4/6/1918 Pemberton Billing wins “Cult of the Clitoris” libel trial #1918Live

Noel Pemberton Billing, MP and patriotic publisher, is being sued for libel by Maud Allan, an actress and exotic dancer. Pemberton Billing had already asserted that 47,000 British sexual deviants in prominent positions are being blackmailed by the Germans to sabotage the war effort. Then in his journal The Vigilante Pemberton Billing published a further article entitled ‘The Cult of the Clitoris‘, asserting that a Miss Allan’s private performance of Oscar Wilde’s Salome is a front for meetings of some of these 47,000 treacherous practitioners of unnatural vice.

Pemberton Billing defends himself at the libel trial. Proceedings at times become farcical. Pemberton Billing has claimed the existence of a Black Book listing all 47,000 of the degenerates being blackmailed by Berlin. It is somehow impossible to produce a copy of this book, despite the fact that numerous persons claim to have seen it. Eileen Villiers-Stuart, called as a witness in Pemberton Billing’s favour, asserts that listed in the Black Book are none other than Herbert Asquith, the former prime minister, as well as his wife, Margot (whom Pemberton Billing has previously accused of being Miss Allan’s lover). When the presiding judge orders Villers-Stuart to leave the witness box, she retorts that his own name is also included in the Black Book. Another witness makes much of Miss Allan’s decision to perform Oscar Wilde’s degenerate play on the Sabbath.

Pemberton Billing gains from the atmosphere of crisis engendered by Germany’s offensives in France. Today the trial ends; Pemberton Billing is cleared on all points. He receives a standing ovation from the court’s public gallery and then from a patriotic crowd gathered outside the court.
In some respects the trial is reminiscent of Mata Hari‘s conviction in France last year on espionage charges. Maud Allan has lost her case but she is perhaps lucky that she is not sent to the firing squad as a scapegoat for military failures.

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Noel Pemberton Billing (Wikipedia)

Maud Allan (Socialist Review: Homophobia in the First World War)

see also: Noel Pemberton Billing (Spartacus Educational)

30/4/1918 The former Tsar arrives in the House of Special Designation #1918Live

Before the revolution the Tsar wielded absolute power in Russia, at least in theory. His life and that of his family was one of gilded luxury. After his abdication the imperial family were held in conditions of genteel house arrest, continuing to enjoy privileges undreamt of by their former subjects. However the Tsar remained deeply unpopular with the revolutionary public and there were fears for his life if he remained in Russia. During his premiership, Kerensky tried unsuccessfully to arrange for the Tsar to go abroad into exile. However a tentative offer of asylum in Britain was withdrawn following objections by King George V, who feared that his cousin’s arrival would ignite revolutionary sentiment. Other countries declined to take the Tsar for their own reasons.

To protect them from the Petrograd workers, Kerensky moved the imperial family to Tobolsk in Siberia, where they continued to live in comfortable conditions. However, since the October Revolution the situation of the imperial family has deteriorated. They have been denied luxuries and put on more basic rations. Their guards have become more surly. There is increased talk of putting the Tsar on trial.

In truth, the Bolsheviks are not sure what to do with the Tsar. Trotsky favours a show trial in Moscow, with himself as the prosecutor; others are not so sure. In the meantime the Tsar and Tsarina are transferred to a new place of incarceration in Ekaterinburg. They arrive today and are greeted by an angry mob before being taken to the House of Special Designation, the commandeered home of a local businessman. Their son and daughters will join them later.

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Tsar Nicholas II in the early stages of his captivity (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

The House of Special Designation (Wikipedia)

1/4/1918 Britain forms the RAF, the world’s first independent air force #1918Live

At the start of the war, aeroplanes were still something of a novelty, their role in warfare unclear. Since then they have proved their mettle, both in an observation role and increasingly in the attacking of enemy troops and positions on the ground. Both sides are also making efforts to use aircraft in a strategic role, attacking enemy cities and centres of production. Germany is using both aeroplanes and Zeppelin airships in this role but the British too have had a crack at bombing German factories, to limited success.

In recognition of the increasingly important role air power is playing in the war, Britain now takes the novel step of creating a single unified air force, independent of the army and navy from which it is taking aeroplane squadrons. The British hope that his new organisation, the Royal Air Force, will allow them to more effectively use the power of the aeroplane to prosecute the war to victory.

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Join the Royal Air Force (History Things: On this Day, April 1st)

16/2/1918 “The Cult of the Clitoris”: a sinister plot revealed #1918Live

Independent MP Noel Pemberton Billing shocked Britain when he revealed that the war effort was being sabotaged by 47,000 sexual deviants who were being blackmailed by the Kaiser. Today his renamed newspaper, The Vigilante, publishes further sensational revelations. In an article entitled ‘The Cult of the Clitoris’, Pemberton Billing reports on private performances of Oscar Wilde’s banned play Salome scheduled for April, in which the Canadian actress Maud Allan will play the title role. It is stated that the audience for this production will comprise leading members of the sinister 47,000. Furthermore he suggests that a clique of lesbians are conspiring to secure German victory and implies that Maud Allan is herself the lover of Margot Asquith, wife of the former prime minister.

The article causes a sensation, particularly as many readers were previously unaware of the existence of this mysterious clitoris. Miss Allan however prepares to sue Pemberton Billing for his libellous and unsupported allegation against her.

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Noel Pemberton Billing (Spartacus Educational)

Maud Allan as Salome (Wikipedia)

6/2/1918 Votes for (some) British women and all British men

A series of Reform Acts in the Nineteenth Century greatly widened the franchise in Britain. This transformed politics, making it far less of a game played by elites and forcing politicians to pay some attention to the concerns of ordinary people. But the Reform Acts still left large numbers of people without the vote. All women remained disenfranchised, as did the 40% of men over 21 who did not meet property requirements.

Before the war there had been an upsurge in campaigning to widen the franchise, particularly to obtain women’s suffrage. The suffragettes attracted much attention with their radical and sometimes violent campaign. The force-feeding of imprisoned suffragettes who were refusing food shocked many across the country.

At the start of the war, the suffragettes largely halted their militant campaign. The government in turn released all suffragette prisoners. Many of the campaigners for women’s suffrage now became vocal supporters of the British war effort.

The terrible sacrifices endured by the men serving in the army have led to a sea-change in British political opinion: it no longer seems reasonable that so many men are being killed or injured for their country but are unable to vote in its elections. Likewise the work of women at home in jobs that had previously been the domain only of men has forced a reappraisal of their potential role in society.

As a result, Parliament has passed a Bill greatly widening the franchise, which today comes into law as the Representation of the People Act. Now all British and Irish men over the age of 21 will have the vote and so will women over the age of 30 who meet certain property qualifications. So women are not yet able to vote on an equal basis to men, but the reform has nevertheless given the vote to millions of them.

The United Kingdom is long overdue an election, with the last one taking place in 1912, but the next one will not take place until the war is over. Given that the war is expected to continue until at least 1919, it will be some time before the newly enfranchised are able to exercise their democratic rights.

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Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst, leading suffragettes (Wikipedia)

Suffragette poster opposing force feeding (Wikipedia)

Pre-war Suffragette poster opposing the Liberal government (Wikipedia)

26/1/1918 REVEALED: the sexual deviants sabotaging Britain’s war effort #1918Live

As in other countries, a certain war-weariness has taken hold in Britain. Many feel that in 1914 they were promised a short and easy war but now after more than three years the conflict shows no sign of ending and the butcher’s bill continues to lengthen. 1917 was another terrible year for the British, with tens of thousands losing their lives for nothing at Passchendaele and the early successes of Cambrai being annulled by the German counter-attack.

Why has Britain not been able to bring the war to a victorious conclusion? Noel Pemberton Billing may have solved this conundrum. Pemberton Billing is an independent Member of Parliament and enthusiast for aerial warfare. He is also the publisher of The Imperialist, a patriotic periodical. Today in The Imperialist he makes some particularly shocking revelations. “There exists in the Cabinet Noir of a certain German Prince a book compiled by the Secret Service from reports of German agents who have infested this country for the past twenty years, agents so vile and spreading such debauchery and such lasciviousness as only German minds can conceive and only German bodies execute.” He goes on to state that in this sinister dossier the Germans have collected the names of 47,000 British sexual deviants, whose proclivities include but are not limited to unnatural vice. Most of these depraved individuals are members of Britain’s ruling elite and they are being blackmailed by the Germans to sabotage the British war effort.

Pemberton Billing presents his readers with a pen portrait of these 47,000 degenerates. “It is a most catholic miscellany. The names of Privy Councillors, youths of the chorus, wives of Cabinet Ministers, dancing girls, even Cabinet Ministers themselves, while diplomats, poets, bankers, editors, newspaper proprietors, members of His Majesty’s Household follow each other with no order of precedence.”

No proof is advanced for the existence of this secret dossier but Pemberton Billing’s article nevertheless causes a sensation.

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Noel Pemberton Billing (Wikipedia)

9/11/1917 The Balfour Declaration: Britain gives away Palestine #1917Live

British newspapers today carry reports of a letter sent a week ago by Arthur Balfour, the foreign minister, to Walter Rothschild, a leading member of the British Jewish community. In the letter Balfour states that the British government “view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” and promises that Britain will work to facilitate the achievement of this goal. British armies are currently advancing into Palestine, which means that it may soon be possible to deliver on Balfour’s promise.

Although written to a private individual, Balfour’s letter is intended for publication. Zionism, the idea that a Jewish homeland should be established in Palestine, has been attracting increasing support among members of the Jewish community across the world. The British hope that by declaring in favour of Zionism they will be able to boost Jewish support for the war effort in Britain and the USA. They also hope that this Jewish homeland will remain under effective British control, safeguarding the security of the Suez Canal and British interests in the Middle East.

Balfour’s declaration is only the latest in Britain’s promises regarding the disposal of Ottoman territories in the Middle East, following on from the Constantinople agreement with France and Russia, the promise to Sharif Hussein to establish an Arab state in greater Syria, and the Sykes-Picot agreement with France. Unlike the others, Balfour’s declaration has been made publicly.

As with the previous agreements, Balfour’s letter contains no suggestion that the current inhabitants of Palestine will have any say in the disposal of their territory. It does however say that the “civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” should be respected.

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The Balfour Declaration as reported in The Times (Wikipedia)

Arthur Balfour

Walter Rothschild in 1895