On Wednesday, Ellie and I were fortunate enough to be invited along to the In & Out Club – Nancy Astor’s former London home – to attend the London launch of the Astor statue campaign. It was ninety-nine years to the day since Nancy Astor was voted in as the Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton. Next year, to mark the centenary of her election, the campaign aims to raise a statue in her honour – as the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons.
She was “a street fighter with a metaphorical right hook“, who went out and spoke to the women of Plymouth, who had never been spoken to before by prospective politicians.
Speaking at the launch, Alexis Bowater told the gathering, “She said ‘I didn’t put myself forward, they asked me to stand’ and they did, they asked Nancy to stand“.
The 1919 election saw a 72.5% turnout, with Nancy Astor polling more than both the Labour and Liberal candidates combined.
“I come before you in all humility, fully conscious of all limitations. If you decide that Plymouth is once again to help in making history by being the first English constituency with a woman member, I shall do all in my power to maintain the high traditions of the Borough, the ideals of my sex, and the credit of Parliament.”
“If you can’t get a fighting man, take a fighting woman” – Nancy Astor
Today, December 1st, marks ninety nine years since Nancy Astor became the first woman to walk into the House of Commons, to open a door that hundreds of other women have since followed. For almost two years, she sat as the only woman in an otherwise exclusively male chamber.
“Nancy Astor paved the way for many – but still too few – women who have followed in her footsteps over the last hundred years….I hope it will inspire new generations of women and girls to play their full part in our democracy” – Theresa May
You can support the Lady Astor statue campaign by following their campaign on social media, spreading the word or donating to their crowdfunder.
Facebook: Lady Astor Statute
You can donate to the campaign’s crowdfunding here