Flashback Friday

#FBFMightyWomen - Ray Michie

Not only was our #FBF a Scottish speech therapist, born in the Old Manse, but she was also a Liberal Democrat politician. Today we present, Ray Michie.

Ray Michie MP   (Photo Credit:  BBC, 2008 ).

Ray Michie MP (Photo Credit: BBC, 2008).

Spending fourteen years representing in Parliament (MP) for Argyll and Bute between 1987 and 2001, Michie was the first person to pledge the oath of allegiance in the House of Lords entirely in Gaelic.

Michie first entered into politics whilst waiting for her father to arrive for his own political meetings. Here, she developed her taste for the political, and regularly spoke before he went on stage. Bannerman, Michie’s dad, fought Argyll at the 1945 election, and Inverness at the 1950 general election, where he lost the by-election here and again in 1954, and 1955. In 1967, Bannerman became a life peer, which Michie also eventually became.

Michie worked as a speech therapist at the county hospital in Oban, and later for the Argyll and Clyde Health Board in 1977. During this time, she supplemented speech-therapy with political activism (not easy work!), and became the Chairman of Argyll Liberal Association from 1973 to 1976, which was proceeded by becoming the vice-Chairman of the Scottish Liberal Party from 1977 to 1983. Michie defeated the Convservative ministers, John Mackay, in the 1987 general election to become a Member of Parliament standing her as the Liberals’ only female MP. Not only this, but Michie was an advocate for Home Rule for Scotland, and in promoting and developing the Scottish Gaelic language. 

When the Liberal Democrats formed in 1988, Michie joined and increased her majority in the following two general elections, garnering support of voters in the remote constituencies of the peninsulas and islands. This was perhaps because as a Liberal Democrat, she was the spokesperson on transport and rural development from 1987 to 1988, moving to ‘women’s issues’ in 1988 to 1994, and then as spokesperson on Scotland from 1988 to 1997. Speaker Betty Boothroyd appointed Michie as a member of the panel of chairmen during her last term in the Commons, from 1997 to 2001, where she supported campaigns to end submarine operations of the Royal Navy in the Firth of Clyde, as well as successfully bidding for residents of Gigha to buy their own island.

Her political involvement doesn’t stop here; Michie also became a joint Vice-Chairsperson on the Parliamentary Group on the Whisky industry, and was made a life peer as Baroness Michie of Gallanach, of Oban in Argyll and Bute in 2001, after stepping down from parliament in the general election. Michie was also appointed as an Honorary Associate of the National Council of Women of Great Britain, and appointed to the Scottish Broadcasting Commission shortly before her passing.

 Michie’s life was characterised by political involvement, and she managed to accomplish so much in every aspect of it; a mother to three children, a wife, the Vice-President of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, and all the political positions she held on top of that. Her life was committed to furthering the causes she held close to her liberal ideologies.


beth-ywca-e1541169977817-225x300.jpg

Written by Beth Cloughton, Young Women Lead Programme Intern, with YWCA Scotland - The Young Women’s Movement. You can follow Beth, and more of her writing on Twitter @Bacloughton, and on the Young Women’s Movement blog!  

#FBFMightyWomen - Winnie Ewing

Glasgow-born Winnie Ewing is an internationally renowned politician. A prominent SNP politician, as well as a member of both Parliament, Scottish Parliament, and European Parliament, Ewing generated huge support for the SNP in the 1967 by-election. Acting as the Scottish National Party President from 1987 to 2005, Ewing also qualified and practised as a solicitor and notary public, being the Secretary of the Glasgow Bar Association from 1962 to 1967.

Winnie Ewing, in 1967 (Photo Credit:  The Blantyre Project )

Winnie Ewing, in 1967 (Photo Credit: The Blantyre Project)

Ewing’s political foray first came about through her membership with the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association, where she actively campaigned for Scottish Independence. Winning the Hamilton by-election as the SNP candidate, Ewing attended Westminster in a Scottish-built Hillman Imp, and with her presence, SNP had a significant rise in membership. In 1974, Ewing was took the position as the SNP spokesperson on external affairs, and in the following year became a Member of European Parliament.

Taking SNP Presidency in 1987, and by 1995 Ewing became Britain’s longest serving MEP. In addition, she was the former Vice President of the European Radical Alliance. In 1999 Ewing did not stand for the European Parliament but became a Member of the Scottish Parliament in the first session of the Scottish Parliament representing the Highlands and Islands.

Outside of the political environment, Ewing was a Vice President of Parity, an equal rights charity, and was conferred with an honorary LLD degree from the University of Glasgow.

The current First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, believes Ewing ‘changed the course of Scottish political history’[1]. Ewing has been a trailblazer for politics, women in politics, and the Scottish political landscape. She promoted Scotland’s national interest in Europe, which resulted in her being awarded the sobriquet of Madame Ecosse.

Winnie Ewing with her portrait, at The Scottish Parliament in 2009 (Photo Credit:  BBC Scotland ).

Winnie Ewing with her portrait, at The Scottish Parliament in 2009 (Photo Credit: BBC Scotland).

Ewing chaired the first meeting of the devolved Scottish Parliament, and in an interview 2013, claimed that she had been urged to stand by three young men from the Hamilton SNP branch who visited her when she was living in the southside of Glasgow. This is a brilliant example of how those in power can bring others in who have been marginalised or excluded from political realms. Some Labour politicians from the central belt at the time, in response to Ewing’s victories, treated her so badly she had to report their behaviour to the Commons’ Authorities.

 "She argued her cause and her corner at a time when it wasn't fashionable to do so, and she did it against all of the odds having experienced abuse and bullying along the way," - FM Nicola Sturgeon


[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-43516895/political-heroes-snp-nicola-sturgeon-on-winnie-ewing


beth-ywca-e1541169977817-225x300.jpg

Written by Beth Cloughton, Young Women Lead Programme Intern, with YWCA Scotland - The Young Women’s Movement. You can follow Beth, and more of her writing on Twitter @Bacloughton, and on the Young Women’s Movement blog!

#FBFMightyWomen- Agnes Agnew Hardie

Working as a shop assistant in Glasgow in the late 19th century, Agnes Agnew Hardie later became a pioneering member of the Shop Assistants’ Union, primarily in an organisational role, being the first woman to hold a position in this group. Affiliated to Labour from the start of her political career, Hardie was the Women’s Organiser of the Party during WWI and during this time, joined the Women’s Peace Crusade, opposing conscription laws.

Unfortunately, no widely accessible images of Agnes Agnew Hardie could be found.  ‘If she can't see it, she can't be it' -  let’s work together to ensure visibility of positive role models, so as to inspire every following generation of women leaders.

Unfortunately, no widely accessible images of Agnes Agnew Hardie could be found. ‘If she can't see it, she can't be it' - let’s work together to ensure visibility of positive role models, so as to inspire every following generation of women leaders.

In 1937, Hardie was elected as a Member of Parliament for Glasgow Springburn, holding her seat up until she retired in 1945. Her election in the early 20th century positioned her as Glasgow’s first female MP, and the fifth female MP ever to be elected in Scotland. Amongst these firsts, Hardie was also elected to the Glaswegian School Board, and initial female member of the Glasgow Trades Council.

Throughout her political activism, Hardie spoke boldly on domestic issues, including food shortages, ensuring the household voice that is still often marginalised, was heard. The environment of Glaswegian, like all of Scottish politics, was typically masculine, yet it gradually changed through more women like Hardie entering into, and speaking for the rights of women.

Unfortunately, her legend is documented minimally. Women in history have invested so much and yet their contribution in whatever way, be it domestic, economic, emotional, political or physical has been erased so much from records. After hours searching, her husband’s career, her children’s choices were considerably more evidenced. Hardie was, like so many other women, recent political ‘firsts’. Even now, in 2019, ‘firsts’ are still being made with women’s (recognised, formal) participation in the political realm. We need to re-write, currently document, and provide platforms for future political activists to be remembered, honoured, and inspired.

Unfortunately, her legend is minimally documented. Women in history have invested equally and yet their contribution in whatever way, be it domestic, economic, emotional, political or physical has been erased so much from records. After hours searching, her husband’s career, her children’s choices were considerably more evidenced. Hardie was, like so many other women, recent political ‘firsts’. Even now, in 2019, ‘firsts’ are still being made with women’s (recognised, formal) participation in the political realm. We need to re-write, currently document, and provide platforms for future political activists to be remembered, honoured, and inspired.


 
beth-ywca-scotland

Written by Beth Cloughton, Young Women Lead Programme Inter, with YWCA Scotland - The Young Women’s Movement. You can follow Beth, and more of her writing on Twitter @Bacloughton, and on the Young Women’s Movement blog!