Jane Hutt discusses joining the Labour Party

Description

English

Jane Hutt talks about her decision to join the Labour Party, and how formal politics intersected with the other work she was doing in the women’s movement.

Do you think that it is better to work within existing systems, such as political parties, to change and reshape them, or to challenge them from the outside, suggesting entirely new ways of doing things?

Why do you think many feminists chose to associate with left-wing, liberal politics and policies (Labour) and not the right wing (Conservatives) during the 1960s and ‘70s?

Image details
Jane Hutt Labour Candidate For The Vale Of Glamorgan Seat In The New National Assembly © Getty Images

Transcript

Transcript

I was involved in campaigns in the women’s movement throughout the ‘70s and deciding to stay out of a formal political party, although I began to think more and more, should I be trying to influence things from within as well as on the outside. And I think that’s the important bridge. I was involved in women’s rights campaigns, but at one stage I was volunteering for Women’s Aid from the early ‘70s but then became the coordinator of Welsh Women’s Aid in the late ‘70s. So I had a very formal position then, rather than just being campaigning I was then a paid worker with a government grant, setting up Women’s Aid groups. In terms of legislation we were calling for in terms of domestic violence, tackling homelessness, recognition that we had to influence government in terms of women’s issues and women’s needs. I mean, to me it became more and more obvious that one had to make the decision, well, are you then going to engage more formally and personally with formal politics and eventually, potentially government? And I suppose that’s the step I made. And I’m certainly not the only one. ‘Oh, I think I’m going to join the Labour Party.’ My friend said, ‘Yes, I’ve been thinking the same thing.’ And we both joined [laughs]. There’s a woman called Jenny Lynn, who was very active in the women’s movement in Swansea, very comparable kind of set of political engagements. She was also very involved in the cooperative movement and the trade union movement. She now lives in Halifax, she left Wales. But she joined the Labour – a lot of people decided, who’d been involved actively in the women’s movement and in other political campaigns, decided to join the Labour Party in the late ‘70s, partly on the onslaught of Thatcherism. But for me it was very much, well, influence from within. I’ll also perhaps say – I mean, whether at the time I thought about it – but my uncle was a Labour councillor and I’d always thought that was something that I could learn from. The ‘70s was about being fortunate to work, to be a community worker, to work for Women’s Aid. At one stage I set up a radical bookshop and that was with a group of women and men, we called it the 108 Alternative Bookshop, I think it was. I was involved in loads of different things, I mean there wasn’t time to be involved in a political party as well.
Title:
Jane Hutt discusses joining the Labour Party
Date:
6 January 2012
Duration:
2:47
Format:
Sound recording
Language:
English
Collection:
Sisterhood and After: The Women's Liberation Oral History Project
Copyright:
© British Library
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
C1420/41

Full catalogue details

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