A must read: The Honourable Ladies Volume 1

I have a new incentive for rewarding myself for completing tasks. An item on my to-do list gets done and I get to read another entry in a wonderful new book edited by Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith which tells us about every woman MP from 1918-1996. It’s a real treasure trove which covers the battles women have fought over the past century for equal pay, against discrimination, for childcare, for rights in the workplace – for things even as fundamental as the right to continue working after marriage or to have your own bank account.

The Honourable Ladies’ profiles are written by women MPs and commentators with a few Liberal Democrats involved. Baroness Liz Barker wrote about Vera Terrington, who was Liberal MP for Wycombe from 1922-24, championing housing, women’s rights and animal welfare.

Jo Swinson wrote about an earlier young MP for East Dunbartonshire, Margaret Ewing, who went on to represent Moray. Her generous portrait makes you want to find out more.

In her profile of Megan Lloyd-George, Kirsty Williams tells about the radical Liberal who felt that the party left her and who joined Labour, about her independent spirit and the solidarity she found with other women – mirroring cross-party solidarity between women across politics that we find today.

Other Lib Dem contributors include Caroline Pidgeon, Lynne Featherstone, Olly Grender, Julia Goldsworthy, Kirsty Williams, Susan Kramer and Alison Suttie.

A further volume, covering the women elected from 1996-present will be coming out at the end of this month. It makes you think that such a high proportion of women have only been elected in the last 20 years and that every woman every elected to Parliament can be covered in 1350 pages. Imagine how many volumes a similar exercise for men would require.

These books are pretty essential reading for anyone interested in politics and equality. I particularly liked this volume simply to read new accounts of people who were my political heroes when I first started to get interested. I’ll never forget how good it was to see a young pregnant Harriet Harman elected in 1982, how Shirley Williams inspired me to think the impossible and remembering the brilliant Ryedale by-election success of Elizabeth Shields for us back in 1986. Elizabeth, at 90, is still a councillor in Rydelale.

I think it’s one of those books that you have to have in hardback rather than on your e-reader, too. It’s a delight to thumb through and randomly pick someone to read about.

And, yes, writing this post is an item crossed off my to-do list so I’m going to dip into it again.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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