Perfect day to remember Alice Bacon and her place in Leeds political history

Alice Bacon campaigning in Leeds.
Alice Bacon campaigning in Leeds.

She was a political powerhouse whose achievements blazed an inspirational trail for women across Leeds.

And this Thursday, on International Women’s Day 2018, Yorkshire will pay a neatly-timed tribute to Alice Bacon, the miner’s daughter who became Leeds’s first female MP.

A blue plaque honouring her life and career is being unveiled at 1pm during a special programme of events taking place at the Wakefield One building in Wakefield city centre.

The plaque will eventually be given a permanent home outside the library in Normanton, the town where Alice was born and educated.

Running from 10am to 2pm, Thursday’s tribute programme at Wakefield One also includes drama and spoken word performances and on-the-spot poetry writing.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, author of a biography of Alice that was published in 2016, will give a talk at 12.15pm.

The event has been organised by Wakefield Council in partnership with the Dream Time Creative arts company.

Wakefield Council chief executive Merran McRae said: “Alice was born into a world where she was unable to vote and became a prominent MP and campaigner for social reform.

“She lived her life in the Wakefield district and this event celebrates her inspirational achievements as part of International Women’s Day.

“The year also marks 100 years since women were able to vote. Let’s celebrate the achievements of all the inspirational women that fought to make this happen.”

Alice initially represented Leeds North East and then Leeds South East as a Labour MP between 1945 and 1970.

A powerful speaker who helped create the welfare state, she was made a life peer in 1970.

Alice was hailed as one of the most significant figures in the British Labour movement following her death in 1993 aged 83.

Speaking about the part that International Women’s Day has to play in modern society, Dream Time Creative’s Sarah Cobham said: “It’s important because we live in an era of increasing inequalities, wealth and resources which affect women exponentially and we continue to witness a frightening backlash against women’s rights gained to date.

“It’s important because some issues remain stubbornly unchanged - it will take 80 years at the current voting rate for women to be equally represented in UK parliament.”

Visitors to Normanton’s Hopetown Liberal Club will be able to sample a beer made by Outwood’s Five Towns Brewery as a tribute to Alice from 7.30pm on Thursday.