I was very pleased indeed to be invited on to Ronnie Barbour’s show on BBC Three Counties Radio yesterday to mark the anniversary of the appointment of Britain’s first female Cabinet Minister. Margaret Bondfield, one of the first Labour women to be returned as MPs, was made Minister of Labour on 8 June 1929. Ramsey MacDonald appointed Miss Bondfield to this position mainly because she had risen through the trade union ranks in the shop workers union and therefore had a wealth of experience of the Labour Government at this time. During a period of rising unemployment and economic instability it was vital to have someone at this key department who understood how to deal with these severe difficulties.
Miss Bondfield was elected to Parliament in 1923 representing Northampton. Three Labour women were returned to the House of Commons at this general election, the first Labour women to sit in the House of Commons. The other two were Susan Lawrence and Dorothy Jewson. Miss Lawrence also had a distinguished parliamentary career, becoming a Junior Minister at the Department of Health.
It was very good to see Three Counties Radio taking an interest in political history and marking what I certainly consider a significant anniversary.
You can listen to my interview on BBC Local Radio here or by using the audio player below.