In politics, guts is all
Born Barbara Betts, Barbara Castle dedicated her life to supporting people through politics.
During her lifetime, she was the UK’s longest serving female MP, serving Blackburn as its Labour representative in Parliament from 1945 to 1979. She went on to serve as an MEP and became Baroness Castle of Blackburn when she took her seat in the House of Lords.
Known as Labour’s Red Queen, thanks to her firmly-held socialist values, she was a powerful and pursuasive politician in an era when there were still very few women MPs in the House of Commons.
As Transport Minister in the 1960s, she introduced road-safety laws including the fitting of cards with seatbelts and the 70mph speed limit.
She also intervened in support of the women sewing machinists who famously went on strike for equal pay at the Dagenham Ford plant in 1968. It led to the 1970 Equal Pay Act, with the story later inspiring the film and musical, Made in Dagenham.
Although many thought that she might become Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, it was not to be, but she is still celebrated for her many achievements and integrity.
As Barbara famously vowed: “I will fight for what I believe in until I drop dead. And that’s what keeps you alive.”