Professor, Lady Margaret Hodge MP. MBE.

Life is not a short sprint but a long journey

Google was fun

What makes women different.     I think the way in which we work is really different  from men.  Cooperative, inclusive.   Less about your own ego,  more about the the collaboration needed.   Women are much better at juggling a whole lot of things, at the same time, which comes comes from juggling home and work.   Those are the things that I would point at as being an advantage.

My heritage is  Jewish, German and Austrian.   I certainly don’t consider myself as English.

A child I wanted  to be an actress and a mum.   I always think politicians are failed actors, so I ended up when I was ought to be.  I achieved that.   So I am  a mum and  I have 11 grandchildren.window view from Margaret Hodge's office

My role model when I was young was Nelson Mandela.    His resilience,sticking to his values.  He was  his incredibly  calm and forgiving.   But there were wonderful people around at that time.   Wonderful actresses of the time Vivian Leigh, Glenda Jackson

The first time I was aware that women were treated differently

was  in my very first job,  when I left university.   I was offered a graduate trainee ship, at quite a lot of money at the  going rate.   In the economics department I thought it would be quite interesting.   When I got there  the girls/ the women were only allowed to gather the information never allowed to write the report, that was left to the boys/men.   That was when it hit me.   So I went and complained to the HR, saying this is outrageous,
and I was told this is the way of the world, and if I didn’t like it, I could leave.

So I left.   I joined a women’s consciousness movement in Hackney.    It was the very early days of feminism.   That was in the sixties.

We believed that we could make the world a better place.

Lady Margaret Hodge MP

We believed we could make the world a better place

Women just bring a different perspective to everything we do.   I always say that women Ministers in the Blair-Brown government achieved things that just would never have happened if we hadn’t been there.   Maternity rights, maternity pay and introducing the “right to child care”  strategy,  which has never been let go, even with this lot.

The most important thing to me was the right to request flexible working, which was strongly resisted both by Blair and Brown.    They feared the reaction of business.   It is not just about child care, you may be carers of  elderly people.   It was a bunch of us women ministers,  with women in Blair’s office.   But it wasn’t just me, it was a group, it wasn’t just one person.

All my career there was strong discrimination, all the way through.  When I was in local government, and I had little babies then, a couple of us women had kids.   We were arguing to change the hours of our meeting, so we could put the babies to bed.   The men wanted to finish earlier, so they could get to the pub.   That was a struggle for two or 3 years years.   We won.   They couldn’t call a meeting if there wasn’t unanimity.

When  I was selected as a candidate to the Labour party in ’94, I was up against all men, and I was the only one asked about child care facilities.   It is still a very male dominated world and culture .

Politics very much  plays to the male, macho identity.

As a feminist, looking for contemporary role models, there is no one in UK politics, isn’t that awful.   My friend Harriet Harman, is a role model to others, she’s been a really important role model for younger things.   But she’s my close  mate, my friend, so I don’t really see her as my role model.

But outside of politics, the women I love are Maggie Smith and Judy Dench.    I would die for Maggie Smith.

my role models

“I would die for Maggie Smith


Maggie Smith more than  any of them  is the ultimate for me.   Then there are lots of people I like, lots of men who I take advice from and listen to.

I’ve always been good at choosing people  to support me, in particular parts of my  of my life.

My time of most learning was when I got a whole load of hassle and  allegations around child abuse and the children of Islington, which we never really uncovered.   We didn’t listen to the voices of the children.   We listened to the voices of professionals, not the voices of children.   I think I learnt most from that about how to challenge bureaucracy  and listen to  children’s voices

The Pursuit of equality is what drives me.

Racism is key, inequality of opportunity, getting rid of private schools, here in the U.K. would which would be a wonderful  thing  which we will never achieve.   Inequality on gender, compassion and solidarity, class inequality.   For me the most important thing Parliament could achieve would be flexible working, to enable child care, or care for elderly.

Life is not a short sprint, but a long journey

My advice to young women.   You have your years of child rearing. You have a long of life ahead of you in which you can fulfill a lot of potential .   Just don’t  think you’ve got to do it right away.   Having kids is incredibly fulfilling.    I just worry a little bit about the younger generation, putting it off, then finding they can’t get pregnant.   I tell my own kids, take 5 years out, 10 years out, you’ll work for 50 years.
Every body should have hinterland.     I love music, book club, playing piano. I go to concerts, go to theatre.   I love my family.   I garden like there’s no tomorrow.   I love cooking.   This is me in politics.   I can’t stand people whose whole life is only politics.  My best moment, I think if I’m absolutely honest, is having my babies.   My family I’m really proud of them.   Politically, beating Nick Griffin  of the BNP was good.  Doing the Google tax was quite fun.

“You say you don’t do evil, but you do do evil”


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