1965: Alice Cullen MP, ‘cham­pion of the slum dweller’

The Herald - - OPINION -


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.”

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