Yesterday, in a debate at the house of commons, MP for West Ham, Lyn Brown, called for the Matchgirls' strike of 1888 to be made part of the national curriculum, recognising Louise Raw's revisionist history Striking a Light for shedding light on how crucial this strike really was in British history.
During the debate, Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey called Louise a "most excellent historian", which we can only agree with! The full transcript can be found here. Lyn Brown said:
"I am most grateful to Louise Raw, whose outstanding work first published in 2009 documents in fine detail the strike and the events leading up to it ... Ms Raw’s work demonstrates clearly that the women were the leaders of the strike, and her research in the Bryant & May archive suggests that the names of the strike leaders were Alice Francis, Kate Slater, Mary Driscoll, Jane Wakeling and Eliza Martin."
Watch a short BBC News video that features both Lyn Brown and Louise Raw speaking on this call of government recognition for this important part of women's and labour history.
Striking a Light innovatively argued that the women themselves, not celebrity socialists like Annie Besant, actually began the Strike and greatly influenced the Dock Strike of 1889, repositioning them as the mothers of the modern labour movement. It was a challenging argument, but has been incredibly well-received, as evidenced by the reviews here.
But as Louise says in the above clip, the importance of government recognition of the strike goes beyond these events...
"It's not just the matchwomen, they are just representatives of millions and millions of working men and women across the country who've played parts in history since history began, but have not been given the credit they deserve."