Birkbeck Politics in partnership with the PSA Women and Politics group and the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research presents…
Former Labour MP and first Minister for Women discusses a life in politics and her new memoir Going Nowhere
As Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford from 1987 to 2015, Dame Joan Ruddock had a long, varied and pioneering parliamentary career, but it didn’t always move in the direction she expected.
After her election to the Commons in 1987, Joan held three consecutive shadow portfolios and, by the time of Labour’s election victory in 1997, was thought to be on the fast track to high office. But she was overlooked by Tony Blair in his first round of government appointments, eventually becoming the country’s first Minister for Women – a role she took, famously, without pay, the budget for salaries having been finalised by the time the appointment was made.
Nevertheless, as Minister, Joan worked with fellow MP Harriet Harman to push through a radical agenda. A year later, she was sacked.
What followed was a prominent career on the backbenches, where she ran a series of high-profile campaigns, including opposition to GMOs, championing Afghan women’s rights and changing the hours of the Commons. In 2009 she returned to government as Minister for Energy and Climate Change under Gordon Brown. She retired as an MP in 2015.
Listen to the podcast from the event:
Dame Joan Ruddock now joins Birkbeck Politics Professor Rosie Campbell to discuss her new memoir, Going Nowhere (Biteback Publishing), an account of a public and political career from early radicalism and success, through personal tragedy, to significant ministerial office and a return to the freedom of life on the backbenches.
The talk will be chaired by Dr Melissa Butcher, Reader in Social and Cultural Geography at Birkbeck and Acting Director of the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research.