Are we a political party? Yes we are!

I couldn’t resist a postscript to the blog I wrote a few months ago where I asked whether we were a political family. Or rather, I needed something to keep me busy whilst waiting for Sharon’s result today as I hope, exactly 100 years after my great, great grandmother lost her right to vote, we can prove that we are.

Just one hundred years ago, women were voting in a general election here in the UK for the second time. Well, some women were, those aged over 30 who were also registered property occupiers (or married to a registered property occupier) of land or premises with a rateable value greater than £5 or of a dwelling-house. Two thirds of women who would have met the male requirement were still denied the right to vote.

Three of my great grandmothers met the age requirement and possibly could. The fourth, Marion Moody was just twenty and so wouldn’t have been able to vote even if she had been born male.

Five of my great, great grandmothers were still alive in 1922. Whilst it’s difficult to judge whether they would have met the property requirement, I know that one, Amelia Bradbury (wife of Michael Houseman who I talk about below) would have been disenfranchised just the previous year. When Michael died in 1892, Amelia had taken over the lease on Long Liberty Farm in Haverah Park together with her son, my great grandfather, Jesse Houseman. Unfortunately, she was not able to agree to a proposed increase in rent (to £165-0-0) and had moved in with her daughter and son-in-law in 1921. Without property Jesse could vote, Amelia was no longer entitled to take part in the democratic process.

Yet here we one hundred years later, the women in our family working together to get the first woman in our family elected.

Mum’s daily step count regularly passed the 20,000-mark, Sharon’s hair gained a yellow streak, Helen & Anna joined the delivery team, my eleven-year-old niece coached me on how to approach a doorstep conversation and I talked to more people in two weeks than I have done in the last two years. It was Leeds council election time.

On the campaign trail.

Weetwood was one of two Labour target wards in Leeds and it was going to be close. A local left-leaning website suggested that residents were being “bombarded” with literature but everyone I spoke to was delighted they might have the chance to vote for such a hardworking councillor and (often) a woman as well.

By this point you can probably guess that I am still waiting for the result.

And waiting

And still waiting

And, gutted. Despite increasing her vote when the overall vote decreased, Sharon was pipped again. How can someone take 4,458 votes across two council elections and still not have a seat?

Next time. For, we are (the women at least) a political force.

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