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Political career

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Open University Chancellor Betty Boothroyd.
Image : Betty Boothroyd
Date: 2002
Betty Boothroyd and her mother Mary celebrating Betty's re-election in 1974 as MP for West Bromwich West.
Image : Mary and Betty Boothroyd
Date: 1974

Born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, on 8 October 1929, to textile workers Archibald and Mary Boothroyd, Betty was educated at council schools and went on to study at Dewsbury College of Commerce and Art. In the 1940s, Betty enjoyed a short career as a dancer, but then decided to follow a career in politics, having been a member of the Labour Party since her teens.


During the 1950s, Betty spent time working in the House of Commons as a secretary and political assistant to various Members of Parliament, including Barbara Castle. She contested parliamentary seats at Leicester South East (1957) and Peterborough (1959) before travelling to the United States in 1960 to begin work in Washington as a legislative assistant for an American congressman until 1962.


Betty returned to the UK and continued her work as secretary and political assistant to various senior Labour politicians. In 1965 she was elected to a seat on Hammersmith Borough Council, where she remained until 1968. Her aim was still to gain a seat in Parliament and she contested seats in Nelson and Colne (1968) and Rossendale (1970) before winning a seat in 1973 as the Labour candidate for West Bromwich, later to become West Bromwich West, a position she retained until 2000, holding the seat in six general elections.


The second image on this page shows Betty celebrating an election win with her mother, Mary.

Political career (page 1 of 2)