Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Gwyneth and Barbara

Have been asked to do a piece for Radio 4 tomorrow, on Gwyneth Dunwoody. My fellow guest in the studio will be Clare Short, who, as a former Transport Minister, has probably been on the receiving end of Gwyneth at her formidable best. The discussion is then going to move on to the changing role of women in politics - or something like that; I suspect it may be more along the lines of 'why don't we breed women like Gwyneth anymore?'

I was asked recently to provide 50 words on my political hero/heroine and how they had inspired me, for a forthcoming parliamentary exhibition. I opted for Barbara Castle - and not just because she was 5'1" with red hair, although I do remember being quite thrilled at Labour Conference 1993 to discover that I was possibly just a tiny bit taller than her. She was feisty and funny and fearless and, although indisputably a feminist, didn't get boxed into only doing "women's issues" (but she did introduce the Equal Pay Act). And, until Gwyneth overtook her in 2007, she was the longest ever continuously serving female MP. If only her spell as Transport Minister had coincided with Gwyneth's spell as chair of the Transport Select Committee. That really would have been worth watching.

1 comment:

Kerry said...

Correction - Clare was only shadow Transport Minister, so didn't appear in front of Gwyneth at the Select Committee.