Who was the first British woman to chair a Labour Party conference?

SUSAN LAWRENCE 1871 – 1947

Susan Lawrence was one of the first female Labour MPs elected to parliament alongside Margaret Bondfield and Dorothy Jewson in 1923.

She had a background in local government being a Labour member of the London County Council since 1913.

She lost her parliamentary seat of East Ham North in 1924 but won it back in a by-election in 1926 and retained it until 1931.

However, Susan was also the first woman to chair the Labour Party Conference held in Llandudno in October 1930.

This was the conference where Oswald Mosley who was the Labour MP for Smethwick from 1926 until 1931  swept the conference off its feet by denouncing the government, drawing out the discontent being expressed at the Conference and tying it to national socialism.

Aged only thirty four, Mosley caught the imagination of the Conference and roused it.

However, his proposals for dealing with unemployment were rejected by the Conference and Mosley left the Labour Party founding the New Party and then the British Union of Fascists in 1932.

Susan Lawrence remained in Labour party politics until 1941 and then devoted her life to working for the blind.

image credit:

 Blue plaque erected in 1987 by English Heritage at 44 Westbourne Terrace, Paddington, London W2 3UH, City of Westminster

Spudgun67, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons