Helen Morgan’s inaugural: In the footsteps of the Women of Wem

In her inaugural speech in the House of Commons today, the country’s newest MP Helen Morgan told MPs:

“I will not give up fighting for the issues that matter most to North Shropshire: better access to health and ambulance services, a fair deal for farming, and proper provision of public services.”

Helen began by setting herself in the context on North Shropshire:

“While I am the first woman to represent North Shropshire in parliament, I am continuing a fine tradition of women in North Shropshire defending our democracy.”

She follows in the footsteps of the Women of Wem and made clear the Lib Dems opposition to the Judicial Review and Courts Bill.

Those of you who have visited well know that it is a large and beautiful landscape, populated with pretty market towns and villages, and with a long and fascinating history… It’s impossible to visit North Shropshire without being taken back in time…

An Iron Age fort in Oswestry starts the story that underpins the local economy to this day…

The intertwined story of North Shropshire [and politics] is Whitchurch when it became an important staging post on the Roman road to Chester. It takes its modern name from St Alkmund’s Church, originally built with white sandstone quarried in the south of the constituency of Grinshill. The association continues. This fine white sandstone was also used to make the lentils and doors around number 10 Downing Street, and I’m sure the prime minister will be reminded of the beautiful constituency of North Shropshire each time he passes through.

Continuing to speak on an historical theme, Helen Morgan told MPs:

In the early days of the War of the Roses, the Yorkist army thundered past Market Drayton and North Shropshire to link up with reinforcements in Ludlow… In the Civil War, the town closest to my home, proved that the communities of North Shropshire are not just decent and resilient but occasionally radical. It was the first town in Shropshire to declare for the parliamentarians in the Civil War. The troops garrisons in the town had not completed their wooden defences and had only 40 musketeers… The loyalists, confident in their victory approached.

The legend has it that the Women of Wem rallied to the parliamentarian cause and the garrison held.

So, it seems that while I am the first woman to represent North Shropshire in parliament, I am continuing a fine tradition of women in North Shropshire defending our democracy.

I am reminded of the great Women of Wem when I consider the impact of [the Judicial Review and Courts Bill]. I’m sure that colleagues on both sides of this house would agree that our democracy which has evolved over hundreds of years and since the 17th century largely peacefully, should be protected at all costs. Fundamental that democracy is that the rule of law is upheld without fear or favour. But this Bill seeks to undermine that principle. It will limit the ability of ordinary people to hold this government to account in the courts.

Full speech in Hansard.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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One Comment

  • Yeovil Yokel 26th Jan '22 - 2:07pm

    This transcript has a few typos, e.g. “lentils” for lintels, and “loyalists” for Royalists.
    Also, it misses her subtly-weighted delivery which caused some laughter, e.g. …..”the Royalists [i.e. the Tories’ recent by-election candidate], confident in their victory, approached….”

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