Tag Archives: jo grimond

Deserving of more than a footnote: George Watson and The Unservile State

The Unservile StateThe announcement that the Cambridge academic George Watson had left the Liberal Democrats £950,000 in his will was one of the most surprising political stories of 2014.

George Watson was a distinguished literary scholar and a lifelong Liberal. After working for the European Commission as a translator and interpreter during the 1950s he became a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, in 1961 and remained there until he retired in 1990. As a scholar, he was known for serious bibliographical work, spirited polemics, and a traditional approach to literary criticism. He also made two forays into electoral politics, contesting Cheltenham in 1959 and Leicester in the 1979 European Election.

Watson is perhaps best remembered by Liberal Democrats, however, as the editor of The Unservile State – a 1957 volume billed as ‘the first full-scale study of the attitudes and policies of contemporary British Liberalism since the famous Yellow Book’ of 1928.

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6 British Pathé video clips of ex-Liberal leaders from 1931 to 1967

Sir John Simon speaks to the Nation. “Let us give to the Prime Minister a firm mandate in the name of the whole nation” (1931)

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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 …

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Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: “Of course the EU has to change”

No prizes for guessing which subject Nick Clegg tackles in his latest weekly letter to supporters: Europe. He rattles through the three positions: ‘calamitous outers’, ‘inconsequential renegotiators’ and ‘achievable reformers’. No prizes for guessing which he identifies with the Lib Dems. Over to Nick…

libdem letter from nick clegg

I’m writing this week’s Letter to you from Kirkwall in Orkney. Alistair Carmichael and Jim Wallace have been trying to persuade me to make the trip for a while and I’ve finally made it in order to join the celebrations of the centenary of Jo Grimond’s birth.

The big debate this week in British politics, which featured strongly in PMQs – where I was standing in for the PM (you can watch it here) – has obviously been about our future role in Europe. An issue on which Jo Grimond was a pioneer and leader.

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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 …

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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.

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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.

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