Mildred Gordon (politician)

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Mildred Gordon
Member of Parliament for Bow and Poplar
In office
11 June 1987 – 30 April 1997
Preceded by Ian Mikardo
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born Mildred Fellerman
(1923-08-24)24 August 1923
Stepney, London, UK
Died 8 April 2016(2016-04-08) (aged 92)
London, UK
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Sam Gordon (m. 1948; d. 1982)
Nils Kaare Dahl (m. 1985; d. 1996)
Children David Gordon

Mildred Gordon (née Fellerman; 24 August 1923 – 8 April 2016) was a British Labour politician.

Biography[edit]

Earlier life[edit]

Mildred Gordon was born the daughter of Judah and Dora Fellerman in Stepney in 1923.[1] both of Dutch Jewish descent.[2] Her father and grandfather were stallholders in Watney Market. Her father also served as a Councillor on Stepney Borough Council. She attended Betts Street and Christian Street Schools before attending Raines School and secretarial college. She worked in a solicitor's office, from which she was unable to get release for army service in World War II so she volunteered to be an air raid warden instead. She became a teacher in 1945 and her first post was at Nicholas Gibson School in The Highway, Stepney.[2]

The then Mildred Fellerman married Sam Gordon in 1948, in Reno, Nevada with C.L.R. James as one of the witnesses.[2] The couple lived in New York until 1952.[3] Her husband was then the secretary of the Trotskyist Fourth International, and worked as a printer, while Mildred Gordon herself continued in her occupation as a teacher. She and her husband were prevented from returning to the USA in 1952, as his passport had been taken, after visiting her family in the UK.[3] Sam Gordon died in 1982; they had one son, David. Her second husband from 1985, until he died in 1996, was Nils Kaare Dahl, who had once been asked to prepare to be Trotsky's bodyguard during his exile in Norway from 1935,[4][5] and stayed with him for two periods.[1][6]

Before being elected to Parliament, Gordon had been a school governor, governor of Hackney College, and a visiting typewriting teacher, retraining women in Holloway prison. Gordon had also been the adviser on older women to the Greater London Council's Women's Committee, during Ken Livingstone's tenure as Leader of the GLC.

Labour Party MP[edit]

A long time Labour Party activist, Gordon had been a Labour candidate for Hendon Council, the Greater London Council and the European Parliament in the first direct elections in 1979. She joined the executive of the London Labour party in 1983.[2] After leaving teaching in 1985, Gordon was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Bow and Poplar in 1987, with a majority in excess of 4,000 despite a strong showing from the Liberals who had won Tower Hamlets Council the year before. In her maiden speech in the Commons, Gordon said: "The mark of a civilised society is that it is one in which people can expect to be decently housed and clothed, to have enough to eat and to have access to healthcare and to education for their children".[2]

Tony Benn, in his diary, summarised Gordon's contribution at a meeting of the Campaign Group in February 1989, shortly after the Iranian fatwa against Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses was announced. In Gordon's opinion, he wrote, "all fundamentalists and all established churches were enemies of the workers and the people. All religions were reactionary forces keeping the people down and denying the aspirations of working people. She opposed all blasphemy laws".[7]

At the 1997 general election, the constituency was abolished and Gordon was not selected for either of the successor seats, being succeeded by Jim Fitzpatrick in Poplar and Canning Town while Oona King was selected for Bethnal Green and Bow.

Later life[edit]

Gordon was awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Tower Hamlets in 1999.[2] In 2006, Gordon opened a new block of flats called Thirza House in Shadwell for older people, which was built by Tower Hamlets Community Housing (THCH), a local Housing Association based in the south-west corner of her former constituency.

Gordon died in April 2016 at the age of 92.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Mildred Gordon, MP – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Langdon, Julia (18 April 2016). "Mildred Gordon obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 April 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Gordon, Mildred (Autumn 1993). "Sam Gordon (1910-1982): Scientific Socialist". Revolutionary History (5:1). 
  4. ^ http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/telegraphs-244-word-correction-over-mp-mildred-gordon-obituary/
  5. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2016/04/14/mildred-gordon-mp---obituary/
  6. ^ Crawford, Ted. "Nils Kaare Dahl (1909–1996)". Revolutionary History. Retrieved 16 April 2016. 
  7. ^ Benn, Tony (1992). End of an Era: Diaries, 1980–1990. Hutchinson. pp. 750–51. 
  8. ^ East London News, Former Bow & Poplar MP Mildred Gordon dies

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ian Mikardo
Member of Parliament for Bow and Poplar
19871997
Constituency abolished