Lady Astor 100 Statue Campaign

Unveiling Nancy Astor’s complicated legacy

It’s 100 years since the first woman to took her seat in the UK Parliament, but what was Astor actually like?

The centenary commemoration of Nancy Astor’s election to Parliament to become the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons couldn’t be more relevant and resonant. Since the passage of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act passed in November 1918, there have been 497 women Members of Parliament, and two of these have become Prime Minister. Whilst only a trickle of women made up the first generation of female MPs, the pace of change has slowly accelerated particularly at the last elections, bringing the total of women MPs at the last parliament to 32%. This goes some way to honouring Astor’s legacy.

Despite these growing numbers, it hardly feels like a moment for rejoicing about the place and the status of women in British politics. Met with the prospect an anger-fuelled, rage-filled and highly polarised UK General Election, a significant number of women MPs have decided not to stand again. Strikingly, around half of the 18 resigning are Conservative women — the same political party as Astor. For too many, the reason is the intolerable levels of aggression and intimidation they have faced in the line of duty whilst Brexit debate has raged on and remained unresolved.

Read more here >

Alexis Bowater