Tag Archives: history

Michael Moore reselected for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

Michael Moore MP with apprentices Cameron Collins and Mark Tully at Mainetti 30 08 1349 years ago today, the Liberal Party created a political earthquake in the Borders when David Steel won the Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles by-election as the Liberal Democrat History Group remembers:

In the winter of 1963-64 a vacancy arose for a Liberal candidate in the much more winnable Scottish Border seat of Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles, whose Conservative incumbent, C. E. M. Donaldson, was elderly and ailing. Steel jumped at the chance to move and in January 1964 was adopted as the Liberal candidate. He failed to win the seat from the Conservatives at the general election of that year, but nonetheless moved his home to the Borders and took a short-lived job in television with the BBC. The death of Donaldson in December 1964 gave him his opportunity. Steel won the byelection in March of the following year with a handsome majority. He held the constituency (subsequently re-drawn and re-named Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale) at the eight general elections from 1966 to 1992 before bequeathing the seat in 1997 to Michael Moore (q.v.) after more than thirty years in Parliament.

Twenty years after the by-election, David Steel announced he was stepping down as MP and Michael Moore was selected to fight the seat which he won in 1997.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

Five stories from five years – March 24th

Time, I think, to revive that part of the old Friday Five where we looked at what we were writing about on this day in previous years. Here are five posts from March 24th.

First up, a little Boris related schadenfreude from 2013: Boris has a right Mair in live BBC interview.

For most of the 10 minutes — and perhaps for the first time ever — Boris looked as if he would rather be anywhere else than beneath the glare of the TV lights. This was his reckoning, and he looked winded, lumbering like a past-his-prime former heavyweight champion. Only

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Opinion: A letter to Michael Gove

Dear Michael,

I hope this finds you well.

A confession.

Unlike Paxman, I’m a fan.

You’re an unusual Tory with unusual origins. And your passion to change education is laudable.

The 1960s Crosland reforms, implemented by your mentor Mrs Thatcher, were supposed to promote social mobility. The reality is mixed. Overall literacy and numeracy have improved. Higher education has become more accessible across class, gender and race.

But this has come at a cost. Some think general mediocrity is better than a few attaining excellence while the majority attain little. I think it’s still mediocrity. Employers lament school-leavers’ inadequate skills. Our performance in the Pisa education …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 23 Comments

Opinion: Politicians should keep out of history debates

Michael GoveMichael Gove’s intervention into the complex historical debate over the First World War was as bizarre as it was ignorant. Gove attacked ‘left wing historians’ for promoting the Blackadder (a satirical sitcom, not, unless I am mistaken, a documentary) viewpoint that thousands of young Brits were consigned to an early grave by an out of touch elite. The issue with Gove’s comments weren’t his interpretation of history, which is certainly arguable, but the idea that history and commemoration should be used to score political points.

It is the diversity of opinions and interpretations within historical scholarship which makes it such an interesting and enriching subject. One does not have to be a Marxist politically to appreciate the contribution Marxist historians have made to historical study, rather, these historians make up a small part of a multiplicity of opinions based on rigorous historical research.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 77 Comments

Opinion: Thanks to Simon Hughes and Liberal Democrat Voice for helping get Florence Nightingale back in history lessons

The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, has announced that Florence Nightingale will remain in the National Curriculum after all, reversing a decision earlier this year to boot her out.

I want to offer my hanks to Liberal Democrat Voice for letting me state my reasons why Nightingale should stay in earlier this year. Thanks also to Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, for his efforts in getting the decision re-examined. Liberal Democrats can take a particular pleasure in seeing a fellow Liberal re-instated. Florence Nightingale was a lifelong Liberal supporter, at a time when political allegiances were …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Our politicians should be dull, worthy and never seen wearing a leopard print bra

Nelson TorsoWriting in today’s Daily Mail, Dominic Sandbrook rages against the cult of celebrity and declares that “the lines between politics and show business have become dangerously blurred.” Is he right?

Today is Trafalgar Day, a celebration of the victory of our nation’s greatest celebrities, Horatio Nelson. Many may be surprised to hear Nelson described as a celebrity rather than a hero, but a celebrity he was, and he so knew it.

When, on 14 September 1805, Nelson arrived at Portsmouth to board the Victory, he could not make his way to the ship due to the pressure of crowds who wanted to cheer off their national hero. Nelson did not misjudge his own fame. He was loved by the nation and he loved their adulation. He told Thomas Hardy as he left English soil for the last time:

I had their huzzas before, I have their hearts now.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

RIP Pratap Chitnis

In memory of Pratap Chitnis, we reproduce below Mark Pack’s tribute to an unjustly forgotten Liberal Hero. The Guardian’s obituary is here.

Pratap (later Lord) Chitnis was the post-war Liberal Party’s first grassroots campaigning mastermind, whose pioneering activities laid the groundwork for the later work of better known people such as Trevor Jones and Chris Rennard.

Born in 1936 to a family with a history of Liberal politics (his grandfather stood and lost in 1906), he was inspired by Jo Grimond to join the Liberal Party himself in 1958. Chitnis first worked in the National Liberal Club’s library and then …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 4 Comments

The 1983 election: highlights and hindsight

I spent more of my bank holiday than is healthy watching the rerun of the 1983 election on BBC Parliament.

When I lived through it, I was an innocent and idealistic 15 year old. I really believed people would be so outraged that the Alliance had polled 7 million votes, finishing marginally behind Labour but with about a ninth of their seats. As Shirley Williams said, it was “absolute rubbish.” Surely we would have PR within a decade?

Thirty years on, it depresses me that we are no further forward. Westminster remains the last bastion of first past the post, for Scots …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 27 Comments

What the Liberal Democrats believe

“Tell me more about what the Liberal Democrats believe”. Whether it’s a possible new member, a potential council candidate or a new office volunteer asking, I’ve always found over the years that one of the trickier questions to answer. Not because of the inherent question, but rather because of the paucity of materials available to conveniently answer it.

There’s always been a simple short 1 or 2 sentence answer to hand (such as the slogan of the day or an extract from the preamble to the party’s constitution) or a really long answer available, such as Conrad Russell’s superb An

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 40 Comments

Not all is quite so new in the world of political messaging and behaviour change

On my way to windmill spotting in Lincoln recently, I happened across this example of an 19th century election leaflet for the City of Lincoln’s local elections:

It’s a neat example of a point I’ve made before, that what can seem new and exciting in the world of communications often is really long-established ideas in slightly new clothes.

In this case, note two particular features of the message. First, the reference to electors having previously elected Mr Page four times before. In other words, …

Posted in Campaign Corner | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

A longer watch for the weekend: Mothers of Liberty

I blogged last month about the new pamphlet from the Liberal Democrat History Group, Mothers of Liberty: Women who built British Liberalism, a series of biographies of famous women liberals, which details the contribution of women to Liberal politics from the eighteenth century to the present day.

That was launched at a conference fringe meeting, chaired by Lynne Featherstone and featuring three excellent speakers:

Posted in YouTube | Also tagged , , , and | Leave a comment

How leaflets used to look: Labour’s Citizen leaflet from 1929

Today’s leaflet in my series on old election leaflets is a centrally produced Labour party 4-pager from 1929. As with the Conservative leaflet from 1931 which I previously featured, the design may be very different from good modern leaflets, but the content has some very familiar overtones.

The May 1929 contest was the first general election in which women under 30 could vote and also one of only three elections in the modern era where the party with the most votes did not also win the most seats. Despite being slightly out-polled by the Conservatives, Labour won more seats in …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Mothers of Liberty: Women who built British Liberalism

For an organisation that looks to the past and to party politics, it is almost inevitable that the Liberal Democrat History Group’s publications are rather dominated with accounts of men. Even now, well into the 21st century, we only just have the first female Liberal Democrat ministers, whilst female Liberal Democrat Cabinet members or party leaders are still something for the future.

Posted in Books | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , and | 3 Comments

A flagship borough: 25 years of a Liberal Democrat Sutton Council

Look round the room at the next Liberal Democrat event you attend and ask yourself how many people in the room will have their names recorded in places that future political historians can find. A few, certainly, especially if they have been elected to public office.

For most, however, their contribution to a political party slips away through the cracks of the historical record, disappearing as the direct personal memories people have of them fade and then end with death.

Posted in Books, Local government and London | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Order! Order! A Parliamentary Miscellany

Robert Rogers, the Clerk of the House of Commons, is the latest in a long line of distinguished authors to have produced a miscellany of Parliamentary history, information and quirks. His volume Order! Order! A Parliamentary Miscellany is a worthy addition to that sequence.

Originally published in 2009 it has just been republished with little changed other than a new Foreword. As a result, although it is not quite as up to date as its 2012 publication date might suggest, it is still pretty fresh. Given Rogers’s background, it is also no surprise that this is primarily a miscellany of the House of Commons. The House of Lords is much the neglected partner.

Posted in Books and Parliament | Also tagged | Leave a comment

Book review: William Gladstone – New Studies & Perspectives

Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin and William Ewart Gladstone, giants of the nineteenth century, were all born in 1809 yet as Frank M Turner argues in this collection of essays Darwin and Lincoln are much better remembered today. I am sure this is true even for Liberal Democrats. In the final essay, Eugenio Biagini reflects on a 1992 Economist front cover describing Gladstone as ‘A prophet of the Left’. Gladstone’s legacy has been appropriated by Thatcherites who over simplify the Victorian Liberal view of the roles of government and private enterprise. …

Posted in Books | Also tagged | 2 Comments

How leaflets used to look: a Tory attack on Labour’s economic policies, 1931

Today’s leaflet in my series on old election leaflets is a centrally produced Conservative Party leaflet from October 1931. Ramsay MacDonald had led a Labour administration under August 1931 when it split over a Budget and economic crisis. MacDonald earned his place in Labour’s hall of infamy by then forming a National Government with Conservatives and Liberals. Only two Labour colleagues joined MacDonald in this government, so the attacks in this leaflet on “Arthur Henderson and other Socialist ex-Ministers” are, nominally at least, directed at Labour rather than MacDonald and co. in the coalition.

Swap references such as the Empire Marketing Board for current ones and the basic arguments being made in the leaflet are remarkably similar to contemporary politics:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 6 Comments

How leaflets used to look: Sutton, 1972 – no bar chart but a darn good skull

Welcome to another leaflet from the archives, this time courtesy of Sutton Council leader Ruth Dombey who has kindly provided a copy of the first Focus leaflet put out in Sutton back in 1972. It kicked off the winning Parliamentary by-election campaign for Graham Tope and was put together by Liverpool’s Trevor “Jones the Vote” who pioneered many of the campaign tactics now taken for granted.

Some of the issues may feel rather familiar and given its pioneering nature I think we can forgive the missing apostrophes and question marks… Interesting too both the level of personal detail about Graham and the inclusion of a story about what the Liberal Party believed in.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

Jo Grimond: Towards the sound of gunfire

A better understanding of Jo Grimond’s life is always a healthy corrective to some of the cartoon caricatures about right-wing lurches and Thatcherite policies that sometimes get thrown around over the views of contemporary Liberal Democrats.

Grimond was, after all, a man who talked of himself as being on the centre-left and who pushed for a progressive realignment of politics that would see a new centre-left party supplant Labour. Off and on feelers went out to those in Labour ranks during his career. And yet, he was …

Posted in Books | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Eric Lubbock: From Orpington Man to Buddhist Monk?

For many years Adrian Slade has interviewed prominent Liberal Democrats. To mark his recent decision to make his archive of the interview recordings available to researchers and other interested parties, Lib Dem Voice is running a selection of his write-ups of interviews from over the years. The latest is from 2002 and is with Lord Avebury, formerly Eric Lubbock – victor of the 1962 Orpington by-election, MP for eight years and chair of the parliamentary human right s group from 1976 to 1997.

For a few astonishing days in March 1962, the Liberal Party led the Conservative and Labour parties in the opinion polls, the only time it had ever done so since polls were invented.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , and | 1 Comment

How leaflets used to look: a 1920s Liberal attack leaflet

Earlier this week I blogged about the skilful presentation of the Liberal Party’s economic plan in a 1929 leaflet, but what about leaflets having a go at other parties? Here is how the Liberals of the time attacked Labour’s Land Policy:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | Leave a comment

How leaflets used to look: the 1929 Liberal economic plan

With the economy continuing to dominate politics, it is time to take another dip into my collection of old political leaflets and have a a look at how the Liberal Party of 1929 talked about the issue:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Tony Greaves: From angry young man to simmering old guru

For many years Adrian Slade has interviewed prominent Liberal Democrats. To mark his recent decision to make his archive of the interview recordings available to researchers and other interested parties, Lib Dem Voice is running a selection of his write-ups of interviews from over the years. The latest is with Tony Greaves, dating from 2004.

There is something a little incongruous about the notion of the Liberal Democrats’ oldest angry young man donning the ermine of a peer of the realm.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 4 Comments

Shirley Williams on the high point of her political career

For many years Adrian Slade has interviewed prominent Liberal Democrats. To mark his recent decision to make his archive of the interview recordings available to researchers and other interested parties, Lib Dem Voice is running a selection of his write-ups of interviews from over the years. The latest is with Shirley Williams, from 2002 when she was Liberal Democrat leader in the House of Lords.

Perhaps it is not surprising that Shirley Williams picks election day in October ’64 as the high point of her long political career.  That was when, after three tries, she not only became a Labour MP (for Hitchin/Stevenage) but started immediately on her ministerial path. “It was always difficult for a woman but finally all these people had voted for me. I felt euphoric,” she says.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

How well do you know the party’s MPs?

One (and as far as I know, only one) current or former Lib Dem/SDP/Liberal MP has presented a 45 minute ITV programme about venereal disease.

Can you guess who it is?

(Answer after the jump.)

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Ludovic Kennedy: a man who just missed becoming Liberal leader

For many years Adrian Slade has interviewed prominent Liberal Democrats. To mark his recent decision to make his archive of the interview recordings available to researchers and other interested parties, Lib Dem Voice is running a selection of his write-ups of interviews from over the years. The latest is with broadcaster, writer and twice Liberal candidate Sir Ludovic Kennedy from 2003.

In the 1959 general election just 2,000 votes separated Ludovic Kennedy from becoming Liberal MP for Rochdale, and possibly a future party leader.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Barry Norman on life as film critic and a liberal

For many years Adrian Slade has interviewed prominent Liberal Democrats. To mark his recent decision to make his archive of the interview recordings available to researchers and other interested parties, Lib Dem Voice will be running a selection of his write-ups of interviews from over the years. The first is with broadcaster, writer and Liberal Democrat, Barry Norman from 2003.

For British cinemagoers Barry Norman is the personification of film. For twenty-six years, with only a brief break in ‘81/’82 when he fronted ‘Omnibus’ for the BBC, he was the authentic voice …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Winston Churchill: Tory or Liberal?

Winston Churchill“I am an English Liberal. I hate the Tory Party, their men, their words and their methods.” So said Winston Churchill in 1903.

As a Liberal, Churchill held high government office and, along with Lloyd George, was regarded as one of the driving forces of Asquith’s reforming administration. Was Liberalism his true political ideology? Or should we judge his position from his re-ratting in 1924 and his long association and later leadership of the Conservatives?

Those were the questions posed in the latest Liberal Democrat History Group meeting, held at the party’s spring conference. In case you were not at conference, or were there but not able to make it into the standing room only venue!, you can now watch the meeting online:

Posted in Lib Dem TV | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

Some thought-provoking reminders of our liberal history

Alex Wilcock and I penned this list of six things* to remember for Liberal Democrat News, the party’s weekly newspaper:

Paddy Ashdown once admitted to under-estimating the importance of a party’s history: “A political party is about more than plans and priorities and policies… It also has a heart and a history and a soul”.

Yet there is no “history of the party” training session for the keen Conference representative nor history briefings for new members. So here are six snippets from the party’s history to entertain, elucidate and illustrate our heart and soul in ways that should still strike a note today.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 17 Comments

Opinion: Reflection on half a century of Liberal life

What follows is all, I admit, very self-indulgent.  It is just that when I was delivering leaflets the other day – from one of our councillors protesting against the potential closure of local rail stations – my thoughts went back to my first time out on the stump. This was well over fifty years ago and for a council election in Esher, Surrey. To my shame, I cannot remember who was standing or the result (perhaps someone out there will be able to tell me?). I have a suspicion we took the seat – if so, that was no …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 5 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarT-J 1st Nov - 12:58am
    Sorry, David, I thought I was responding to anecdotes of your experience of LibDem internal politicking with anecdotes of my experience of the Greens. Having...
  • User Avatarmalc 1st Nov - 12:01am
    The bookies now have the LibDems at odds on - 5/6 - to get less than 25 seats at the next GE - I doubt...
  • User AvatarSesenco 31st Oct - 11:55pm
    For me, the most telling observation about the Rochester & Strood byelection thus far is that Labour, if it is to form the next government,...
  • User Avatarmalc 31st Oct - 11:47pm
    The best odds on the parties to win Rochester: UKIP 1/11 Tories 10/1 Labour 80/1 Greens 500/1 Britain First 750/1 LibDems 1000/1
  • User AvatarRoland 31st Oct - 11:27pm
    @Stuart, I get your point of view and broadly agree with your assessment of the news worthiness of a public figure's sexuality. However with respect...
  • User AvatarPeter Chegwyn 31st Oct - 11:21pm
    Paul - There are 13 candidates declared so far in Rochester but no 'Bus Pass Elvis' as yet. It's generally accepted that there's a margin...