Jemima Winterstreet

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Jemima Winterstreet (1895-1969) was Prime Minister of Wiwaxia from 1936-1944 and 1952-1956. She was Wiwaxia's most influential prime minister, with many major reforms undertaken during her tenure.

Jemima Winterstreet in 1937.

Childhood and Early Years

Jemima Broomfield Winterstreet was born in 1895 to Gertrude Winterstreet, a lawyer and Alfred Broomfield. She grew up in the Old Bretton neighborhood of Fanshawe in a house that had long been in the Winterstreet family, on Magenta Street between the Cathedral and the Market Square. Though not members of the titled class, the Winterstreets were well-to-do. She attended the Villette School where her intelligence and judgement were noted - and praised - early on. When she was only 16 years old, she won a scholarship to Royal Wiwax University, and she took her exams two years early and moved to Wiwaxmouthe, where she lived with her aunt, Eliza Broomfield.

She entered the College of Philosophy and after her first year, excelled and became known for her brilliance, particularly at debate. She was, however, denied entry into the exclusive and prestigious Gesta Non Verba Society, which was at that time open only to the aristocracy of which she was not a member. The denial became a cause célèbre on the campus; there was some precedent for exceptions, but the president of the society, Verbena Simcox-Little, refused to make one for Winterstreet, claiming that "to admit Miss Winterstreet, estimable though she may be, would put the Society on the slippery slope towards unexceptionalism."[1]

For Jemima Winterstreet, the refusal of the society meant strict limits on her future - all women in any position of power, be it political, commercial or academic, belonged to one of the aristocratic university societies, whose members ensured each others' success in all aspects of Wiwaxian business and government. The refusal, which threatened to thwart her ambitions, shaped the rest of her life.

Political Beginnings

Her experiences at Royal Wiwax University had a deep effect on her; as a student and member of the Union she argued vehemently for the abolishment of entitlements for the aristocracy - and even the upper classes. Following her graduation, she enrolled in Flemming School of Law at Pagett University in Pettigrew, where she took classes from Dr. Mathilda Bathhurst, who although not a politician herself, was deeply influential in the development of the Compensatorian movement. When the group decided to put forward its first political candidates, Bathhurst approached Winterstreet, who agreed and quickly proved to be more than able at canvassing votes. She became the first Member of Parliament for the Compensation Party, representing the East-Central district of her home city of Fanshawe, which included her childhood neighborhood of Old Bretton.

First Years in Parliament

Jemima Winterstreet was the most successful candidate for the party, but not the only one who won. And she was forced into sometimes precarious alliances with the Blue Party and the Wisdom Party (the Wisecrackers). But she was a true diplomat and knew not just how to make her voice be heard, but to work herself and her party into a position whereby though they belonged to neither coalition, their votes were the ones that tipped the balance. At the same time, her campaigning for the party and other candidates, and her popularity with the press, helped increase the party's representation in Parliament ten-fold.

First Terms in Office

Within 10 years, deep dissatisfaction with the Rightists and the Party of Nobility was a boon for the Compensation Party and in 1936, the party won a plurality of votes. Jemima Winterstreet was the natural choice to lead the party. In a letter to Mathilda Bathhurst, she wrote "Whether I wish it or not, and I see and feel that this will be a great burden, I deem that I cannot refuse them; to do so would not just disappoint, it would be deeply ungrateful of me, who has pushed so hard for this. And really, in my heart, I feel there is so much opportunity to do good, and make real change that will be to the benefit of all those who are kept in their place by their so-called betters, who are really nothing worse than bullies and brigands, no matter how many titles they may have or acres they may own."[2]

As Prime Minister, she had a remarkable talent for getting things done. Under her direction, the courts were overhauled to remove the cronyism that had long held sway and long-outdated rules of protocol were swept away, leaving room for real reform. A state pension system for workers was set up; new standards for industry and wages were implemented; and the county system of elections was made more equitable so that representation matched actual population statistics. Part of her success is attributed to the fact that though her party platform called for the abolishment of the monarchy, she instead kept the opposition on her side and wangled endless and ever greater compromises by repeatedly burying the issue.

Though Winterstreet herself was wildly popular, the Compensation Party never had a majority, ruling in a coalition first with the Blue Party and then with both the Blues and the Wisecrackers.

Her second term of office was marked by backlash to her many reforms, and her attempt at creating national healthcare was rebuffed and ultimately resulted in big losses for the Compensation Party in the election in 1944.

Final Term

After eight years of Rightist rule, the Compensatorians were voted back in in 1952 and though Winterstreet's final four years exhibited none of the energy and amazing accomplishment of her first eight years, she did finally manage to establish a national health care system, which was hailed by all.

Later Years

in 1956, she chose to step down and handed the reins of the party over to her successor, Alice DeBold. She remained a force in politics however, serving in Parliament until 1960 and after that as a senior advisor to the queen as well as making many trips overseas on behalf of the government. She also taught at her old Alma Mater, Royal Wiwax University as well as holding international guest lectureships abroad at Fontjäna Ünivërsitat in Fontjäna, Karolia; Elegantia Ynideed in Zylanda and Latina Universidad, among others.

In 1963, she released her first volume of memoirs, A Life in Grey and Gold which covered her childhood up to the end of her second term. The second volume was unfinished at her death, and later published as The Strength of the Sun in 1970, with additional material by historian Louise Harvey.

She died in 1969 of lung cancer.

References

  1. The Royal Blue, Royal Wiwax University's official student newspaper, Nov. 13, 1912, p. 5 "On the Matter of Miss Jemima Winterstreet".
  2. Lucy Brand, editor. 1982 Jemmie and Matt: The Collected Letters of Jemima Winterstreet and Mathilda Bathhurst, Vol. 2, Acme-Zenith Press.