Transcript of the front page of The Vote magazine of 1931 – the organ of the Women’s Freedom League. From the British Newspaper Archive.
“The return of Mrs. Leah Manning—an old member of the Women’s Freedom League for East Islington with an increased Labour majority is not only a triumph for her party, but further proof of the firm hold women candidates are securing over the electorates. In acknowledging her debt to Dr. Ethel Bentham who from 1918 to the General Election of 1929 had fought so nobly in this constituency, Mrs. Manning stated that during her own election campaign she had been regarded as a prospective legislator and not primarily as a woman.
In the House of Commons—due to the excellent work of her predecessors—she declared herself astonished to find how easy it now is for a woman Member and how willing men are to initiate one into Parliamentary procedure. Mrs. Manning is a valuable addition to the nucleus of women Members. A former Headmistress of the Open-air School at Cambridge—under her control a model in organisation and efficiency—and ex-President of the National Union of Teachers, she was the first woman Parliamentary candidate adopted by that body.
“Her resignation of her Presidency on her election to Parliament, in accordance with the constitution of the N.U.T., was felt to be a great loss. Her career as a teacher has provided her with a wealth of practical experience to bring to such vital problems of the day as health, housing and education.
“Her creed includes educational facilities for every boy and girl ; a high standard of life for the workers, and the carrying out of every plan to further the achievement of peace. She would have all remember that legislation is for humanity, and that the human element must. not be lost sight of.
“Rationalization as a method of improving industry she approves if it means shorter hours and greater efficiency, and if the interests of the individual workers are not forgotten. An ardent trade unionist, she has organised women’s trade unions for many years.
“Her campaign at East Islington has widened her horizon. She admitted that until she visited this district in the capacity of Parliamentary candidate, she had not realised how desperately urgent the housing question has become. Unlike so many Parliamentary representatives, she does not regard her constituency as ” a typical London borough,” but insists that it has a personality of its own and she hopes to prove a worthy representative of its burgesses.
“During her recent campaign she was impressed by the intelligent nature of questions put by women, and found that as the days went by women who had at first shown little interest were becoming – keen on political matters. With a view to conserving this enthusiasm and organising women electors efficiently, at the close of the campaign she set in motion group meetings for women, at which political problems can be put before electors and discussed.
“During the brief time she has been a Member of Parliament the Trades Union Bill, Electoral Reform and International Arbitration have come under discussion. She considers Electoral Reform of great importance to women electors. As an ardent pacifist, pledged to support any measure to further the cause of Peace, the Debate on International Arbitration last Monday was the occasion chosen by her for her Maiden Speech, in which she declared, ” My voice is enlarged and enhanced by the feeling and aspiration of thousands of women outside this House.
“Women, especially, have a passionate anxiety that the Foreign Secretary should succeed in that path which he has carved out for this nation, the path which will lead to a day when the world shall know war no more.”
Mrs Leah Manning MP JP, 1931. She was still a magistrate for the borough of Cambridge, having been sworn in as part of the first group of women magistrates in 1920.