Early Parliamentary career, 1924-1929
How did Wilkinson represent her constituency at Parliament?
At Parliament, Ellen Wilkinson was known for her fierce loyalty to her constituents. She was known for her ability to reference explicitly the conditions her constituents lived and worked in - during a speech on 29th June 1926 she even displayed the rope and chain that Somerset miners used to better illustrate her argument. Of the conditions these workers experienced, she said
"The collieries in which these men are working under these conditions are very hot... There is no proper ventilation. The men are working with the perspiration pouring off their bodies. Therefore, as one can imagine when one sees an object like this, so filthy dirty, stiff with coal dust and perspiration, it rubs the skin until the men get callosities on their bodies and the rope presses against them, as we grow a corn on the foot, the flesh is rubbed and septic sores are the result."
What legislation was Ellen Wilkinson involved in during this period?
Wilkinson also established close working relationships with other women MPs including Nancy Astor, with whom she worked closely and across party lines to pursue votes for all women. In November 1925, Ellen Wilkinson introduced her first bill. Backed by Nancy Astor, the Bill sought to allow women entry into the police forces. In 1926, Astor and Wilkinson sponsored a Public Places (Order) Bill which sought to make all sexes involved in prostitution transactions equally accountable to the law. This Bill would not receive royal assent, and the changes it proposed would only became law in the Policing and Crime Act (2009). Both Astor and Wilkinson were involved with further legislation relating to pensions, nationality, and insurance, all of which directly affected the lives of women on an ongoing basis.