Stepping Towards Equality: From the Workhouse to the Chambers?

Today the UK marked 100 years since some women—specifically those aged over 30 with property—won the right to vote, a vital leap towards universal suffrage which would come a decade later.

The significance of this anniversary should not be lost on any woman or feminist for it was the first tender step towards a level of equality between all people, regardless of their birth, station, gender, sexuality, religion, wealth or other, that we still strive to achieve today across all aspects of society.

However, for me, this auspicious anniversary reminds me of my own female family history though I cannot claim kinship with those titans of the suffragette movement; instead I am reminded of my maternal grandmother, Gladys.

Gladys was born in a workhouse in Gravesend in 1904, rumoured to be the illegitimate daughter of the dock worker William Mackie who subsequently died on the Titanic in 1912. Born in poverty, as was still commonplace in those times, Gladys was just another child put in service to those rich folk with nice big houses. Though an unpalatable thought to us now I am certain Gladys would have been thrilled to be out of the workhouse with a roof over her head and fed for her toils. In the era before the welfare state I guess Gladys, in some respect, would have been considered fortunate.

Like thousands of working-class women with barely any education and trapped with a single option for her future, Gladys took up the only choice she had: marriage. With marriage came children; 8 of them with the youngest, my mother, arriving in 1948. Gladys became the matriarch, keeping house and home while her husband, Charles, cycled from Southend to the Shell refinery in Grays and back every day.

By all accounts Gladys was a fierce woman not to be messed with. Charles wouldn’t win an argument with her – I’m sure he knew better than to try. Her life was not an easy one but she lived through tremendous change. She witnessed the creation of the NHS and welfare state – two things which would have immensely improved her life chances and those of the thousands of people who fell fatally prey to destitution and disease.

She would have seen and heard of the suffragettes and their hard-fought victories. Of course, aged just fourteen, she could not vote in 1918 but she could in 1929. I wonder if she used her vote. I wonder what she thought of the suffragettes. I wonder what she thought the world would be like in 2018.

In her lifetime the world changed so much but I wonder if she—in the workhouse, living in servitude, and then whilst raising her own family—ever thought that the world would change so much in just two generations of her family. That a girl from the workhouse, born with no title and no birth-right to vote would have a granddaughter who is proudly standing as a candidate in the 2018 local elections.

Samantha Reed

Delegate’s Report – Labour East Regional Conference 2017

By David Flack

Held at the Marriott Hotel, Huntingdon, 17-19 November 

Prior to the conference – The organisation was not good our CLP and a number of others did not receive adequate notice of the submission deadlines for delegates, elections and resolution submission. The regional director insisted that notices were sent out by email to secretaries but many delegates from Essex were reporting the same issues. This probably explains why the elections to the regional board were not contested! Continue reading

Rayleigh & Wickford, thank you!

Last night, the people spoke. Labour achieved its biggest swing in vote share across the country since 1945. Labour was not wiped out; we grew stronger in almost every seat! Jeremy Corbyn led the Labour Party to achieve a monumental feat. The Conservatives have lost their majority in Parliament and the position of whatever government we now have looks deeply uncertain as we head towards crucial Brexit talks; the most crucial thing to happen to us in recent history.

At home in Rayleigh & Wickford, we achieved great things

  • The number of votes we received doubled to over 13,000.
  • Our vote share grew from 12.6% to 24.3%
  • We achieved the best result for Labour ever in this constituency, and before that in the old Rayleigh constituency, since 2001.

To the people of Rayleigh & Wickford: We are here. We are your opposition. We are with you. We are Labour! From Mark and the team, thank you for standing with us, from the bottom of our hearts.

Mark Daniels’ Website is Live!

Mark’s official campaign website is launching – http://markdanielslabour.com – Mark will be posting (blogging) regularly to it, giving his pledges and detailed views on all the major issues, local and national, as we run up to the election.

As well as being an informative source of information about Mark’s campaign, it offers easy ways to get in touch and features a live campaign map showing every street we’ve been leafleting and canvassing on and a growing gallery filled with pictures of Mark and our supporters as we embark on the campaign trail together, for the many!

Sharing the message to care for the NHS in Rayleigh

Members of Rayleigh and Wickford CLP were out in force today in Rayleigh High Street, joining in with the nation-wide campaign to #CarefortheNHS. It was cold but we had lots of fun talking to people and distributing leaflets!

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Thanks to our Vice Chair, Sam Reed’s hard work in organising a successful afternoon of leafleting, meeting and greeting people and raising awareness of the current plight that the NHS is in, especially in this part of Essex.

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