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Death of Ellen Wilkinson

John Simkin

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In 1945 Clement Attlee, appointed Ellen Wilkinson as Minister of Education, the first woman in British history to hold the post. Wilkinson's plans to increase the school-leaving age to sixteen had to be abandoned when the government decided that the measure would be too expensive. However, she did managed to persuade Parliament to pass the 1946 School Milk Act that gave free milk to all British schoolchildren.

Ellen Wilkinson, depressed by her failure to bring in all the reforms she believed necessary, took an overdose of barbiturates and died on 6th February, 1947.

Can one imagine a politician today taking such action?


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