Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Ruth Dalton: The three-month MP

The other day I came across a fascinating little episode in political history via the Wikipedia entry on Ruth Dalton, wife of the Labour chancellor.

That entry links to the Commons maiden speech by Helen Goodman in 1997:

It is an honour to be the first woman MP for Bishop Auckland, and that honour belongs to Ruth Dalton, who took the seat in a by-election in 1929.

Her husband, the then MP for Peckham, had already been selected as the Bishop Auckland candidate for the forthcoming general election when the sitting Member unexpectedly died. Meanwhile, in Peckham the prospective candidate was the sitting MP for Gateshead.

Had it not been for the ingenuity of the Bishop Auckland Labour party, instead of one by-election there would have been three, but the whole matter was resolved in two days.

In his excellent biography of Dalton, Ben Pimlott tells us:

Without Ruth even attending for interview, the seventy-strong General Committee Bishop Auckland decided unanimously that she should become the by-election candidate. No other name was even mentioned,

because she could be relied on to resign in favour of her husband as soon as Parliament was dissolved, three months later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

and she never made a speech in the HoC let alone table any PQ's