Mary Honeyball

Immersed in politics for most of her life, Mary Honeyball spent nearly twenty years as a Member of the European Parliament from 2000 – 2019. She has first-hand knowledge of government, especially the legislative process, and an insider view of the EU/UK Brexit arrangements. Living in and London and having represented the capital in Europe, Mary is well placed to follow important affairs of state as they unfold. She has a range of contacts in the European Union, the Labour Party and beyond.

Mary is an ardent campaigner for women’s rights and served as Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Gender Equality Committee. She authored a ground-breaking report on human trafficking and sexual exploitation which recommended that the buyer of sexual services (almost always a man) should be criminalised not the victim who is invariably female. Mary continues to work to eliminate violence against women. She was a key player in EU measures to ensure there are more women on the boards of top companies. Mary produced the first directory of women Members of the European Parliament and believes there is a strong need for more women in government at all levels.

Mary’s other main interest is cultural policy, especially copyright and intellectual property. She is a member of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) and sits on one of the organisation’s committees. She is also on the board of the UK Coalition for Cultural Diversity (UKCCD). Mary was one of the leading MEPs who ensured that the EU Copyright Directive was adopted by the European Parliament.

Mary is an accomplished media performer having regularly appeared on news and current affairs programmes while an MEP and is a regular contributor to the New European. She has written two books Parliamentary Pioneers – Labour Women MPs 1918 – 1945 and a biography of Dr Edith Summerskill, Edith Summerskill: The Life and Times of a Pioneering Feminist Labour MP.


Edith Summerskill: The Life and Times of a Pioneering Feminist Labour MP

Mary Honeyball

Edith Summerskill was a remarkable politician, feminist, physician, campaigner and writer. At a time when there were few powerful women in public life, Dr Edith, as she was known, served in Clement Attlee’s transformational post-war Labour government and oversaw the National Insurance scheme which solidified the welfare state in Britain.

Here, Mary Honeyball provides the first biography of this remarkable early pioneer for women in politics. Honeyball shows how Edith Summerskill’s direct campaigning was instrumental in promoting women’s causes throughout her life and lays out her remarkable achievements in securing the equal rights of housewives and divorced women over property. This is an uplifting and enlightening account of a forgotten Labour hero.

Parliamentary Pioneers: Labour Women MPs 1918-1945

Mary Honeyball

Parliamentary Pioneers: Labour Women MPs 1918-1945 is a compelling account of the trailblazers who laid the foundations for women having an influential voice in the House of Commons, telling the story of the issues these first MPs championed, the challenges they faced and the lives they led. This doughty group of women, tough and individualistic as they all were, maintained their independence both in their politics and in their personal lives.

The election of Labour women to the House of Commons meant that females representing the working classes now joined their male counterparts in articulating Labour concerns in Parliament, still very much a bastion of Edwardian wealth and privilege. The hallowed Chamber regularly echoed with voices that cared passionately about social issues – issues guaranteed to upset the resident delicate gentlemen not used to such talk.

Told through the prism of key contemporary issues, such as working-class women’s fight for birth control in the 1920s and 30s, this book brings to life the little known history of these first Labour women to sit in the House of Commons. Fair representation for women at Westminster has proved to be a long haul. It was not until the Labour landslide of 1997 that over 100 Labour women were returned to the House of Commons much is owed to the original Parliamentary Pioneers.