Cheltenham Labour Party 100 years old this year

The Labour Party in Cheltenham was founded in 1918 by the Cheltenham and District Trade and Labour Council with the purpose of electing onto the Town Council direct representatives of Labour.

A purpose we still pursue to this day nearly 100 years since the Labour Party first established itself in the town.

The values Labour stands for in Cheltenham today remain those which have guided our local party since those early days.

We believe in and we campaign for:

  • A first-class National Health Service free at the point of use
  • A decent, safe and secure society with a strong sense of community and social justice
  • The protection of public services and support for the most vulnerable
  • A strong and stable economy based on investment, growth and high quality jobs
  • The right to work, to free choice of employment, to protection against unemployment and paid at a living wage
  • The provision of readily available, decent, secure homes to rent and buy at affordable prices
  • An education system that delivers quality and equality for all to allow all the children and young people of our community to achieve their full potential

Creation and early days of the local party

In 1901 the Cheltenham and District Trade and Labour Council, which was formed 7 years earlier, held a meeting calling for the creation of a local Labour Party with the purpose of electing onto the Town Council direct representatives of Labour.

In March 1918, nearly 18 years later, over 80 people attended a meeting called by the Cheltenham and District Trade and Labour Council and passed a resolution that created a Labour Party here in Cheltenham.

On 11th August 1918, a a meeting attended by 80 people, the fledgling local party adoped the constitution and rules of the national Labour Party and elected a Provisional Working Committee of 13 men and 5 women to organise the work of the new Cheltenham Labour Party.

The first Labour Candidate in Cheltenham

September 1928 saw Cheltenham Labour Party stand its first candidate, Florence Widdowson, in a Parliamentary by-election, caused by the death of the sitting MP.

The by-election came just 2 months after the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act had received Royal Assent in July of that year giving women the equal right to vote with men at 21 for the first time.

Florence Widdowson became a Labour MP in 1945 and the first woman to chair a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons.

Since 1928, the Labour Party in Cheltenham has stood 5 women candidates in the 21 General Election and 2 By-election contests held in the town.

Other Cheltenham Parliamentary Candidates

Just 7 years later, in the 1935 General Election Cheltenham stood a woman candidate for the second time in its history.

Our candidate was Elizabeth Pakenham later to become Lady Longford. Standing in Cheltenham was the first of several unsuccessful attempts Elizabeth Pakenham made to win election to the House of Commons as a Labour MP.

Lady Longfords’ links with the Labour Party and politicians were many and included her niece Harriet Harman MP, Shadow Deputy Prime Minister. Harriet is currently the longest continuously-serving female MP in the House of Commons.

Our Parliamentary Candidate in 2005, Christopher Evans, stood unsuccessful for the first time in Cheltenham. However, at the General Election in 2010, Christopher, standing as a Labour and Co-operative candidate, was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Islwyn. and relected in 2015 and 2017 with an increased majority.

Women Parliamentary Candidates

Since 1928, five woman have stood for election as the Parliamentary Candidate for Cheltenham. Some, like Florence Widdowson and Elizabeth Packenham, have already been mentioned.

However, it would be remiss of us not to mention the other women who have stood here at General Elections since 1928.

  • 1945 – Phyllis Warner
  • 1983 – Judith James
  • 1992 – Pam Tatlow


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