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9 March 2016

The Returning Officer: Hemel Hempstead II

This seat was the first to have had a woman candidate from all three major parties.

By Stephen Brasher

Margaret Irene Corbett Ashby was the Liberal candidate in 1935 and the 1937 by-election, making this seat the first to have had a woman candidate from all three major parties.

Ashby stood in Birmingham Ladywood in 1918. She fought Richmond, Surrey, in 1922 and 1923, Watford in 1924 and Hendon in 1929. In 1944, she stood as an Independent Liberal at Bury St Edmunds, breaking the electoral truce. She resigned from the Women’s Liberal Federation in 1907, in protest at the party’s attitude to women’s suffrage, and became secretary of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. In 1909, she ran a competition to find a tune for a new suffrage hymn, an Elgar melody and “Onward, Christian Soldiers” having “proved unsuitable”.

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This article appears in the 02 Mar 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Germany's migrant crisis