In response to what the organisation viewed as brutal punishment and harsh treatment by the government at the time, imprisoned WSPU members embarked on a sustained campaign of hunger strikes. Some women were freed on taking this action, but this rendered the policy of imprisonment of suffragettes futile.
So, the government turned to a policy of force feeding hunger-strikers by nasogastric tube. Repeated uses of this process often caused sickness, which served the WSPU's aims of demonstrating the government's treatment of the prisoners.
The effect of the Act was to permit the release of prisoners who were suffering illness for them to recuperate; however, the police were free to re-imprison offenders again once they were better. The intention of the Act was to counter the tactic of hunger strikes undertaken by jailed suffragettes and the damaging consequences for the government's support among (male) voters by the force feeding of women prisoners.
This act was aimed at suppressing the power of the organisation by demoralising the activists, but turned out to be counter-productive as it undermined the moral authority of the government. The act was viewed as violating basic human rights, not only of the suffragettes but of other prisoners. The Act's nickname of Cat and Mouse Act, referring to the way the government seemed to play with prisoners as a cat may with a captured mouse, underlined how the cruelty of repeated releases and re-imprisonments turned the suffragettes from targets of scorn to objects of sympathy.
The Asquith government's implementation of the act caused the militant WSPU and the suffragettes to perceive Asquith as the enemy — an enemy to be vanquished in what the organisation saw as an all-out war.
A related effect of this law was to increase support for the Labour Party, many of whose early founders supported votes for women. For example, philosopher Bertrand Russell left the Liberal Party, and wrote pamphlets denouncing the act and the Liberals for making in his view an illiberal and anti-constitutional law. So the controversy helped to accelerate the decline in the Liberals electoral position, as segments of the middle class began to defect to Labour.
GARDAI can forcibly enter the luxury harbourside home of a millionaire developer after a judge warned he would not be allowed "play cat and mouse" with the High Court over a '28m debt.
Apr 15, 2010; Gardai told they can force their way into developer's home to arrest him Tim Healy and Ralph Riegel GARDAI can forcibly enter the...
GARDAI can forcibly enter the luxury harbourside home of a millionaire developer after a judge warned he would not be allowed to "play cat and mouse" with the High Court over a '28m debt.
Apr 15, 2010; Gardai told they can force way into developer's home Tim Healy and Ralph Riegel GARDAI can forcibly enter the luxury harbourside...