Blue plaque tribute to Leeds political pioneer Baroness Alice Bacon

A Leeds MP has spoken of her pride at being asked to unveil a new tribute to political trailblazer Baroness Alice Bacon.
Alice Bacon on the campaign trail in Leeds.Alice Bacon on the campaign trail in Leeds.
Alice Bacon on the campaign trail in Leeds.

As previously reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, Baroness Bacon – Leeds and Yorkshire’s first female MP – has been chosen as the latest significant local figure to be recognised with a Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque.

It will be unveiled at 1pm this Thursday in Leeds city centre’s Corn Exchange, where she used to hold her constituency surgeries.

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And doing the honours at the unveiling ceremony will be Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, Baroness Bacon’s biographer and the city’s second woman MP.

Rachel Reeves.Rachel Reeves.
Rachel Reeves.

The event comes at the start of a year that will see the centenary of Nancy Astor becoming the first female MP to take her seat in the House of Commons.

Ms Reeves said: “We are marking an important anniversary in the battle for women’s political equality.

“I’m delighted that Leeds will be celebrating a remarkable woman pioneer.

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“Alice Bacon was born into a world where women were unable to vote, yet went on to become Yorkshire’s first female MP, elected to the constituency of Leeds North East in 1945 and serving as an MP for 25 years including as a minister in Harold Wilson’s government.

“As only the second woman to represent a Leeds constituency in the House of Commons, I am honoured to be unveiling a plaque to commemorate her life and work.”

Thursday’s ceremony will also be attended by Coun Judith Blake, the leader of Leeds City Council and the first woman to hold that position.

The text on the plaque gives details of Baroness Bacon’s special place in the county’s political story as well as some of her furthest-reaching achievements at Westminster.

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Looking ahead to the unveiling, Leeds Civic Trust director Martin Hamilton said: “Leeds has produced its fair share of prominent politicians, many attaining very high office and some remembered by the blue plaques scheme, but in Alice Bacon we are able to celebrate a trailblazer – Leeds’s first female MP, and someone whose political legacy still resonates today.”

The plaque is being sponsored by Corn Exchange owner Rushbond, with support also coming from the University of Leeds.

Baroness Bacon, a miner’s daughter from Normanton, initially represented Leeds North East and then Leeds South East as a Labour MP between 1945 and 1970.

She became a minister of state at the Home Office when Labour re-entered government in 1964.

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A powerful speaker who helped create the welfare state and played a key role in the introduction of comprehensive schools, she was made a life peer in 1970.

Baroness Bacon was hailed as a towering figure in the British Labour movement following her death in 1993 aged 83.