A number of celebrations are taking place this year of Eleanor Rathbone. In Liverpool recently a thousand people attended a lecture about her.
Why this fascination with an MP who died 70 years ago, never held Ministerial Office and died before the reform to which she devoted her life was introduced?
I believe it is because the causes she espoused are still with us today. The conditions may have changed, but the arguments remain the same. Her principle campaigns were for family allowances, refugees and women’s rights.
Eleanor Rathbone was – literally – a big whig. She came from a wealthy and well –established Liverpool Quaker shipping family.
After Oxford, she returned to Liverpool. There she produced a significant Report on an Inquiry into the Conditions of Dock Labour at the Liverpool Docks. Her argument was not a socialist-class based analysis – her concern was that wages did…
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