Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Dorothy Jewson - Feminist & Labour MP

Dorothy Jewson Norwich Labour Member of Parliament

Dorothy Jewson was born
into a well known wealthy East Anglian Liberal family.

She was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, Girton College, Cambridge and Trinity, Dublin. While at Girton Jewson became involved in Socialist politics and joined Cambridge University Fabian Society. She entered teacher training at Cambridge Training College and took a post of Assistant Mistress at West Heath, Ham Common, Richmond from 1908-1911.

Dorothy returned to Norwich and joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) and became a prominent local activist. She launched fifty nine investigations into poverty in Norwich. Her Christan Socialist beliefs made her a pacifist, oppose the First World War and later in life became a Quaker.

Jewson at the invitation of Mary MacArthur moved to London and worked for the National Federation of Women's Workers (NFWW) from 1916 onwards, she also worked closely with Margaret Bondfield. In 1921 the NFWW merged with the NUGMW and Jewson worked with the women's section of the National Union of General & Municipal Workers .

Dorothy Jewson
was elected Labour Member of Parliament for Norwich 1923-1924.

As such was among the first four Labour MP's elected to Parliament

While in Parliament her strong feminist views were expressed when she stated "modern opinion recognises husband and wife to be equal partners"

However Jewson's term in Parliament was cut short by the 1924 General election and Labours defeat, the result of the Zinoviev lie, She stood again in 1929 but failed to secure reelection.
With the ILP disastrous split from the Labour Party, Dorothy stood as ILP candidate in 1931 but was not successful

Dorothy Jewson was also a Labour Councillor Norwich City Council from 1927 to 1936,

Norwich branch of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) was established in 1894 with eighty nine members, its formation was one year after the national ILP was established and was an outpost of ILP strength into the late 1930's.

Later in life and after marriages to R. Tanner Smith who died in 1939 and the gain in 1945 to Campbell Smith Labour MP for Camlachie, who died in 1947.

Later in life she moved back to Norwich and Dorothy Jewson
died at Hellesdon, Norwich 29 February 1964. Her funeral service took place at the friends Meeting house Norwich and was followed by cremation at St Faith's Crematorium near Norwich.

New Leader ILP 24 February 1928

Women in Revolt

Letters to New Leader

Dorothy Jewson's (picture above) able article in a recent NEW LEADER voices, I am convinced, the opinions of thousands of the rank and file women of the Labour Movement.

For the last five years I have had an opportunity of addressing many women in the affiliated organisations, and everywhere there has been expressed 'a growing conviction of the need and "rightfulness" of direct representation of the women on the Executive Committee, so that there should be a direct connection between the Women's Labour Conference and the Executive Committee. Dorothy Jewson points out the gap that occurs on the important subject of State Birth Control.

Throughout England and the South of Scotland the mind of the women of all affiliated organisations is practically unanimous, but owing to the lack of any status on the E.C. and at the Labour Party Conference the women's resolutions have been again and again turned down. I know that weak-kneed vote-catching M.P.s are strong in their opposition, fearing the losing of the Roman Catholic support; but, as superintendent of the Glasgow clinic, I know, too, that Roman Catholic women desire that scientific knowledge should be at the disposal of any who desire.

Meanwhile it is up to the women of the Labour Party to demand recognition as part and parcel of the Movement, and it is up t.o the Labour Party itself to accord to their women their proper status, recognising them as one of their great assets, giving them direct representation on the E.C., and thus linking the Women's Labour Conference to the Party.
Alice M Hicks.


Miss Jewson rightly emphasises the grave dissatisfaction felt by women in the Labour Party at the treatment by the National Conference.

May I suggest that much of this would be removed if the Trade Unions could be persuaded to give serious consideration to the issues concerning women upon which they now cast hundreds of thousands of votes without any attempt to secure from their member; an expression of instructed opinion ? So long as this is the case, any attempt in the National Conference to get proper discussion and a free vote upon issues which embarrass the Executive will be practically impossible.

If the Trade Union delegates are not prepared to think out the implications of the decisions they take, the women will have no alternative but. to form a feminist party within the ranks of Labour. I for one would regard this as a lamentable alternative, but if the Executive is to be hostile, and the Trade Unions indifferent, to the deeply felt wants of women members, this course it will be difficult to avoid.

Frida Laski.
London, W.14.

In the 1924 Jewson joined Dora Russell to form the Workers' Birth Control Group. Jewson was president and Russell, secretary of the organisation. Together they attempted to persuade the Labour party to adopt the policy of government funded welfare centres to provide free birth-control advice. Worried about the impact this would have on potential Roman Catholic supporters, James Ramsay MacDonald argued strongly against it at the 1926 Party Conference and managed to have the proposal defeated.