Women’s Peace Crusade

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Helen Crawfurd had been an enthusiastic member of the Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU), but had broken with that organisation in 1914 when its leadership abandoned the fight for the vote and enthusiastically supported the war effort – Helen was shocked at this volte face and hence together with her friend Agnes Dollen formed the Women’s Peace Crusade. This body campaigned throughout Scotland to end war and to oppose conscription when it was introduced in 1916. Crawfurd was also active in opposing the rent increases introduced early in the war especially for munitions workers. Together with Mary Barbour and others, they, supported by the Clyde Workers’ Committee, organised rent strikes. These strikes were so successful that the government was forced to intervene and, in 1915, passed the Rent Restriction Act. Mary Barbour was an active member of the ILP and was later adopted by that organisation as a candidate and duly elected for the Fairfield ward. She was later elected onto Glasgow City Council and became a Baillie and a Magistrate.(One of the very few women of her era to achieve such positions. She never forgot working class women and continued to campaign on their behalf.

By this time it was clear that Helen Crawfurd was moving to the left politically. She joined the Independent Labour Party in 1920, but after attending the Congress of the 3rd International she decided that the ILP was reformist and she left it to join the Communist Party.