The idea of a weekly newspaper began in 1947.There were numerous attempts to axe it. I fought off at least two, and it was only thanks to the likes of David Steel, John Pardoe, and the ALC, that the treasurer was persuaded otherwise in the 1970s. Then, the party was financially bust, despite Trevor Jones delivering a string of remarkable by-election successes that transformed our political fortunes.
Had 2,500 votes been distributed differently in 1970, there would have been no Liberal MPs at all, a total wipe out. In February 1974, we scored six million votes with Liberal News printing a record 260,000 copies a week during the election.
Among my predecessors as Editor, I recall stories of Chris Booker and Richard Ingrams, of Private Eye fame, who were caught, blind drunk trying to get into party-headquarters, then in Victoria Street, late one night. Stuck on the railings, they needed a good excuse. “Look officer, we are journalists with work to do…honest. We’ve just lost our keys.”
Douglas Brown the former News Chronicle journalist saved the paper in the 1970s by printing it for far less than it was costing, losing the charges against his weekly newspaper business in Haverhill, Suffolk. It taught me a lot. I was on a news desk in Fleet Street after my three years as Editor and party press-secretary in the Commons, and I’m not alone among those who owe a lot to the struggle to get the paper out each week. It didn’t do Richard Ingrams any harm.
Liberal Democrat News is being replaced by a new monthly magazine for subscribers. Chief Executive Tim Gordon wrote about it here and Helen Duffett asked you to tell her what you wanted it to contain here.