Opinion: Farewell to Lib Dem News

As a former Editor, I’m sad to see that Liberal Democrat News is now compiling its final issue.

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

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6 Comments

  • As said as it may be, it sounds like a monthly mag is a better idea for Lib Dem News. Hope there’ll be an online version too?

  • Tony Dawson 30th Oct '12 - 3:08pm

    So, So long, Lib Dem News
    Or ‘Pravda’ as the cogniscenti still call it.
    Another victim of the new technology?
    Or just the readers have died off?
    Keith’s mum bought a copy by mistake once
    In a newsagent’s in Bournemouth.
    She thought it was a knitting pattern booklet.

    (With apologies to EJ Thribb).

  • I was very surprised to rethe letters page that Lib Dem News was clsosing. Why had there not been an official notice. I remember as a child seeing a copy .in the 1940’s I have taken the paper since 1988 when the SDP merged with the Liberals.. We have been given no reason. I s it financial and if so, how long will the glossy magazine last ?

    Bob Jones

  • Sad to see Liberal Democrat News go.I started reading Liberal News in 1967 and during the 1990s was able to get the Liberal Democrat news sent to me abroad.

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