MP pens book about Normanton heroine, Alice Bacon

MP Alice Bacon
MP Alice Bacon

An MP has put pen to paper to for her first book which focusses on a pioneering Normanton woman’s rise to Parliament.

Rachel Reeves, who represents Leeds West, has spent almost five years researching and writing the book on the life of Alice Bacon, who died in 1993 aged, 83.

MP Rachel Reeves

MP Rachel Reeves

Baroness Bacon was Yorkshire’s first female MP when she was elected in 1945, and is one of the “great unsung heroes of British post-war political history”, according to Ms Reeves.

Having won her own seat in 2010, Ms Reeves then began to research the woman whose footsteps she has followed in.

“Until I got elected, Alice was the only woman to have served in the Leeds constituencies, that’s how I became interested and started researching her.

“Over the last few years I have interviewed anybody who knew her and reading her speeches. She was a remarkable woman and a real asset.

“I started all of this about five years ago and gradually put it all together, but it’s been time consuming.”

The daughter of a coal-miner, Alice lived her whole life on Castleford Road, Normanton, and she was the joint first woman MP in Yorkshire and the only woman to serve as a Leeds MP until Ms Reeves in 2010.

When Alice was elected in 1945, there had only ever been about 30 women serving in the House of Commons and the book includes stories about the work and struggles of the early women in Parliament.

Serving in the Commons until 1970, Alice was a key player in some of the key struggles of the period.

This included serving as Roy Jenkins’ deputy at the Home Office during the wave of social reforms of the late 1960s, such as the legalisation of homosexuality and abortion, and the abolition of the death penalty.

She was also the minister responsible for schools during the drive towards comprehensive education. “In light of debates about grammar schools, resurgent struggles within the Labour Party and as a politician with a deep and intuitive grasp of working-class, northern communities, Alice’s life is more relevant than ever,” added Ms Reeves.

“I’ve really enjoyed uncovering her story and I wanted to do it justice.”

Titled ‘Alice in Westminster’, the book will cost £20 and will be launched on December 1 at Waterstones in Leeds.