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.
By August 1918 the fledgling local party had 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 elected as the Member of Parliament for Islwyn.