Although the majority of men opposed the idea of women voting in parliamentary elections, some leading male politicians supported universal suffrage. This included severals leading figures of the Labour Party, including James Keir Hardie, George Lansbury, Harold Laski, Gerald Gould, and Philip Snowdon. Another Labour politician, Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, helped to fund Votes for Women newspaper and provided bail for nearly a thousand members of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) who were arrested for breaking the law.
Robert Cecil, one of the main figures in the Conservative Party was also a supporter but most were totally opposed to the idea of votes for women. Several members of the Liberal administration, such as David Lloyd George, also favoured women being granted the vote.
In 1907, several left-wing intellectuals, including Henry Nevinson, Laurence Housman, Charles Corbett, Henry Brailsford, C. E. M. Joad, Israel Zangwill, Hugh Franklin, Henry Harben, Gerald Gould, Charles Mansell-Moullin, and 32 other men formed the Men's League for Women's Suffrage "with the object of bringing to bear upon the movement the electoral power of men. To obtain for women the vote on the same terms as those on which it is now, or may in the future, be granted to men."
At a by-election in Wimbledon in 1907 Bertrand Russell, stood as the Suffragist candidate. Evelyn Sharp later argued: "It is impossible to rate too highly the sacrifices that they (Henry Nevinson and Laurence Housman) and H. N. Brailsford, F. W. Pethick Lawrence, Harold Laski, Israel Zangwill, Gerald Gould, George Lansbury, and many others made to keep our movement free from the suggestion of a sex war."
In 1909 the Men's League for Women's Suffrage published a list of prominent men in favour of women's suffrage. This included 83 former government ministers, 49 church leaders, 24 high-ranking army and navy officers, 86 academics and the writers E. M. Forster, Thomas Hardy, H. G. Wells, John Masefield and Arthur Pinero. By 1910 it had ten branches in Britain.
The Men's League for Women's Suffrage had no political party affiliation, was non-militant in its methods, but supported both the Women Social & Political Union and Women's Freedom League. The MLWS concentrated on "propagandist work". Charles Mansell-Moullin was one of the most active of the members. In a letter that he had published in The Daily Mirror on 22nd November 1910, he complained about how the police were treating members of the WSPU during demonstrations: "The women were treated with the greatest brutality. They were pushed about in all directions and thrown down by the police. Their arms were twisted until they were almost broken. Their thumbs were forcibly bent back, and they were tortured in other nameless ways that made one feel sick at the sight... These things were done by the police. There were in addition organised bands of well-dressed roughs who charged backwards and forwards through the deputation like a football team without any attempt being made to stop them by the police; but they contented themselves with throwing the women down and trampling upon them."
In October, 1912, George Lansbury decided to draw attention to the plight of WSPU prisoners by resigning his seat in the House of Commons and fighting a by-election in favour of votes for women. Lansbury discovered that a large number of males were still opposed to equal rights for women and he was defeated by 731 votes. The following year he was imprisoned for making speeches in favour of suffragettes who were involved in illegal activities. While in Pentonville he went on hunger strike and was eventually released under the Cat and Mouse Act.
C. E. M. Joad was another member of the Men's League for Women's Suffrage: "I joined the Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement, hobnobbed with emancipated feminists who smoked cigarettes on principle, drank Russian tea and talked with an assured and deliberate frankness of sex and of their own sex experiences, and won my spurs for the movement by breaking windows in Oxford Street for which I spent one night in custody."
Evelyn Sharp later commented: "It is impossible to rate too highly the sacrifices that they (Henry Nevinson and Laurence Housman) and H. N. Brailsford, F. W. Pethick Lawrence, Harold Laski, Israel Zangwill, Gerald Gould, George Lansbury, and many others made to keep our movement free from the suggestion of a sex war."
Dr. Charles Mansell-Moullin joined forces with Sir Victor Horsley and Dr. Agnes Savill to write a report on the impact of the forced-feeding of suffragettes. In a speech on 13th March, 1913 he argued that Reginald McKenna, the Home Secretary, had been making misleading statements to the House of Commons: "Now Mr. McKenna has said time after time that forcible feeding, as carried out in His Majesty's prisons, is neither dangerous nor painful. Only the other day he said, in answer to an obviously inspired question as to the possibility of a lady suffering injury from the treatment she received in prison, "I must wait until a case arises in which any person has suffered any injury from her treatment in prison."... He relies entirely upon reports that are made to him - reports that must come from the prison officials, and go through the Home Office to him, and his statements are entirely founded upon those reports. I have no hesitation in saying that these reports, if they justify the statements that Mr. McKenna has made, are absolutely untrue. They not only deceive the public, but from the persistence with which they are got up in the same sense, they must be intended to deceive the public."