A hundred years ago, the British ruling class decided to extend the vote to women over thirty and to working class men. By doing this they hoped to restore people's faith in parliamentary government and thereby counter any revolutionary tendencies inspired by the Russian Revolution. As Sylvia Pankhurst said in 1923:
'The legal barriers to women's participation in Parliament and its elections were not removed until the movement to abolish Parliament altogether had received the strong encouragement of witnessing the overthrow of Parliamentary Government in Russia and the setting up of Soviets. ... The upholders of reaction ... were by no means oblivious to the growth of Sovietism when they decided to popularise the old Parliamentary machine by giving to some women both votes and the right to be elected. - Workers' Dreadnought, December 1923.
If anyone has any doubt about the counter-revolutionary nature of voting and parliamentary elections, here are some quotes from various parliamentarians in 1917:
'The line between order and revolution is as thin as it can be. ... [The extension of the vote] stands out as the one hopeful buffer between Govt. by Constitutional method and revolution.' - Lord Islington, Letter to Lord Curzon, January 1917.
'Is this House of Commons going to waste month after month ... with the sorry spectacle of wrangling over questions of franchise when these tremendously vital problems [of labour, women, industry etc.] are being fought outside? As a matter of fact, you will have revolution if you try that game.' - Ramsay Macdonald, Hansard, May 1917.
'It seems to me that to give women suffrage is to adopt a conservative measure which is likely to allay discontent, to promote justice, and to maintain the efficiency of the representative authority in Parliament.' - Lord Hugh Cecil, Hansard, June 1917.
'We do not grant the vote for fitness [i.e. that every voter is fit to understand every political consideration]; we grant it ... for the protection of the State, in order that through the ballot box the State may learn, from the organised opinion of those who have grievances and who desire their remedy, what those grievances are. I suggest that the vote is granted nowadays on no kind of fitness, but as a substitute for riot, revolution, and the rifle.' - Earl Russell, Hansard, December 1917.
'What is it in the example of Russia that we should not imitate? Not the fact that she has introduced manhood and womanhood suffrage, but that she did not do it in time. ''Too late,'' is a motto which may be found written over the victims of every revolution. We do not intend that it shall be found written over the ruins of this House.' - Earl of Lytton, Hansard, December 1917.
And if anyone has any doubt about the counter-revolutionary nature of the Labour Party - whoever leads it – here is another quote from Sylvia Pankurst:
'The social patriotic parties of reform, like the British Labour Party, are everywhere aiding the capitalists to maintain the capitalist system, ... are everywhere working against the Communist revolution, and they are more dangerous to it than the aggressive capitalists because the reforms they seek to introduce may keep the capitalist regime going for some time to come.
When the social patriotic reformists come into power, they fight to stave off the workers' revolution with as strong a determination as that displayed by the capitalists, and more effectively, because they understand the methods and tactics and something of the idealism of the working class. …
We must not dissipate our energy in adding to the strength of the Labour Party; its rise to power is inevitable. We must concentrate on making a Communist movement that will vanquish it. The Labour Party will soon be forming a Government; the revolutionary opposition must make ready to attack it.' – Workers' Dreadnought, February 1920.