YP Letters: Pioneering MP Ellen was an inspiration

From: Edward Grainger, Botany Way, Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough.

Ellen Wilkinson

Rachel Reeves, the Labour MP for Leeds West, documents so clearly the impact that Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson had on the constituencies that she represented, ie Middlesbrough East and Jarrow (The Yorkshire Post, September 1). Labelled incorrectly as ‘Red Ellen’ for her socialist Christian belies that were far removed from any communist leanings.

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She was elected to Parliament in 1924 – as my father, then aged 14, leaving school as an apprentice joiner, almost immediately suffered the scourge of unemployment, although only temporarily.

He would often recall hearing Ellen Wilkinson speak to the thousands of men and women, mostly unemployed, from the public platform of Middlesbrough Town Hall, her basic theme being, unsurprisingly, “fair shares for all and equal opportunity for all”, set against the grinding stigma of extreme poverty and poor health.

As Rachel Reeves so aptly says were Ellen Wilkinson to return to her two political bases, she would find that poverty and unemployment is for many still a reality, surely testimony today to a divided Britain as it was over 90 years ago.