IN last week’s Yester Years we reported on the election of Warrington’s first female councillor.

Constance Broadbent won the 1918 vote. Standing as a Conservative, she gathered support of Liberal voters as well to defeat Labour man Charles Dukes.

Mr Dukes’ defeat though was not really down to the Suffragette movement but rather his vocal objections to fighting in the First World War.

His politics were very left wing and in 1912 he became a member of the board of the national executive of the newly formed British Socialist Party.

A small proportion of conscientious objectors refused to take any kind of war-related role, arguing that to do so was to legitimise war instead of pacifism.

Charles Dukes was determined to take a stand and his case attracted nationwide attention.

Janice Hayes, from Warrington Museum, explains: “His case was referred from the local tribunal to the Salford Appeal Court in August 1916 where he affirmed that his grounds for exemption were political rather than religious and his convictions were based upon, ‘the moral concept that in the right and wrong of social progress war is never justifiable’.”

Despite his objections, the tribunal lost patience and he was conscripted into the Cheshire Regiment.

He refused to sign enlistment papers, refused to obey orders and was sentenced to two years hard labour.

His case was even raised in the House of Commons by Warrington’s Conservative MP Harold Smith. But he lost and served his prison sentence.

And his reputation failed him at the ballot box too.

Constance became Warrington’s first female councillor defeating Mr Dukes to represent the Latchford Ward. Conservative, Liberals and women voters united to vote against the Labour candidate.

A former soldier who was one of her supporters, declared that it had been his privilege again to fight for his country and that the Bolsheviks and extremists were a bigger horde of corruption than even the Germans were.

However Mr Dukes was undaunted and in the general election of 1923 was returned as MP for Warrington for the first time. His parliamentary career was relatively short lived but his trade union career flourished and by 1946 he was President of the Trade Union Congress. In 1947 he was elevated to the peerage, to the disgust of Harry Hardman who remarked, “God forgive him; I won’t!”