Mighty Women

#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.


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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!  

Councillor Anne Horn - #ScotWomenStand Role Model & Supporter

SNP Councillor for Kintyre and the Islands, in Argyll & Bute, Cllr Anne Horn is a highly active campaigner for equality, and the end of violence against women, as well as a supporter of renewable energy and sustainability for the Argyll & Bute communities.

*Content warning: Domestic abuse.*

Cllr Anne Horn, SNP, of Argyll & Bute.

Cllr Anne Horn, SNP, of Argyll & Bute.

I recall a defining moment at an early point in my career when I found myself on the path of a women whose story opened my eyes and clarified, within me, the feeling that I must use my voice for those who are unable, for many reasons, to find or use their own.

I found myself listening to a lady, who had recently fled her home, picked up her children barefooted from her garden and ran to safety in fear of her life at the hands of her husband. She was from a good home, her husband, a well-known and upstanding member of the community. Her children well dressed and well behaved. She had flown from her garden that day, not knowing quite where she would go. He had held a knife to her, she was no longer willing to stay silent and suffer.

At that point, I was inspired by her courage, her resolve and in all her vulnerability the strength she had found, within herself, to bring about change, to rescue herself and to begin to rebuild from a new beginning.

My own journey took a turn and I began to understand that I too had to find courage to use my voice in spaces where I could make a real difference.

Since becoming a councillor, every day has offered opportunity, often finding myself in corners, on behalf of individuals or my community, which are difficult. I brought some skills which have been useful but I’ve continually been building more. Diplomacy, tact, strength and discernment regularly feature in my work and I value the every present opportunity to work alongside others, recognising the skills and energy they bring and coming together to resolve issues and find ways to move forward.

I would encourage other women to go into local politics. There is a growing support network and it is very rewarding.

Alongside her role as Councillor, Cllr Horn is the Director of Tarbert & Skipness Community Trust, and an active member of both the Tarbert Youth Music Initative, and the Argyll and Bute VAW Multi Agency Partnership. Find out more about Cllr Anne Horn, including how to get in touch with her, on the Argyll & Bute Council website.

Dr Vikki Turbine - #ScotWomenStand Role Model & Supporter

Learning and listening as ‘Feminists in Progress’:  for a feminist political education.  By Dr Vikki Turbine


I have been a Politics Lecturer for the past 10 years. I will soon be leaving my post and academia, but that is another story for another day. 

In this blog, I want to reflect on what I have learnt as a Lecturer in a ‘Feminist Politics’ classroom.  Speaking to one of the core themes in this stage of the campaign; Understanding Politics & Democracy. 

I want to outline why I am optimistic for the future and for this campaign. 

I will also reiterate why I think this campaign is so necessary and urgent.  There is such a long way to go before women will feel willing to take the risks that standing up in formal politics still sadly entails.  

We have reasons to be optimistic about a wider context of feminism in progress.  We have seen the changes sparked by #metoo,  the marking of the centenary of some women’s suffrage in the UK last year, and have celebrities such as Jameela Jamil using their platform to critically reflect on, and raise the profile of feminism. Importantly reminding us that we are all ‘feminists in progress’. 


None of us have our feminism perfect. 

At the same time, we are reminded all to frequently of the misogynistic and racist abuse faced by women who try to bring feminist politics into the public arena.  One recent example, the abuse Kimberle Crenshaw - the theorist and activist who gave us intersectionality - faced from an anti-feminist audience member at the LSE reveals how we are also in a moment of active push back against feminism.  


Even, within education, the place of feminism - when tied to an active politics education - remains marginal and marginalised.  We are at a moment where we need alternative disruptions and voices, but where the turmoil of this moment actively attempts to close them out. 

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Indeed, the students I work with often report that my class is the first time they have had the opportunity to study feminism in any meaningful way - and, more importantly, to gain a voice for their own feminist politics. 

In my teaching, I adopt a reflective and creative process of assessment - asking students to link their voices and experiences to feminist theory and activism.  Asking them to think about why feminism is urgent in addressing the problems we face. Encouraging them to move beyond the individual to the collective.  Asking them to work together to write manifestos and make collages out of the anti-feminist politics they live.  This process reveals how much appetite there is to learn more about feminism, in a judgement free space.  And, how much learning there is to be done about what it is like to be a young person, a woman living in Scotland and the UK now. 


The young people I work with are politically engaged and want to learn.  To have the language to express their experiences.  To begin to own their experiences. 


We have so much to learn from our young people. 

Feminism allows us this opportunity - lets not waste it. 

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For any campaign that wants women to come forward and stand,  to enter into the multiple spaces that make up the political, we must have the tools not only to understand the maelstrom of structural, cultural, economic, and political constraints there. 

We must also have the analytical and critical insights that feminism give us - so that we can see how current processes create opportunities for some, and resolutely exclude others.  As Sophie Walker, the leaders of the Women’s Equality Party, said in her resignation statement ‘we need people that bruise’. 


Yet, we also need spaces in which those bruises can heal, for the collective.  We need new voices that will transform the current political context.  We need to ensure that education plays it’s role here. 

Not telling young women what they should do, but allowing them to tell those in power what they should be doing. 





Dr Vikki Turbine is a Lecturer in Politics with research and teaching interests in feminism, human rights, education and class. She tweets @VikTurbine and is on Instagram as @vikturbine. She also blogs at: https://firstgenerationfeminist.blogspot.com 

#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.


 
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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!