Fyfe, Maria (1 of 2). The History of Parliament Oral History Project
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Interviewee's home, Glasgow
Fyfe, Maria, 1938- (speaker, female)
White, Dean, 1977- (speaker, male)
Part 1: [Session 10 August 2012] Maria Fyfe [MF] born on 25 November 1938. Description of childhood in Glasgow. Parent’s occupation. Moving into new housing scheme in Pollok. Moving to western Ireland during the blitz, crossing the Irish sea during World War II. Importance of religion during childhood, story about visiting Catholic churches with mother. [04.22] Time at Notre Dame school in Glasgow. Recollection of meeting between mother and school Principal Sister Mary Anthony. Comments on how much enjoyed studying English, story about reading ‘Barchester Towers’ [by Anthony Trollope]. [07:32] Recollection of how family supported Labour Party. Story about father’s role in Transport and General Workers Union and campaign to allow tram conductresses to wear trousers. [09.13] Considering what to do after leaving school. Short description of studying at Scottish Court of Commerce and then starting work at ‘Scottish Field’. Short story about wanting to be a news reporter. Story about working at the Gas Board and leading campaign for equal pay for clerks and secretaries whilst member of NALGO [National Local Government Officers Association]. Description of stopping work when husband started attending Strathclyde University. [14:30] Decision to attend university and obtain a degree and begin teaching. Talking about studying Economic History and time at university, arguing with lecturers. [17:18] Story about how MF met husband Jim Fyfe and involvement in anti-apartheid campaign. [18:36] Recollections of involvement in first campaigns for the Labour Party [for Bruce Millan]. Discussion of reason why joined Labour Party, importance of book ‘Must Labour Lose?’ [written by Mark Alexander Abrams and Richard Rose]. Story about how asked to join Council by Jim White. [21:32] Description of time as a further education teacher at Falkirk Technology College. Stories about working as a Trade Union studies teacher. [25.54] Anecdote about going on strike at the Gas Board. [27:38] Talks about being disappointed by Harold Wilson’s attacks on the dock workers. Recalls the rise of the Tory party in the late 1970s. Story about people in Glasgow supporting the miners strike. [30:18]Remarks about becoming a Councillor. Stories about time on the Council, including campaigning for female manual workers to receive equal pay to male manual workers. [34:50] Discussing decision to run for parliament, James Craigen announces will stand down as MP for Maryhill. Description of the short-listing and selection process. Short description of time as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate including death of husband. Description of campaigning as a candidate including story about campaigning against privatisation of Water Board and support from national Labour Party. [41:58 - 42:20 is closed until 2032]. [42:21] Recollection about being elected an MP and realisation that only woman Labour MP in Scotland. Explanation of how the campaign was financed. [46:40] Recollection of first days as an MP in House of Commons. Stories about finding traditions of the House of Commons odd, including story about Pink Ribbons in members’ cloakroom and attending first committee meeting. Story about raising of points of order whilst vote taking place and tradition of having to wear a hat. Recollection of story told by Neil Carmichael about the Central Lobby. [53:50] Recollection of maiden speech in House of Commons. Discussion of priorities as a new MP, including campaign against Black Listing of trade union members by the Economic League. Story about MF being black listed at Singers sewing machine factory. [59:55] Explanation of social life in House of Commons. Thoughts on the House of Commons staff. Opposition to first Gulf War and watching news on the war. [01:05:10] Campaigning in support of lone parent benefits. Description of behaviour of Whips. Annoyance at not being called to speak. Story about sitting on Poll Tax legislation committee and campaigning against Poll Tax. [01:11:15] Anecdotes about John Smith. Recollection of 1994 Labour Party leadership election. Relationship with the media. Time on the Opposition Front Bench. [01:18:12] Thoughts on women MPs and “Blair’s Babes”. Story about Clause 4 debate. [MF has corrected some of the facts stated in the interview: Jim Mearns was attending his second conference, not his first. JM proposed the Clause 4 motion, not seconded]. [01:25:35] Recollections of relationship with the constituency party and holding constituency surgeries. [01:31:56] Thoughts on living in London and description of demands of being an MP. Explanation of expenses system. [01:37:37] On not being offered directorships. Relationship with Party hierarchy and other MPs. Story about Pairs. [01:41:00] Recollections about working on committees. [01:42:50] Stories about overseas trips, one to Nicaragua and one to Palestine. Thoughts on foreign affairs and development issues.
Life story interview with Maria Fyfe (1938-), former Labour Member of Parliament.