By Paul Coslett
Bessie Braddock, the embodiment of socialist Liverpool campaigning, is to be honoured with a statue at Lime Street Station.
Bessie Braddock, the MP for Liverpool Exchange for 24 years, is one of the city’s most legendary political figures.
Known as 'Battling Bessie', she is to be honoured alongside Ken Dodd with a statue at Liverpool's Lime Street Station.
Born in Liverpool in 1899 her mother Mary Bamber was committed to helping the local poor and at three weeks old Bessie was taken to her first political meeting with her mother.
An ardent socialist Bessie Braddock campaigned tirelessly for her Liverpool constituents and was regarded affectionately by them. Amongst her friends were Frankie Vaughan, Ken Dodd and fellow Merseyside MP Harold Wilson.
Bessie was originally a member of the Communist Party but became disillusioned and joined the Labour Party in 1922. Her husband John ‘Jack’ Braddock was also a member and later became leader of Liverpool City Council. Bessie herself became a councillor for the St Anne’s Ward in 1930, once famously taking a two foot megaphone into the council chamber to force action over Liverpool’s slums.
Much of Bessie Braddock’s politics had been shaped by her family who were active in Liverpool’s socialist scene. In her autobiography ‘The Braddock’s’ Bessie recalled helping her mother on the soup lines in Liverpool, “I remember the faces of the unemployed when the soup ran out. I remember their dull eyes and their thin, blue lips. I remember blank, hopeless stares, day after day, week after week, all through the hard winter of 1906-7, when I was seven years old. I saw the unemployed all over Liverpool.”
Bessie Braddock was elected as a Member of Parliament for Liverpool Exchange in the post-war 1945 election, she was also a member of the Labour Party National Executive Committee and in 1968 was vice-chairman of the Labour Party.
Bessie Braddock also fought for the fashion rights of larger women, with measurements of 50”, 40”, 50” she understood their struggle to find clothes. In 1959 she took part in a London fashion show for larger than average women.
Bessie Braddock died in November 1970 seven months after being made a freeman of the city of Liverpool in recognition of her work for her home city. In 2003 Bessie Braddock was voted eighth in a BBC poll of Greatest Merseysiders.
last updated: 07/07/2009 at 15:15