Tag Archives: shirley williams

Tonight, 8pm, BBC Parliament – Conversation with Shirley Williams

Shirley Williams is probably my biggest political hero. It was she who inspired me in 1981 when she fought the Crosby by-election. Her sharp intellect, indefatigable energy and ability to communicate with her audience have all made sure that she is loved by many of all political persuasions.

She came up to Scotland during the last few days of the horribly divisive independence referendum in 2014. It was a painful time. However, as Shirley stepped on to Dunfermline High Street, one of the Yes campaigners came across and took her hand and said how much she had always admired her. It was a rare moment of togetherness during that most unpleasant of campaigns.

I was distraught that I missed her when she came up to Edinburgh West and East Dunbartonshire during the General Election. At 86, she was still supporting and helping other women get to Westminster. 

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New Year Honours: Congratulations to Liberal Democrats

Late last night we published the news that Shirley Williams has been made a Companion of Honour in the New Year Honours.

But she is not the only Lib Dem to be honoured today.

 

Sir Steve Webb – as we will now know him – has been claimed by many to be the best Pensions Minister the country has known. Before his Parliamentary career he was Professor of Social Policy at the University of Bath, so had an unprecedented level of knowledge and understanding in his field of expertise.

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LibLink: Shirley Williams: Bring all sides together to negotiate our future with Europe

While Tory and Labour parties rip themselves apart, the Liberal Democrats have spent a great deal of time offering ideas and solutions. The latest is Shirley Williams in today’s Observer:

She succinctly sums up the mess we are in:

With every passing day, the problems confronting the new prime minister multiply. The balance of payments worsens, the pound sinks against the dollar, the London property market, no longer attractive to ambitious young bankers and financial experts, declines and Brexit begins to look more and more like snake oil.

How do we face those challenges? Well, it needs strong government and opposition:

To get through the business of negotiating an alternative to membership of the European Union, and to do so without our country falling apart, will require patience, tolerance of different and often strongly held views and good, grown-up government. None of these were evident in the bitter, brutal referendum debate. We need not just good government but a serious, responsible opposition as well.

She draws parallels with the mess of the Labour Party in the 80s.

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Shirley on peace and economic prosperity that EU offers

Shirley Williams has been out and about campaigning for us to stay in the EU in the same way as she campaigned for Scotland to see in the UK. She took part in a question and answer session in Wales based around the question “What has the EU done for us?”

Shirley’s answer was clear. She talked about how the EU had secured the peace in Europe:

The main motivation behind the EU was to end wars in Europe after the horror of two world wars and for 71 years we have not had any wars in the territory covered by the EU governments,

She said that the campaign had become too personal and vicious, deviating from what actually matters:

One aspect of it I deeply regret is that it has been much too personal,” she said. “Much too bitchy and in many ways much too involved in one issue – that is, who is going to be the next Prime Minister of this country.

I think that’s a great pity as this is a very crucial issue – they have been few more crucial since the WW2. Whatever side of the argument we are on it is a travesty and a shame to allow it to become a slanging match between two sides of one party, which is essentially what it has become. The debate has been less impressive than it should have been and we have heard too few voices saying pretty much the same things.

Then she talked of the importance of being in on the discussions, working out with our neighbours how to deal with the huge challenges of the day – and cited the Paris climate change talks as an example of what can be achieved.

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ICYMI: Shirley Williams speaking on the EU at the National Liberal Club

On Monday, Shirley Williams came out of retirement to give a speech on why Britain should remain in the EU at the National Liberal Club.

The party made very good use of Facebook Live to broadcast the event – and you can watch the speech again here.

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Watch: Shirley Williams on retirement and how the government’s attitude to junior doctors could break NHS

Shirley on Victoria DerbyshireOn Thursday, her last day in the House of Lords before her retirement, Shirley Williams spent 20 minutes talking to Victoria Derbyshire.

You can watch the conversation, which covered women in politics, social media (she thinks that “the cruellest people in society” shouldn’t be given a voice), how some were bemused by her specialism in fields not traditionally done by women, such as nuclear proliferation, how we should take thousands of refugee children and relived the previous struggle over Ugandan refugees in the 70s when she stuck to her guns.

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Shirley Williams’ impression of Donald Trump

This little gem is from last Friday’s PM on Radio 4 and probably means that my licence fee has been well worth it for these 90 seconds of Shirley wit alone. Enjoy:


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