova molba za izuzeće na sličan način biti odbijena. S obzirom na njihovo porijeklo i veze sa NCF -om, ne čudi činjenica da je porodica Wheeldon bila aktivno angažirana u pomaganju pribjeglima savjesti izbjeglicama, što je bila nezakonita aktivnost, te je već neko vrijeme bila od interesa za vlasti.


Sećanje na Alice Wheeldon

Na današnji dan, 27. januara 1866. godine, rođena je sufražetkinja, socijalistička i antiratna aktivistica Alice Wheeldon.

Rođena kao Alice Anne Marshall, kći mašinovođe u Derbyshireu, mlada Alice je kao mlada radila u službi prije nego što se udala za svog supruga, Williama Augustusa Wheeldona, udovca, 1886. godine. Zajedno su imale tri kćeri, Nellie, Hettie i Winnie , kao i sina Willieja, i nastojali su im približiti socijalističke i pacifističke vrijednosti. Zajedno sa svojim kćerima, Alice je bila aktivna u okviru Društveno -političke unije žena (#8217) (WSPU) koja se zalagala za pravo glasa za žene#8217, sve do izbijanja Velikog rata kada se, ne slažući se oko podrške WSPU -a ratu i regrutacije, umjesto toga su se razišli kako bi se pridružili stipendiji bez vojne obaveze. Treba napomenuti da se Willie lično prijavio za oslobađanje od vojne službe kao prigovarač savjesti, ali je to odbijeno 1916.

Ubrzo su vlasti skrenule pažnju na rad porodice Wheeldon u suprotstavljanju ratu, uključujući njihovo sklonište od takvih ljudi,#8216 u bjekstvu ’ od regrutacije. U decembru 1916. godine čovjek po imenu Alexander Gordon stigao je u kuću Wheeldon. Tvrdeći da je prigovarač savjesti, Gordon je ispričao Alisi priču o logorima za interniranje pod nadzorom pasa čuvara, logorima u unutrašnjoj službi za pacifiste koji se protive regrutaciji, poput njega, i zatražio utočište za večer. Istina, Gordon je bio dva puta proglašen kriminalno ludim bivšim zatvorenikom Broadmoora osuđenim za ucjenu, koji se samo dvije godine nakon puštanja našao da radi za MI5. Počeo je predlagati Alice razrađenu shemu otrovanja pasa čuvara u zamjenu za siguran prolaz u tada neutralne Sjedinjene Američke Države. U želji da nastavi s ovim planom, Gordon je telefonom razgovarao s čovjekom za kojeg je tvrdio da je dezerter, ali koji je u stvari bio njegov voditelj MI5, Herbert Booth, i organizirao je paket s dvije bočice kurarea i dvije sa strihninom poslati na adresu Wheeldon.

Paket je zgodno presretnut, što je dovelo do hapšenja Alice, Hettie, Winnie i Winnieina supruga, Alfa Masona, 3. januara 1917. Negdje na samim linijama, plan o trovanju pasa čuvara počeo se spajati s potpuno izmišljenim zavjeru za atentat na liberalnog premijera Davida Lloyda Georgea i ministra kabineta laburista Arthura Hendersona. Alice Wheeldon, dvije njezine kćeri i njen zet bili su smješteni.

Žene iz Wheeldona u istražnom zatvoru, 1917.
S lijeva na desno zatvorska čuvarka, Hettie Wheeldon, Winnie Mason i Alice Wheeldon.

Suđenje je počelo u Old Baileyju 6. marta 1917. Predsjedavao je sam državni tužilac, FE Smith, koji je odbio pozvati Alexandera Gordona kao svjedoka, otkriti njegovo ime ili identificirati njegovo trenutno boravište, čime ga je poštedio unakrsnog ispitivanja od strane branioca Wheeldons -a. Istina je bila da je Gordon radio za podružnicu MI5 koja je bila suočena s potezom. U želji da ostane aktivna, podružnica je izmislila priču o izdaji u Derbyshireu. Kao središte municije od vitalnog značaja za ratne napore, takvo pobunjeničko uznemiravanje ozbiljno bi se uzelo u obzir i moralo bi se poništiti. Otpor Wheeldonsa prema regrutiranju, u kombinaciji s njihovim prisustvom u pokretu za glasanje, osigurao je da su oni prihvatljiva pomoć za ustanovu čiji bi ih državni tužilac prirodno proglasio krivim na suđenju. Alice je tako osuđena na deset godina zatvora,#Winnie na pet godina, a njen suprug Alfred na sedam. Hettie je imala više sreće jer je oslobođena svih optužbi.

Alice je prebačena iz Old Baileyja u zatvor u Aylesburyju gdje je započela štrajk glađu. Kasnije je preseljena u Holloway i nastavila s povremenim protestima, što je dovelo do pogoršanja zdravlja koje je kulminiralo njenom navodnom metom, Lloydom Georgeom, organizirajući njeno prijevremeno puštanje iz zatvora. Puštena na slobodu 31. decembra 1917. godine, Alice je bila sjenka svog bivšeg ja, njezinog zdravlja trajno narušenog zbog neostvarenja pravde, nepravedne zatvorske kazne i posljedica štrajka glađu. Winnie and Alfred were subsequently released at the end of the war presumably the establishment no longer saw any purpose in keeping them behind bars in peacetime. Extremely weak, Alice passed away of influenza during the great pandemic of 1919. At her funeral, her son Willie placed a red flag upon her coffin, whilst her friend, the conscientious objector John Smith Clarke, provided the eulogy. This was a great risk on Clarke’s behalf, as he himself was still wanted for arrest by the police for evading conscription. Her final resting place was unmarked, for fear of defacement.

In 1920, Hettie married the Belfast-born Scottish trade unionist Arthur MacManus, later to become the first chairman of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Tragically, in that same year, Hettie too passed away. Further misfortune struck Alice’s children when, on 5th October 1937, her son Willie was arrested in Russia. He had emigrated there in 1921, eventually taking Soviet citizenship, but he fell foul of the Stalinist purges sixteen years later. He was executed by the Cheka on Christmas Day, 1937.


Today in anti-war history, 1917: spycops’ fit-up! Alice Wheeldon & her daughters go on trial for ‘plot to murder’ Prime Minister Lloyd George.

“Alice Wheeldon and her family were commie scum
Denounced World War 1, sheltered deserters on the run
Fitted up by MI5, died from the prison damp –
You won’t see Alice’s head on a stamp!”
(‘Spycop Song’, Dr Feelshite)

If you thought that revelations of the last few years about undercover police officers infiltrating campaigning and political groups, trade unions, families of people killed by racist and the police (just a few examples), and in some cases acting as agent provocateurs, had been going on for just 50 years, since the founding of the Special Demonstration Squad, and was some kind of aberration from our democratic traditions – think again. In one form or another, this practice has been an integral part of policing dissent and controlling or disrupting movements for social change – for hundreds of years. It is literally the norm, not a deviation.

101 years ago today, Derby socialists and war resisters Alice Wheeldon, her daughters Hettie, Winnie and Winnie’s husband, Alfred Mason, went on trial at the Old Bailey, all charged with conspiracy to murder the Liberal Prime Minister Lloyd George and Labour Party cabinet minister Arthur Henderson.

In fact the supposed ‘plot’ was a fit up, set up by a spy working for the intelligence unit of the Ministry of Munitions.

Alice Wheeldon lived in Derby, with her four children Nell, Winnie, Hettie and Will the family were all active campaigners for many social issues of the time, notably women’s rights, pacifism and opposition to conscription. Alice and Hettie were activists for women’s suffrage, members of the Women’s Social & Political Union before World War 1, as well being involved in socialist propaganda. To make a living she sold second hand clothes in the market and later from a shop.

If enthusiastic support for the pointless carnage of the First World War was still by far the view of the majority of the population, opposition had grown over the previous two and a half years. The mass deaths, privations, hunger and hardships at home, forced conscription into the armed forces, as well as mass government repression, had sparked hatred and demoralisation, resentment, and resistance. Soldiers were passively and actively avoiding combat and would soon by mutinying strikes were multiplying, organised by grassroots shop stewards movements, (as the trade union leaders mostly supported the ban on workplace struggles during wartime) food riots and rent strikes had broken out in 1915 and 1916. And refusal to be conscripted, resistance and draft-dodging, had given birth to underground networks of war resisters, mostly young men on the run from the authorities, often sheltered by sympathetic pacifists, socialists and anarchists. A plethora of organisations – the No Conscription Fellowship, the Socialist Labour Party, British Socialist Party, the Industrial Workers of the World, parts of the Union of Democratic Control, the North London Herald League, Sylvia Pankhurst’s East London Federation of Suffragettes (later the Workers’ Socialist Federation) in East London parts of the Independent Labour Party, the Women’s Freedom League, the shop stewards’ networks among industrial workers anarchist groups and christian pacifists… and so many more…

The government feared all these movements were linked, and to some extent there were rebel networks, with loose origins in the workers’ movements that had erupted before the war, the militant suffragettes who had rejected jingoism when war broke out, and the leftwing political groups who denounced the war on internationalist grounds. From the outside it could also appear that this opposition could link up to wider discontent among the ‘general population’, and that a serious rebellious threat could arise to the war effort and even to the state and the vast capitalist interests that had needed the war.

The government was determined to disrupt and discredit the growing opponents of the war, and pretty much allowed the secret state to operate freely, with carte blanche to use whatever methods seemed necessary. The press was already happy to trumpet that strikers, pacifists, etc were passively doing ‘the Kaiser’s work’, if not actually being paid by Germany the more evidence could be drummed up that honest and peaceful opposition to the conflict was in fact a cover for more sinister, treasonous and violent intent, the more potential support for opposition they thought could be warded off.

The Ministry of Munitions Intelligence Unit, a branch of an organisation that was to partly evolve into MI5, faced with an immediate threat of being dismantled, conceived a strategy of discovering a treasonable plot in Derby, which with its munitions factories, was a heartland of Britain’s war effort.

The Wheeldons were on the one hand a typical anti-war family with William Wheeldon and Alf Mason (Winnie’s husband) both facing conscription, (William was an anarchist ‘absolutist’ conscientious objector), and all of the family including Alice’s sons-in-law were heavily involved in both overt and underground resistance: in the above ground activities of the No Conscription Fellowship, but also in hiding men on the run, helping them escape the country in some cases. They sat also in the middle of the networks the authorities and military intelligence and Special Branch had in their sights: Arthur MacManus, (then ‘courting’ Alice’s daughter Hettie, and a friend of her son William), was heavily involved in the shop stewards meetings and planning class struggle in the factories, particularly in nearby Sheffield, the stronghold of the shop stewards committees since the pioneering Glasgow stewards had been largely broken up by arrest and repression in 1916. Their friends and comrades spread across the midlands and the north of England.

An MI5 agent, using the name Alex Gordon, and posing as a conscientious objector on the run from the authorities. He had turned up in Sheffield, just as 10-12,000 skilled engineers and other workers came out on strike against the conscription of a fitter, Leonard Hargreaves, at Vickers plant there, in what appeared to be a case of the employers breaking agreements with the unions to not force certain grades into the army. The strike terrified the government, who backed down and released Hargreaves. (It’s worth noting that bitter divisions were opening up in the working class, as unions representing skilled workers were prepared to strike over such actions, but less skilled workers were often not supported.) ‘Gordon’ was not the only spy around – several other ministry of munitions agents were reporting on the strike, the socialists and other workers opposing the war in Sheffield and nearby towns. The reports of the spies tended to focus on prominent individuals like the Sheffield shop stewards activist and later communist theorist, J. T. Murphy, Arthur MacManus, and others, as being largely responsible for anti-war and workers agitation – missing the point that both movements were made up of grassroots networks based on daily grievances and built horizontally, not hierarchically. But the spies fed into their handlers view that taking out some of the prominent faces would crush the movements entirely.

Alex Gordon was really Francis Vivian, who had been involved in the British Socialist Party before the war, so may have been known (if only by repute) to some of his targets, building trust. He moved across to Derby, in late 1916, supervised by another spy, known as Herbert Booth, who reported to Major Melville Lee at the Ministry of Munitions. Booth and Gordon seem to have played on the Wheeldon family’s angry desire to strike back at the warmongering government they hated, and a plot was hatched, according to the Wheeldons later, to poison dogs guarding prison camps where arrested ‘conchies’ and war resisters were being held, so they could be helped to escape. However, Gordon and Booth presented the poison, which was ordered, as evidence of a plot to poison the new Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. They reported a succession of conversations, a mix of invented and real talk, no doubt, of threats and plans to off the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleague, Labour’s Arthur Henderson, who was widely vilified by anti-war socialists as well as unnamed others.

Alice Wheeldon, Hettie Wheeldon, her daughter Win Mason and Win’s husband Alf Mason were all arrested at the end of January 1917. William Wheeldon was picked up but managed to escape and disappeared.

The four were tried at the Old Bailey with the Attorney General, the trial beginning on March 6th 1917 future Lord Chancellor, the rightwing politician F.E. Smith leading the prosecution. The legal profession was apparently leant on heavily not to defend them, and the lawyers who did were not very effective. The accused were brow-beaten and their case was not really presented the dice were loaded against them. The government were determined to use them as a example. Whether or not the spies’ superiors believed the plot was real, or their political bosses really feared for their lives, the trial was a useful weapon to beat the anti-war movement with, at least to split moderate critics of the war from the more radical elements.

Gordon was not present to testify in the trial so the defence could not cross-examine him on his evidence. The court proceedings show that the evidence was flimsy and that the intention of the prosecution was to publicly destroy the reputations of the accused and then to convict them on that basis.

Hettie Wheeldon was acquitted but the others were sentenced to varying prison terms and their application to appeal was refused. Alice received ten years imprisonment, Alf Mason seven years, Winnie five years.

Alice went on hunger strikes in Aylesbury Prison, which severely affected her health. Conditions inside were harsh and she was over fifty. Given her failing health and officialdom’s fear that she might die in prison, which could rebound badly on them, she served less than one year of her 10-year sentence. Doubts had also started to arise about the trial and the authorities may have thought these questions would settle if she was quietly let out. From Holloway Prison she was released on licence at the instigation of the Prime Minister – the same Prime Minister she was accused of conspiracy to murder. Her daughters Nellie and Hettie accompanied her back to Derby, but her life was made impossibly hard. She was ostracised by many neighbours, and her clothes business was ruined. She and Hettie (who had lost her job as a teacher despite her acquittal) tried to grow and sell veg to survive. They tried to pick up their political activism, re-establishing links with some of the comrades. But both Hettie and Alice caught the flu in the terrible 1918-19 epidemic that struck at a weakened population after the war, and for Alice, worn out by prison, it was fatal. She died in February 1919.

Win and Alf Mason were released unexpectedly at the end of the war, having also gone on hunger strike. After their release, in 1919, Winnie and Alf moved to London where they lived for a number of years with Winnie’s other siblings. Eventually they moved to Hampshire where Winnie was noted for raising awareness of the rise of Fascism. In 1949, they shifted to Welwyn Garden City where Alf had built a modern house in the new town. Win was diagnosed with lung cancer and died there in 1953 Alf died in 1963.

Hettie married Arthur MacManus, in 1920 and they had a stillborn child, but she died from peritonitis following on from appendicitis the same year. Arthur became a leading member of the new Communist Party of Great Britain (Alice’s other daughter Nellie also became a CPGB activist). William Wheeldon’s story is perhaps the most poignant in the story of the anti-war movement, in Britain and internationally, and where it ended he became a communist, moved to the Soviet Union and made there, believing in and working for the Soviet project for many years, Until Stalin had him arrested and shot in the purges in 1937, where he was forced to falsely confess to being a longtime British spy.

A hundred years after the frame-up of Alice and her family, after the profit-ridden carcass-fest of World War I, there is a campaign growing to remember the Wheeldons and the Masons. Derby people and the family have long been convinced that the impact of these outrageous charges has reverberated down the generations. Now Deirdre and Chloë Mason, great grand-daughters of Alice Wheeldon and the grand-daughters of Alf and Win Mason, are seeking to clear their ancestors names so history will record that this was a miscarriage of justice…

A plaque was placed on Alice’s shop in Derby a couple of years ago to mark the plot.

Sheila Bowbotham’s excellent history/drama crossover, ‘Friends of Alice Wheeldon’ is a great book, and worth reading if you can get hold of it.

The machinations of the secret state that backed the fit-up of the Wheeldon family is complex and we would like to write about it, especially given the relevance of spies infiltrating movements for social change to our own time. This will have to wait for another time but sufficient to say, spies sponsored by both Special Branch and the Ministry of Munitions Intelligence Unit were both operating against socialists, strikers, anti-war activists. But they were also competing against each other for influence, and reported to rival power centres in government. The spies themselves were part fantasists, part telling their handler what they wanted to hear, and part freelance self-interested opportunists. Some of them experienced half-regret for their actions: ‘Alex Gordon’ aka Francis Vivian attempted in some bizarre way to re-ingratiate himself with socialists after the trial, part-justifying and part apologising for his part in it. This dynamic is familiar to those of us targetted by modern spycops, some of who have publicly blown the whistle on their former bosses, some of who have returned to friends and lovers after their deployment ended, torn between their ‘job’ and the attraction of the life of rebellion and love that our movements at their best are capable of… But many more hide behind the walls built by the police and secret state, fearing exposure, claiming they are afraid of our revenge, or more honestly, the embarrassment of people they now finding out the glorious war they fought against environmentalists and families of racist murder victims, while deceiving women into sex.

As a heavily restrictive Inquiry into Undercover Policing attempts to cover up most of the history of political spying of the last half century, under the guise of pretending to uncover it, some of those spied on are attempting to push for as much information on those who spied on us and those who controlled them as we can get. Results so far are not encouraging most of the names revealed so far have been brought into the open by us.

For more information about current campaigning vs undercover policing, check out:

The massive potential of the rising anti-war movement, the rebel networks of which Alice and all her family and friends were part of, was in the end broken, partly by the repression of the state, both open and secret, But also by the divisions of the movements themselves. The shop stewards movement launched strikes in 1917, but they were crippled by the splits between skilled and unskilled workers. The coagulating brilliant links that the conchies, suffragists, socialists and the class-conscious workers were forging did produce the Leeds Convention in June 1917, influenced and cheered by the Russian Revolution, attempting to unite trade unions and protest against the war. But it allowed itself to be dominated by the Labour Party and union leaders, who helped to derail its revolutionary potential. The powerful links developing through the war did continue to grow, and produced massive strikes in 1919, which in parallel with mutinies in the army could have led to a more fundamental social change – but was sold out by unions leaders, and hamstrung by people’s own doubts and lack of desire to push forward.

This post could have covered much more of this interesting period and the fascinating people and groups evolving at this time, and resisting the capitalist war machine with heroic but grounded love for each other, as well as clear-sighted hatred for the classes that profited from the slaughter.

Across the years we salute Alice, William and Hettie Wheeldon, Win and Alf Mason, their friends and comrades, and the movements they played a part in. If the world they hoped to build has not yet come about – tremble on your thrones, powers of the earth! Just you wait, you bankers!


Moirai – Framed: The Alice Wheeldon Story

Moirai – Framed: The Alice Wheeldon Story

Wild Goose – Out Now

M oirai – literally, “spinners of destiny” – comprises Jo Freya, Mel Biggs and Sarah Matthews, three very talented women with a considerable reputation in the folk world. And exceptional singers each one, while instrumentally Jo is a woodwind specialist (clarinet/sax/whistle) best known for her membership of Blowzabella Melanie is an exceptional melodeonist and is considered a leading light in the world of melodeon teaching, and Sarah is a superb violin player teamed up with Doug Eunson and the band Cupola. Together they are a (refreshingly guitar-less) force to be reckoned with, delivering a very special and distinctive blend of timbres.

Following in the wake of a pair of eminently satisfying CDs – Bočno (2015) and Here And Now (2017) – their latest project might be regarded as a full-blown concept album, in that its songs together tell a particular story. This concerns the plot to murder the then-Prime-Minister David Lloyd George and the Labour Party chairman Arthur Henderson, in 1917: a fantastical plot for which Alice Wheeldon, a strong socialist and staunch peace activist, was framed – both to demonise the peace movement generally and in an attempt to silence any anti-war sentiments considered detrimental to the war effort. A big show trial was held, surrounded by massive publicity, and as a result, Alice and her daughter and son-in-law were imprisoned for conspiracy. Alice went on hunger strike to protest her innocence, was released on licence and died in 1919. And today the campaign to clear the names of Alice and her relatives for this miscarriage of justice is being well supported, and this new Moirai CD will help greatly in raising awareness of Alice’s story.

The impetus for this project came from Sarah, who initially discovered Alice’s story and was inspired to put together this collection of songs. It tells Alice’s story from the viewpoints of various characters as well as presenting a contemporary perspective on the events and issues raised by the injustice, all of which amounts to a conspiracy by the Establishment that seems never to have been acknowledged let alone atoned for.

The vast majority of the album’s songs are original compositions by Moirai members and are suitably idiomatically crafted, predominantly within the area that straddles folk and popular/music-hall-style song and invariably with a keen sense of melody and rhythm with lyrics that combine nostalgia and realism with a thoroughly genuine feeling for, and understanding of, the plight of the protagonists. The Prologue explains the circumstances in which Sarah came across and became inspired by Alice, a common connection having been identified with her family and Derby where she lived and worked. This leads swiftly on to the historical and political context into which Alice stepped, a depiction of the complex range of views that abounded at the time, by means of an inventive conflagration by Jo Freya of three differing sets of lyrics and melodies for the American anti-war song I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier (this was an influential ditty within the pacifist movement that existed in the USA before it entered WW1). Jo then takes on board the involvement of Alice and her three daughters in this movement through the Clarion Cycling Club (the breezy Bottom Up!), before Sarah returns for My Door Is Always Open, a character sketch of Alice herself, a lady of true compassion and principle, which is succeeded by a delectable, if not entirely simple, eight-time waltz tune. A Harry Champion music-hall song forms part of the melodic basis for Proper Gander, an expression of the idealistic lifestyle that Alice and her family (quite reasonably) strived for.

The specifics of the UK political situation then come into focus on the hard-hitting DORA Is Here For You (DORA being the Defence Of The Realm Act, the introduction of which in 1914 had provided a convenient excuse for the government’s persecution of Alice and her family). The mechanism by which this was done, the deployment of an undercover agent working for MI5 for the purpose of manipulation, is related in Perfect Puppet and, after an instrumental interlude, Poison Plot. The latter, by being sung a cappella, enables a bitter, emotionally edgy expression of the entrapment (to especially powerful lyrics here by Jo). Then follows Courtroom Scene, an animated account of the judicial proceedings where it was immediately obvious that the cards were stacked against Alice, and an instrumental piece in an uneven seven-time signature (an ingenious use of an eastern-European-flavoured dance mode) representing Alice’s discomfort, confusion and unsettled feelings.

Sarah then gives us Letter From Hettie to Aunt Lid, based on the words written by Alice’s daughter Hettie (from within prison) to a close family friend sung to a bleak viola drone, this is an emotional highpoint of the sequence. A subsequent letter from Alice’s youngest daughter Win then forms the inspiration for Win To Hett, a charming and sensitive melodic interlude, before Alice The Soldier (reminiscing on the above-referenced WW1 song) reflects on her situation in prison and her worries for her boy Will and others left “out there”. Her emotions finally rise to anger and frustration on the feisty, defiant What Am I Here For?.

The family’s post-1919 events are chronicled in Round Up, after which we experience Win’s emotional outpouring at Hettie’s death through Jo’s piece Hettie’s Now With Mam. The album’s final song, Ivy And Tulips, though ostensibly written about Alice’s funeral, serves as a fitting celebration of Alice’s life and legacy.

Moirai’s three singers are ideally appointed to convey the range of emotions for this story the unjustly-maligned Alice herself is especially sympathetically portrayed and characterised both in the performances and the fine original songwriting. The impeccably judged instrumental backdrops – principally fiddle, melodeon and clarinet/sax – provide a gentle texturing and “period” ambience that’s just right too. And Doug Bailey’s excellent house-standard WildGoose production demonstrates a high degree of intuitive rapport between artists and producer/engineer. The album’s presentation is also worthy of special mention – the booklet (design by Mel herself) includes much essential background information as well as a plethora of photographs.

Framed is a fascinating, moving and extremely well-researched insight into a little-known chapter in the history of the peace movement in the UK, the continuing relevance of which in today’s political climate cannot be denied. A very impressive achievement.

All albums featured on Folk Radio are independently selected by our editor. However, when you buy something through our purchase links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Friends of Alice Wheeldon: The Anti-War Activist Accused of Plotting to Kill Lloyd George

In early 1917, as Britain was bogged down in a war it feared would never end, Alice Wheeldon, her two daughters, and her son were brought to trial and imprisoned for plotting the assassination of Prime Minister Lloyd George, who they believed had betrayed the suffrage movement. In this highly evocative and haunting play, British historian and feminist Sheila Rowbotham illuminates the lives and struggles of those who opposed the war. The Wheeldons’ controversial trial became something of a cause célèbre—a show trial at the height of the First World War—based on fabricated evidence from a criminally insane fantasist, “Alex Gordon,” who was working for an undercover intelligence agency. It was a travesty of justice. Friends of Alice Wheeldon is combined here with Rowbotham’s extended essay, “Rebel Networks in the First World War,” that gives a historical overview of the political and social forces that converged upon the Wheeldon family and friends.

First published nearly thirty years ago, this new edition points readers to subsequent research into the case and the ongoing campaign to clear Alice Wheeldon’s name. It offers a necessary corrective to the more triumphalist commemorations of the First World War.

Wonderful, moving, and important.

—Adam Hochschild, author, To End All Wars

The labyrinthine connections of the time between suffragists, shop stewards, anarchists, Marxists, the Independent Labour Party, the Socialist Labour Party, and a rich variety of anti-war protesters have never been more brightly illuminated.

Sheila Rowbotham is an influential socialist feminist writer and author of Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love i Dreamers of a New Day: Women Who Invented the Twentieth Century, among many other titles.


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Donate to the Socialist Party

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.


Alice Wheeldon campaigners hold Royal Courts of Justice vigil

Alice Wheeldon was convicted 100 years ago, on 11 March 1917, of planning to kill Lloyd George as she opposed World War One.

Two of her great-granddaughters came from Australia for the vigil.

One has cancer and says she is battling against time to clear her name.

Deirdre Mason said: "Get on with it, finish it, sort it out and I will be happier.

"It has been a 100-year injustice. Even now it is worthwhile repealing it, quashing the convictions and showing British justice has some integrity."

Deirdre and her sister Chloe Mason are pushing to have a submission to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which will decide whether the case can go before the Court of Appeal.

They want to clear the names of Mrs Wheeldon, her daughter Winnie Mason and son-in-law Alfred Mason, who were all convicted of conspiracy to murder.

Mrs Wheeldon was a shopkeeper in Derby but had become the focus of government attention, along with her four children, because of their anti-war activities.

A man called Alex Gordon pretended to sympathise with them, but he was an MI5 spy who claimed they were plotting to kill Lloyd George with a poisoned dart.

Campaigners claim the evidence was fabricated in order to discredit the family and the anti-war movement, and that the MI5 agent was known for mental instability and dishonesty.

Laurence Marshall, Mrs Wheeldon's great-great-great-nephew, said: "I know we say the past is another country but even then a court case like that should never have been allowed.

"She should never have been put to trial in the first place."

Mrs Wheeldon went on hunger strike and served only nine months of a 10-year sentence.

However, the family were social pariahs and Mrs Wheeldon died in 1919.

Liz Smith, whose grandmother knew Alice, was among those attending the vigil.

"My grandmother used to take food to her after dark because there was a lot of hatred in Derby for the Wheeldons," she said.

"People were very fearful of being seen to help them out, but she did go and help them out."


Left redundant

Od Socialist Worker Review, No. 89, July/August 1986, pp.㺟󈞌.
Transcribed by Christian Høgsbjerg.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the On-line enciklopedija trockizma (ETOL).

Friends of Alice Wheeldon
Sheila Rowbotham
Pluto Press ٢.95

ALICE WHEELDON was sentenced to ten years hard labour in early 1917 for allegedly plotting to kill Lloyd George by poisoning him.

She, along with her daughter and son-in-law, served two years of their sentences, being released as an ‘act of clemency’.

But Alice Wheeldon did not live long. Suffering the effects of ill-treatment in prison, she died in early 1919 from a fatal dose of the flu.

Sheila Rowbotham, in her book, attempts to trace the history of the Derby socialist feminist and to establish the political milieu in which she operated.

In doing so Rowbotham conveys, although often disjointedly, the various trends, theories and practices within the labour movement at the time Britain was plunged into the First World War.

This was a period when hundreds of thousands of workers throughout Britain defied the patriotic calls of their rulers by striking and demonstrating to defend their hard-fought-for conditions. In the early part of her book Rowbotham manages to express, with some feeling, the existence of a mood to challenge and change.

In delving into Alice Wheeldon’s background we find a whole range of people challenging the status quo. Suffragettes, pacifists, Irish Republicans, socialists and syndicalists all combine in an alliance against the state.

But Rowbotham denies us any real insight into why these strands, and the strength of feeling against the system, did not combine and converge into creating a new society.

The book would have been strengthened by having a serious examination of the difference between the British Socialist Party and the Socialist Labour Party. [1] A critical analysis of what the divorce between economics and politics meant, not only in organising revolutionary opposition during the war, but also for the tasks facing the Communist Party – which united almost every militant throughout the country in 1921.

Instead the British Socialist Party is largely ignored, the formation of the Communist Party glossed over and the Russian Revolution almost scorned at.

This does not stop her spending most of the book berating today’s revolutionaries, mostly those of us who identify with the aims and objectives of the Russian Revolution and Leninist forms of organisation.

For Rowbotham socialism is about developing new forms of relationships, of having a ‘wider vision’ of a new society. Moreover she identifies the period as one in which ‘the making of socialism involved change in the here and now . The socialist tradition never abandoned such concerns, but they ceased to be central and passionate and vehement. So we have to labour to reconstruct socialism as a vision of freedom.’

The problem of the ‘left’, according to Rowbotham, is the inability to see how both Labourism and Communism (presumably the traditions of the Russian Revolution) are redundant forces because ‘neither strategy led socialists to put detailed thought into how the existing state was to be dismantled and socialised’.

So what are these alternatives? They are ‘about extending the experience of democracy, not just about voting the Labour Party in or seizing state power through revolution’. In other words, building co-operative movements, campaigns for childcare facilities etc. and putting demands on the state in the here and now. Not as a step towards getting rid of this system, but as a means of reforming it from within.

Rowbotham’s book may talk of revolution – but it is only talk. Her revolutionary politics are confined to rhetoric while her reformism shines through like a blinding light.

Note by ETOL

1. In the printed version this is “Scottish Labour Party”, but in the context “Socialist Labour Party” makes more sense.


Justice For Alice Wheeldon!

In 1917, socialist, feminist and anti-war activist, Alice Wheeldon, her daughter Winnie and husband Alf Mason were given long prison sentences for supposedly plotting to kill the Prime Minister Lloyd George and Arthur Henderson, the leader of the Labour Party. The evidence was flimsy, their accuser an MI5 agent provocateur so dubious the prosecution kept him away from the trial. It was a time when Britons were increasingly vocal in their opposition to the continuing and pointless carnage of the First World War and there was growing resistance to conscription. The British state inspired the plot against the Wheeldon family in order to discredit the anti-war movement and to keep the populace focused on sending their sons and husbands to the trenches.

Right – left: Alice Wheeldon, Winnie Mason, Hettie Wheeldon and a guard, taken when on remand in 1917

Chloe Mason, the great granddaughter of Alice Wheeldon, is leading a campaign to have the case recognised as a miscarriage of justice and to clear the names of Alice and other family members. Sheila Rowbotham, renowned historian and feminist, has recently authored a new edition of her classic The Friends of Alice Wheeldon which presents her continuing research into the case. Sheila and Chloe will discuss the new evidence they have uncovered, the issues it raises and its bearing on the ongoing campaign.

Sheila Rowbotham’s books have been translated into many languages and her early works are currently being reissued as classic texts of feminism. She is an Honorary Fellow in Social Science at Manchester University. Her recent work includes Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love (Verso, 2008) winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/ Biography 2008 in the US and shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in the UK and Dreamers of a New Day: Women who Invented the Twentieth Century (Verso, 2010). She contributed ‘Alice Wheeldon Revisited’ to Mary Davis (ed.), Class and Gender in British Labour History (Merlin, 2011).


Pogledajte video: Christopher Wheeldon rehearses Alices Adventures in Wonderland - Royal Ballet LIVE


Komentari:

  1. Gil

    Mislim da bi bilo vrijedno istaknuti neke tačke i reći detaljnije ..

  2. Vitilar

    Kakva potrebna fraza... Fenomenalna ideja, odlično

  3. Mazukus

    Kakav šarmantan odgovor

  4. Tosar

    Ova fraza je neuporediva)))



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