Nicholson, Emma (1 of 7). The History of Parliament Oral History Project
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Interviewee's home, London
Nicholson, Emma, 1941- (speaker, female)
Ledgerwood, Emmeline, 1968- (speaker, female)
Part 1: [Session one: 5 August 2013] [Note: Interviewer's level is low in recording] Baroness Emma Nicholson [EN], born 16 October 1941. Introduction. Details of early childhood during WWII in Farnham. Description of how EN’s father [Sir Godfrey Nicholson [GN]] became a Conservative MP in 1931 for mining constituency of Morpeth, turning over 16,500 Labour majority. Details of GN’s reforming instinct that led to legislation providing benefits to mineworkers and their families. Mentions friendship between GN and Ebby Edwards, president of National Union of Mineworkers. Mentions GN losing Morpeth in 1935 and going on to win seat in Farnham. Details of GN’s family background. Remarks on Winston Churchill’s regret about death of GN’s brother Brigadier Claude Nicholson after siege of Calais. Remarks on accompanying GN on constituency visits. Mentions parents running a farm with their neighbours the Hurd family (including Sir Anthony and son Douglas [DH]). Mentions Airey Neave and Lord Hailsham living nearby. [10:18] Details on family’s political background. Remarks on family reaction to EN becoming MP. Remarks on MPs’ salaries and how trade union movement enabled many to enter Parliament. Remarks on post-war Britain. Comments on shock of learning about concentration camps. Comments on how family life was affected by GN being an MP. Description of mother’s charitable work. [19:34] Remarks on family’s attitude to church. Comments on music being centre of EN’s spiritual life. Mentions being deaf. Discussion of how EN appreciates music and EN studying at Royal Academy of Music (RAM). Remarks on EN’s deafness remaining undetected until a teenager. Comments on trying to get involved with Jack Ashley over issues relating to deafness. Anecdote about parents’ reaction when she spoke at a deaf school. [29:41] Description of effects of deafness during adolescence combined with deterioration in EN’s eyesight when aged 10. Remarks on not being allowed to read or play music for a number of years. Anecdote about resorting to spectacles once living in London. Remarks on limited employment prospects on leaving RAM. Anecdote about Willie Whitelaw’s [WW] wife inviting her to put on a formal dinner party. Remarks on unsuccessful attempts to find employment. [39:05] Lengthy description about applying to be a computer programmer at ICL and selection process. Anecdotes about training to be a programmer. Remarks on using music knowledge towards programming skills. Mentions not learning maths after age of eight. Comments on working for ICL. Remarks on gaining an understanding of how the workforce is isolated from decision making and the value of trades unions. Story about working in Africa then training to be a systems analyst. Mentions working on weapons forecasting system at Ministry of Defence and later at Ministry of Education. Comments on MoE’s marking methods. [50:01] Remarks on damaging impact on ICL when the Government bought a stake in the company. Mentions leaving ICL to become consultant. Mentions developing information retrieval systems. Remarks on lack of political involvement while at ICL. Comments on deciding to wait until GN left Parliament. Remarks on wanting to become an MP from age of three. Comments on spectrum of political views within EN’s family. Mentions uncle Reggie Manningham-Buller (Lord Dilhorne) [RM-B], uncle James Lindsay, cousin Earl of Crawford and Balcarres (formerly Lord Balniel). Mentions how EN learnt from books. Remarks on schools and teachers.
Life story interview with Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne (1941-), former Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament.