The Derby is of course one of the blue riband horse races of the flat season; an event that attracts huge crowds and millions more television viewers. But during this election season, we remember the Derby for a very different reason. It was at the 1913 Derby that the suffragette, Emily Davison, threw herself in front of King George V’s horse, Anmer, and was killed as the horse unavoidably trampled her to the ground. Davison’s action was part of the Suffragette campaign to get women the vote.
Five years later and Davison, Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragette movement had achieved a form of universal suffrage as all men over 21 and women over 30 were given the vote. (10 years later this was changed to include all women over 21).
Davison’s bravery was remembered by Sheila Carson, the Labour candidate at the recent General Election, but it was the incumbent member of parliament for Epsom and Ewell, Chris Grayling, who will continue to represent the constituency after he increased his majority to 33,309 – up from the 30,868 he received in 2010.
Re-election for Grayling
Speaking after the results were posted, Grayling said it was an ‘enormous honour’ to be re-elected to serve the constituency. It is a post he has held for the past 14 years.
Grayling’s victory didn’t come as a surprise, in the hours leading up to the election, one of his opponents, Stephen Gee of the Liberal Democrats, said “Tonight’s race will be a scrap for second place.”
However, Grayling said he wasn’t expecting the increase in votes and was pleased to think the people of Epsom and Ewell had shown such faith. He promised to “continue to work to preserve services”, and he said he would continue the work to get Epsom into Zone 6 on the London Underground.
Commuters living in the area will be able to use the Oyster Card from autumn but, said Grayling, “there is still work to do in that area.”
Doing justice to the post
The past five years have seen Grayling serve in the Coalition government as Justice Secretary – a position that has brought him into sharp conflict with the legal profession – and he said that while he would be happy to take on whatever role was asked of him, taking control of the country’s justice system would be his preference.
He said: “I have been all over the country with this campaign and I come away with the overriding sense that we are making a difference.
“If you are a more prosperous place you can afford to provide better public services, education, health, the support for the needy and the things you need to be able to do.
“We want to continue to make Britain a better place, that’s what we’re all in politics for.”
The results of the poll saw Carson of the Labour Party scrape home in second place with 8,866 votes with UKIP’s Robert Leach receiving 7,117 votes. The Liberal Democrat candidate Stephen Gee received 5,002 votes.
After the result was announced Shelia Carson paid tribute to suffragette Emily Davison “She was a very brave lady whose actions ensured that I could stand here today,” said Carson in an emotional speech.