1965: Alice Cullen MP, ‘champion of the slum dweller’
ALICE Cullen served as the MP for Glasgow Gorbals from 1948 until her death in 1969. In the words of her entry in the newly-published The Honourable Ladies, Volume 1: Profiles of Women MPS 1918-1996, she dedicated her political career to improving living standards of the Gorbals people – especially the “woefully inadequate housing in which many lived.”
Her maiden speech focused on some of the dreadful conditions that many local families had to suffer. Too many buildings were at the point of collapse and rat-infested. Tuberculosis was rife.
Eventually, the entry reads, the overcrowded, dilapidated and insanitary tenements were replaced with high-rise flats – a change “largely brought about by Cullen’s tireless campaigning”, adds political journalist Sarah Mackinlay. “Due to Cullen’s work, more than 60 acres of slums were demolished and, by the 1960s, were replaced with modern housing and flats.” To one Sunday newspaper, Mrs Cullen was the “champion of the slum dweller”.
Mrs Cullen, a member of Glasgow Corporation before becoming an MP, was, the book continues, the first female Roman Catholic to be elected to Parliament.
In total, she fought and won seven General Elections. “Throughout her parliamentary career she strove to better the lives of her constituents and succeeded in effecting lasting change.”