Betty Boothroyd, the first woman Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom, has died at the age of 93.
According to the Daily Mail, Boothroyd was hugely respected during her former position across political aisles. She famously had a “no nonsense” style and a charming personality. Lindsay Hoyle, the current speaker of the House of Commons, said, “Not only was Betty Bootroyd an inspiring woman, but she was also an inspirational politician, and someone I was proud to call my friend. To be the first woman Speaker was truly ground-breaking and Betty certainly broke that glass ceiling with panache.”
Who was Betty Boothroyd?
Boothroyd was born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, in 1929, After getting her education at council schools, she went on to study at Dewsbury College of Commerce and Art. From 1946 to 1952, she worked as a dancer, as a member of the Tiller Girls dancing troupe. However, a foot infection her dancing career to an end and she chose to enter politics.
During the mid to late 1950s, Boothroyd worked as secretary to Labour MPs Barbara Castle and Geoffrey de Freitas. In 1960, she traveled to the US to see the Kennedy campaign. Between 1960 and 1962, subsequently began work in Washington as a legislative assistant for an American Congressman, Silvio Conte. Upon her return to London, she continued her work as a secretary and political assistant to various senior Labour politicians such as Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Harry Walston.
She ran for the Labour Party, for several seats including Leicester South East in 1957, Peterborough in 1959, Nelson and Colne in 1968, and Rossendale in 1970. She was eventually elected Member of Parliament (MP) for West Bromwich in a by-election in 1973.
In 1974, Boothroyd was appointed an assistant Government Whip and she was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1975 to 1977. She was also a member of the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) from 1981 to 1987 and the House of Commons Commission from 1983 to 1987.
In 1987, following the general election that year, Boothroyd became a Deputy Speaker under then-Speaker Bernard Weatherill. After serving in this role for five years, she was elected Speaker in 1992, becoming the first woman ever to hold the position. On July 12. 2000, Boothroyd declared to the House of Commons that she would resign as Speaker after the summer recess.
Boothroyd was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law (Hon DCL) by the City University London in 1993.