We need to talk about mayors..
One of the things I have noticed about dames in general is that they come from all walks of life. Dames can be artists, mathematicians, politicians, dancers, historians, sportswomen, sailors, scientists, librarians, actresses, lawyers, geologists, writers, botanists, nuns, philanthropists and meteorologists.
They can also be mayors; I’m thinking of one in particular: Dame Maud Burnett, who served as the first female Mayor of Tynemouth in 1928. She came from a Liberal background and served as honorary secretary of the Tynemouth Women’s Liberal Federation from 1895 to 1910. In 1902, Burnett founded a Tynemouth branch of the Women’s Local Government Society, standing for election to the municipal council in 1909. Although defeated, she was returned the next year with the support of the Liberal Society, becoming the first woman in the North of England to sit as a municipal councillor. In 1918 she was created a Dame Commander of the British Empire in acknowledgement for her work during the First World War as President of the Tynemouth War Savings Association.
But it is Elizabeth Garrett Anderson who holds the honorary title of the first woman mayor in England; she was elected Mayor of Aldeburgh in 1908. Her achievements were by no means confined to managing the burghers of Aldeburgh – she was the first Englishwoman to qualify as a physician and surgeon in Britain, the co-founder of the first hospital staffed by women, the first dean of a British medical school, the first female doctor of medicine in France, and the first woman in Britain to be elected to a school board.
I am pleased to note that youth is clearly no barrier to female mayoral status; on May 19th 2014 21-year old Rosie Corrigan from Selby became Britain’s youngest female mayor, after taking her first foray into politics to launch a campaign to get tuna paninis added to her school lunch menu. On the downside, it is somewhat disappointing to learn that Fiona Woolf is only the second woman to hold the title of Lord Mayor of London in some eight hundred years of the post’s existence.
As a Londoner, I am particularly interested in who might get elected as the new Mayor of London in May 2016, when we finally rid ourselves of the gun-toting, gaffe-ridden, promise-breaking, high wire artist impersonating incumbent. On the Labour side, there is no shortage of strong female candidates, with two having already declared: Diane Abbott and Tessa Jowell. The latter is of course a recently appointed Dame. Other potentials include Oona King and Baroness Lawrence. Margaret Hodge was considering standing but recently decided to remain a MP. I personally am delighted – in my view the Public Accounts Committee needs her even more than London.
There is one declared female Conservative, the current deputy to Boris, Victoria Borwick. I had not even heard of her till I started researching this blog – had anyone else?
I assume UKIP have yet to find a candidate that cleans behind the fridge.
Damesnet hereby invites proposals for eligible candidates from our readers – the floor is open.