Guest post by the Hansard Writing Team On 9 March 1954, four MPs put aside party political differences to present an 80,000-signature petition to Parliament demanding equal pay. Ulster Unionist Patricia Ford, Conservative Irene Ward and Labour MPs Edith Summerskill … Continue reading Women Demand Equal Pay!
Guest post by Jacqueline Mulhallen Rebels and Friends – a play about Constance Markievicz and Eva Gore-Booth, written by Jacqueline Mulhallen, directed by William Alderson, and produced by Lynx Theatre and Poetry In 1918 Constance Markievicz was the first woman elected to the British Parliament. Because she was a a member of Sinn Fein, she did not take her seat, and there is some doubt whether she would have been eligible, though that question was not raised at the time! Instead, she became Ireland’s first minister of Labour under the illegal Sinn Fein Parliament in Ireland and the only female Cabinet Minister at … Continue reading Rebels and Friends, Constance Markievicz and Eva Gore-Booth
Guest post by Oonagh Gay The general election of July 1945 was the first held for a decade. The Second World War had led to the suspension of elections. So the results were awaited with more than common interest. The contest was held on 5 July, (with some constituencies delaying until 12 and 19 July) but the polls were not counted and declared until 3 weeks later on 26 July. This was to allow those serving abroad in the armed forces to have their votes included. The landslide victory of the Labour Party was unexpected, and had a profound impact … Continue reading ALL CHANGE! Women and the 1945 General Election
Guest post by Oonagh Gay On 1 May 1997 120 women MPs were elected; exactly double the number elected in 1992 and representing 18.2 per cent of all MPs, 71 of these MPs were new. For House of Commons Library staff, suddenly, it was no longer a rarity to meet a woman MP. Previously, it was possible to recognise each woman MP and name their constituency without much difficulty. Suddenly there was a host of younger, unfamiliar, female faces to process. 101 of those 120 women elected were Labour, reflecting the landslide majority achieved by their Party, and the positive … Continue reading When meeting a new woman MP was no longer a rarity for us staff! Recollections of the impact of the May 1997 election
Guest post by Sumita Mukherjee The 1918 Representation of the People Act, which enfranchised some British women over 30, had a broader impact beyond the British Isles. In commemorating the centenary of this Act, it will be important to acknowledge some of the broader geographical legacies of this suffrage victory. Many British suffragettes and suffragists had, for example, invoked India during their campaigns and turned their attention more directly towards India after 1918. Until India gained independence from Britain in 1947, matters of the Indian women’s franchise were decided in the House of Commons. There were two significant Acts of … Continue reading Votes for Women in India: the early female MPs and their lobbying for Indian suffrage
On 24 March 2017, Dame Margaret Beckett MP became the longest serving female MP, serving for 38 years and 128 days, in two separate periods. Margaret Beckett (or Margaret Jackson, as she then was) was first elected as the MP for Lincoln at the general election held on 10 October 1974. She lost her seat at the following election (3 May 1979) but returned to the House of Commons on 9 June 1983 as MP for Derby South. She has continued to represent Derby South since then. On 24 March 2017 she overtook Gwyneth Dunwoody as the female MP with longest total … Continue reading Another record breaker! Margaret Beckett, longest-serving woman MP
From 16 December 2016 Harriet Harman QC MP will hold the record for the longest continuous service as a woman MP in the House of Commons. Harriet Harman was first elected at a by-election on 28 October 1982. She has been an MP for 34 years and 49 days. She was elected in Peckham in 1982, and since boundary changes in 1997 has been the MP for Camberwell and Peckham. Today she overtakes Gwyneth Dunwoody as the female MP with longest continuous service since women were first elected to the House of Commons in 1918. Gwyneth Dunwoody served continuously from 28 … Continue reading Harriet Harman record breaker!
The first woman to sit for a Scottish seat was Katherine, Duchess of Atholl, elected on 6 December 1923. The first for Wales was Lady Megan Lloyd George, elected on 30 May 1919. However, Northern Ireland had to wait until 15 April 1953 for a woman to hold a seat there, and this was Patricia Ford MP. Of course, the first woman MP, Constance Markievicz, was elected for a Dublin seat in December 1918, but that was outside the borders of Northern Ireland. Patricia Ford is not well known these days. She was elected unopposed for North Down, after her … Continue reading Patricia Ford MP- first woman to sit for a Northern Ireland constituency
The most recent woman to be elected as an MP is Gill Furniss who won the by-election in the constituency of Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough on 5 May 2016. She is the widow of Henry Harpham MP, who won the seat in the 2015 general election, but died on 4 February 2016. Ms Furniss served on Sheffield council for 16 years and made her maiden speech on 23 May 2016 during a debate on public services. There is a distinguished set of women MPs who won seats after the deaths of their husbands, who had previously held the seats, and … Continue reading Continuing a tradition: Women MPs who are widows of former Members
Originally posted on Remembering Eleanor Rathbone:
Eleanor Rathbone ? 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 –… Continue reading ‘Why this fascination with an MP who died 70 years ago? Helen Goodman, Labour MP for Bishop Auckland writes about Eleanor Rathbone