On Wednesday 15 November, Reading Labour Women were the guests of Matt Rodda MP at the House’s of Parliament. Matt’s Office organised a great tour for us from the amazing Helen McIver who had been a parliamentary secretary for 35 years.
Sh be was a fantastic story teller who gave us a riveting history lesson of the House of Lords and House of Commons, some suffrage stories and some backroom stories of the personalities of key politicians.
Our guide also shared much of her own personal journey which included that before her husband died 17 years ago he promised if he ever came back from the dead it would be to meet her in central lobby of the House of Commons, which to this day she is hopeful of. Sharing her personal connection to the place and history we felt very privilaged to have.
We also met with some of Reading Labour Party Women MP’s such as Annaliese Dodds, Emily Thornberry and Luciana Berger. Talking Universal Credits with Annaliese, Zimbabwe crisis with Emily and Labours Campaign for Mental Health with Luciana made for a very interesting and inspiring discussion all round.
All were welcoming and encouraging of the importance of women networks to support development, activism and political life. We also had offers from Seema Malhotra, Chair of Fabian Women and Angela Raynor to come and meet us but the timings in the end did not work out but we were grateful of the offer and hope to sort something another time.
We also managed lunch on the terrace and a trip to Matt’s office, where there was standing room only! The women who attended described the day as fun, inspiring, an eye opener and are looking forward to more networking events. Thank you all who made the day a great learning experience and networking event.
Alison Foster, Secretary, Reading & District Labour Party.