‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian

Monday, 3 June 2013

The First Margaret of British Politics

Today is the anniversary of the Louth by-election of 1920, held five days after the constituency had been inundated by a flood which had claimed 23 lives.

This Lincolnshire seat had been held by the Conservatives, but the by-election was won by Thomas Wintringham for the Liberals. Wintringham died the following year, triggering another by-election.

The Liberal candidate at the 1921 by-election was Thomas Wintringham’s wife, Margaret, who held the seat for the Liberals.

Margaret Wintringham thus became the first ever female Liberal MP, only the third ever female MP for any party and only the second to take her seat in the Commons. Margaret campaigned for the equalisation of the franchise and equal pay for women. The first of which was achieved by 1928. The second has been achieved in theory, but still not in practice.

Among her successors, Louth hosted Jeffrey Archer as the constituency’s MP from 1969 to 1974, although he is now more famous for his scandals, his writing and his imprisonment.

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