Saturday 21 February 2009

In her time and our time: poverty battles

Remarkable, says Dianne Hayter of the Webb Memorial Trust at a Fabian conference at LSE, that Beatrice Webb achieved what she did in her time. Even now there have been only 29 women in the cabinet, and only 8% of university vice chancellors are women, that back in the early 20th century, Webb managed to change "society's approach to welfare" with her writings, campaigning and intelligence.

While biographer Carole Seymour-Jones said Beatrice was of her time but far ahead of her time. She had to make difficult choices, the ideas of the minority report were underpinned by her experiences in the East End in the 1880s.

She had a passionate conviction that something should be done. The idea of the poverty line and that in a civilised society we should not allow anyone to fall below that line was something that Webb prmoted, said Seymour-Jones at the Fighting Poverty and Inequality in an Age of Affluence conference.

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