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Election to Parliament

Wilkinson's maiden speech in the House of Commons

Parliamentary Archives, HC/OF/S5/179

Early attempts at election

In 1923 Ellen Wilkinson stood as an official Labour candidate for Ashton under Lyne. Her election materials focused on issues including unemployment, poverty, housing and pensions, and she received support from a number of significant trade union figures. Unfortunately, despite winning more than a quarter of the votes cast, she lost the election. However, in the same year, she was elected to Manchester city council, where she remained until 1926.

Election to Parliament

In 1924, Wilkinson was elected to Parliament as MP for Middlesborough East. She was the only woman Labour MP, and one of only four women in the Parliament of 1924. Most notably, at that time she did not possess the household qualification which permitted her to vote. Wilkinson made her maiden speech on 10th December 1924, in which she addressed the need for votes for all women, unemployment benefits and insurance (amongst other subjects). The House of Commons, predominantly Conservative at that time, responded to her speech with a great cheer.

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