I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute to a new book profiling every woman MP from 1918 to 1996. ‘The Honourable Ladies’ celebrates the pioneers who over the last 100 years have fought tenaciously to introduce enduring reform, helping to revolutionise Britain’s political landscape. A century on from Constance Markievicz’s election to Parliament and 491 women have now passed through the House of Commons. I’m really pleased to have been asked to contribute to this important record of achievement.
I was asked to highlight the work of Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman, my predecessor as MP for Lancaster who served the city for 27 years. In her time as well as being a politician she was a social worker, dairy farmer and barrister — as well as a mother of four voted “No 1 Country Housewife” — she also managed for nine years to serve in both the Westminster and European Parliaments. She achieved all this in the face of setbacks that would have crushed others: the death of her first husband in a car crash in which she lost her memory, and five narrow election defeats, one by just 76 votes and two at the hands of Robert Maxwell. We might not have shared each other’s politics but she was a formidable force and deserves recognition for her contribution to our political life and to the House of Commons.
‘The Honourable Ladies’ is available from Amazon and other high street book sellers.