Ellen Wilkinson : from red suffragist to government minister by Paula Bartley

By Paula Bartley

Ellen Wilkinson was once a key radical determine within the twentieth century British socialist and feminist flow, a lady of passionate strength who was once eager about lots of the significant struggles of her time.

Born in October 1891 right into a working-class fabric kinfolk, Wilkinson was once concerned about women’s suffrage, helped discovered the British Communist social gathering, led the Labour Party’s anti-fascist crusade, headed the enduring Jarrow campaign and used to be the 1st lady Minister of Education.

In this energetic and fascinating biography, Paula Bartley charts the political lifetime of this amazing campaigner who went from highway agitator to govt minister when preserving her rules intact.

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The Memorandum permitted local authorities, if they wished, to provide birth control clinics and information to married mothers about birth control ‘where further pregnancy would be detrimental to health’. Privately, and without generating too much fuss, Ellen had 39 Bartley T02567 01 text 39 06/01/2014 20:03 Ellen Wilkinson achieved the result for which Labour Women had so publicly and acrimoniously campaigned. There were further tensions between Ellen and other Labour Party feminists. A number of feminists, including Ellen, suggested that married women be given a family allowance by the state if they cared for their children at home.

Her resignation from the Communist Party was announced in September 1924. Some accused Ellen of placing her career before her convictions but she denied that her departure was due to Labour Party diktats. She resigned, Ellen protested, firstly because she disliked the Communist Party’s constant and indiscriminate attacks on the Labour Party; secondly she disapproved of its rejection of Parliamentary methods; thirdly she condemned its attempt to capture the trade union movement and remodel it along Russian lines; and finally she rejected its exclusive and dictatorial methods.

All the same they respected her greatly. ’25 In other situations, where action rather than analysis was called for, Ellen was less measured. In May 1923, she was embroiled in a long drawn-out strike when the Co-op directors imposed a series of wage cuts, mostly affecting its female staff. From 1922, there was a deflationary economy and many workers had to accept a wage reduction but Ellen was determined to protect the wages of Co-op workers. She was once again in her element, challenging the Co-op directors, rushing around the country gaining support, speaking to striking workers.

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