Tate Betty


Betty Tate

Pic: In the president's chair at the OxfordUnionin 1934

Betty Tate was the eldest of four children. From 1931, she read history at OxfordUniversity, where she joined the Communist Party. In 1934, she was the first woman to sit in the president's chair of the OxfordUnion, for a meeting of the OxfordLabour Club at which the main speaker was Sir StaffordCripps.

Betty was a social worker for the London county council before her marriage to George Tate, the labour historian and Daily Worker journalist, in 1941.

After the Second World War, she organised campaigns for nurseries and for tenants' rights. Sadly, George died in 1956, leaving Betty to bring up children alone. Completed with AL Morton, George’s book “The British labour movement, 1770-1920: a history” was published the year he died by Lawrence & Wishart. It remains a monumental and valid account from a Marxist perspective of the early history of the working class movement.

Betty then returned to social work in Hackney and in 1968 moved to lecture in social administration at the LondonSchoolof Economics. Here, she attended sit-ins in support of student demands.

She was the backbone of the Hampstead section of the Socialist Sunday school, in north London, and was closely involved with the ChileSolidarity and anti-apartheid campaigns. Betty was also active in CamdenCommunist Party and was a stalwart of the Hampstead Daily Worker/Morning Star bazaar – organising, baking and making toys and marmalade well into her 90s. Her creative talents also went into painting at adult education classes. Betty Tate died aged 97 in 2010.

Source: Jean Tate, Annie Sedley and Sue Tate obituary in the Guardian, 1st April 2010

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