Nancy Astor was the first woman to sit in Parliament; this is true. She took her seat as a member of the Conservative Party on November 28, 1919. And so, to celebrate the centennial, the party put up a brand new statue of her outside of her former home at Plymouth Hoe. According to the BBC, the statue was made by artist Hayley Gibbs and cost £125,000, which was raised through crowdfunding.
It's somewhat of a relief that they paid for it themselves. Because Astor wasn't actually the first woman elected to Parliament. No, that honor went to that incomparable badass Constance Markievicz, the Irish revolutionary, suffragette, and staunch advocate for workers' rights. In keeping with Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy, however, Markievicz refused to actually take her seat in the British House of Commons, or participate in any parliamentary processes.
But okay, fine. Nancy Astor was the first woman to literally take her seat in Parliament. Whereas Markievicz famously advised women to, "Leave your jewels in the bank and buy a revolver," Astor once said, "I am the kind of woman I would run from." Case in point: while Astor claimed to despise the Nazi party for oppressing women, she also allegedly told Joseph Kennedy that she saw Hitler as a welcome solution to the “world problems” that were the Jews. According to the History News Network:
Astor wrote Kennedy that Hitler would have to do more than just "give a rough time" to "the killers of Christ" before she'd be in favor of launching "Armageddon to save them. The wheel of history swings round as the Lord would have it. Who are we to stand in the way of the future?"
For what it’s worth, Astor was also famously anti-Catholic, though her and Kennedy were able to get over that hump and bond over their shared anti-Semitism.
I actually started writing this post right after Thanksgiving—on my birthday, in fact, when the news was first announced. But I didn’t distracted, and didn’t want to spend my day seething over anti-Semites and the continued disrespect of my beloved Constance Markievicz. I also figured, eh, these assholes won’t be in power any longer. It’ll be fine. It’ll be fine.
Not that posting earlier would have made any difference. But it’s all still absolutely shameful.
Statue erected of first woman MP to take seat despite Nazi sympathy claims [Jewish News Reporter]
Image via LSE Library / Flickr