Event celebrates Yorkshire’s first woman MP

The achievements of a pioneering Yorkshire MP are to be commemorated with a public lecture by senior MP Harriet Harman

Alice Bacon after her 1945 election victory. Credit: The Yorkshire Post

Alice Bacon was elected to represent Leeds North East in 1945 and served her city constituents continuously until her retirement a quarter of a century later. Awarded a CBE in the 1953 Coronation Honours, she took up a seat in the Lords as a Baroness on her retirement as an MP in 1970.

Leeds did not return another woman to the Commons until the election in 2010 of Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, who is also Baroness Bacon’s biographer.

Now Ms Reeves has teamed up with the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds, for the first in what will be a regular series of lectures in the name of her trailblazing forebear, aimed at commemorating the achievements of Leeds women – locally and nationally.

Ms Harman’s lecture, From Pioneers to Parity? 100 Years of Female Suffrage, will be given in the Great Hall at the University from 6pm on Thursday 25 January

Harriet Harman said: “It is a great honour to have been invited to Leeds to give the first Alice Bacon Lecture. This event will provide an excellent opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women, and their struggles to gain equality in all aspects of public life.”

Rachel Reeves added: “The first Alice Bacon Lecture is about reflecting on and celebrating the contribution that women have made to politics and public life in the last century. The choice of Harriet Harman MP, Mother of the House and champion of women inside and outside Parliament to be our inaugural speaker, shows the huge impact that women have and are having on our political life.”

During the afternoon before the lecture there will be a showcase of items from Leeds University Library’s Special Collections relating to women in politics, as well as material from the collections of Feminist Archive North on women’s political movements, organisations and campaigns.

The display will be on show in the Sheppard Room of Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery and open to everyone before the lecture, from 3pm until 5.30pm.