I have just done a live interview on Newstalk Radio, Dublin http://www.newstalk.com They had picked up on the press release for Scandal Salvation and Suffrage – The Amazing Women of The Temperance Movement from the publisher http://www.troubador.co.uk
The presenter, Tara, asked me a very good question – what had the temperance movement done for us and what lessons could we learn today from it?
I suggested that we could all follow the example of the women temperance campaigners featured in the book and be non-judgmental about people’s drinking habits. There are many reasons why people turn to alcohol. What we, as a society, need to do is to provide alternatives to the pub and activities which engage people without alcohol being provided.
Of course, on reflection, there are many more answers I could have given:
The movement did achieve a considerable reduction in the number of pubs in many towns by the end of the 19th century.
There was greater public awareness of the dangers, and the monetary and social cost, of alcohol abuse. Taking the pledge became socially acceptable – On April 6th 1915, The King took the pledge for the duration of the war, setting an example to all.
It brought about reforms in the drinking age for children, and got the serving of alcohol by youngsters banned.
The Church of England Temperance Society, supported by The National British Women’s Temperance Society (NBWTA) established a system of Police Court Missionaries who offered to work with the accused and help them lead more sober, and productive lives – this was the precursor to today’s Probation Service.
The movement promoted not just the ‘virtue’ of sobriety but those of honesty, trust-worthiness, concern for others and industry.
The temperance movement gave women a voice and demonstrated that they could organise themselves, campaign with vigour and make a difference to people’s lives.
Let me know what else I should have highlighted in my answer to this question.