look-alikes: Barbara Castle

Barbara Castle

Barbara Castle (1910–2002) was a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament for Blackburn from 1945 to 1979, making her the longest-serving female MP in the history of the House of Commons, until that record was broken in 2007 by Gwyneth Dunwoody. She later became the Member of the European Parliament for Greater Manchester from 1979 to 1989. She served in the Cabinet in a number of roles, including as Secretary of State for Employment, Secretary of State for Health and Social Services, and First Secretary of State.

She helped make history when she intervened in the Ford sewing machinists’ strike of 1968, in which the women of the Dagenham Ford Plant demanded to be paid the same as their male counterparts. She helped resolve the strike, which resulted in a pay rise for Ford’s female workers bringing them to 92% of what the men received. Most significantly, as a consequence of this strike, she put through the Equal Pay Act 1970. But a year late the left of the Labour Party and the trade unions rebelled against her proposals to reduce trade union powers in her 1969 white paper, ‘In Place of Strife’.

The portrayals

Psychobitches (2013): Coming soon …

Made in Dagenham (2010): Dramatises the story of the Dagenham equal pay strike of 1968 and features Miranda Richardson as Barbara Castle. Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou was the make-up and hair designer.