Tag Archives: shirley williams

LibLink: Shirley Williams: How Scotland could lead the way towards a federal UK

Shirley WilliamsThe Guardian posted an article by Shirley Williams yesterday, in which she writes:

The referendum decision will come at the culmination of a long period of disillusionment with politicians. The SNP, like the other mainstream parties, has attracted its own share of public frustration about centralisation and the excessive rule of Edinburgh over other regions of Scotland. Nationally, the disillusionment began with the poll tax, the decline of manufacturing in Scotland, Wales, the Midlands and the north of England during the Thatcher years, the failure of our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the financial crisis in 2008 which loaded on taxpayers the huge costs of bailing out the banks.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 20 Comments

Shirley Williams wows Dunfermline – in pictures

Shirley Williams has been an absolute star these last few days. She came to Scotland on Thursday and will be here until Tuesday night. She’s already travelled the length of the country. She spoke at the Liberal Democrat rally on Thursday night, went to Orkney for a hugely well attended debate on Friday night and was back in Fife yesterday afternoon.

She spoke to voters on the High Street where both campaigns were out in force. I’m sure the Yes campaigner with the megaphone who yelled out “Bow down to your Imperial Overlords” as we all assembled for a photo.

Shirley group photo Dunfermline

 

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

LDVideo: “Hypocrites, idealists and liars – can politics be sincere?” – watch Shirley Williams debate with George Galloway and Peter Oborne

Recently, Shirley Williams took part in a debate held by the Institute of Arts and Ideas, on the subject of sincerity in politics. Also participating were George Galloway, Peter Oborne and Philip Collins, speechwriter to Tony Blair.

We must confess to not yet having had the time to watch the whole thing but we like what we have seen, like the bit when Shirley Williams takes Galloway to task for misquoting her and he, who had been in a massive rant about how politicians were a bunch of liars, was forced to admit he’d been exaggerating to make his point.

Shirley talks about how the media contribute to false perceptions of politicians, giving an example of how someone said to her that they could never vote for her because she was all for state education yet sent her son to Eton. Shirley doesn’t have a son.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 4 Comments

LibLink: Shirley Williams on a role for Europe in solving the Gaza crisis

Many thanks to Paul Walter for bringing our attention to this piece, written by Baroness Shirley Williams for the Guardian last week.

In it, she calls for a more activist stance by the European Union, given her view that America is not, and cannot be, an effective mediator between the two sides in the Gaza crisis.

The EU, as the main financier of the Palestinian Authority, is in a position to influence the PLO and to work with the Arab League on a settlement. The US remains Israel’s essential ally, but as a mediator is hobbled by the dependence of its

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

LibLink: Shirley Williams “Europe has a duty to Gaza”

Shirley WilliamsWriting in the Guardian today, Shirley Williams says:

The tragedy of the centenary we commemorate this week is that it falls as some of the most brutal and merciless wars of those same hundred years are raging.

She refers to the current conflicts in Syria, Gaza, Iraq, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

Attacks on Belgian and French civilians, including children, by Germany’s invading army in August 1914 shocked the public and politicians in Britain and elsewhere into intervening, and many individual men into enlisting – so much so that

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Are the Liberal Democrats any closer to embracing all-women shortlists?

Womens shortlistsIt’s nearly 31 years since I joined the SDP. When I was first involved, a hot topic of conversation was how to improve the representation of women in the House of Commons. At that point, there were just 23 female MPs, or 3.5% of the total.  We are still having these discussions today. Now there are 22%, but the total has only risen by 4% in the last 3 elections. The biggest leap we have ever had came in 1997 when the numbers doubled from 60-120, with more than half …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 132 Comments

Nigel, Newark and Nostalgia

Newark CastleOne of my earliest political memories is the moment when Shirley Williams got up at Bradford in 1981 and announced that she would be a candidate in the Crosby by-election. Her talk of how sometimes in politics it was necessary to take risks, to “scale unscalable heights” gave the 14 year old me goosebumps. It was all very much “stand up for what you believe in, take risks, go and change the world” motivation.

Decades later, Shirley wrote about her decision to stand for Crosby in her excellent autobiography, Climbing the …

photo by: Dave Hamster
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 16 Comments

Shirley Williams on her mother’s wartime nursing service and role of women in World War 1

shirley williams by paul walterNext week, Shirley Williams is to take part in the Stratford Upon Avon Literary Festival talking about her mother Vera Brittain’s role as a nurse volunteer in the First World War and on the wider role of women generally before, during and after the war.

From the Birmingham Post:

Baroness Shirley Williams is incredibly proud of her “wonderful” mother Vera Brittain, whose First World War memoir has been adapted into a new BBC drama with an all-star cast.

Testament of Youth charts Vera’s personal journey from an Oxford scholarship

Posted in News | Also tagged | 4 Comments

The Immigration Bill: 23 Liberal Democrat Lords rebel on “stateless” power, 12 on child trafficking guardian

immigrationThe Immigration Bill was back in the Lords this Monday where the Government suffered two defeats. The first was to overturn the power of the Home Secretary to deprive terror suspects who had acquired British citizenship  (note, suspects, not anybody who has been convicted of anything) of that citizenship even if so doing would render them stateless.

Of the 242 peers supporting Lord Pannick’s amendment, 23 of them were Liberal Democrats. And their ranks included more than the usual Awkward Squad.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 16 Comments

33 years ago today the launch of the SDP was announced

SDP logoThe Guardian has delved into its archives to bring us the announcement, on 18th March 1981, about the launch of the Social Democratic Party.

The Social Democratic Party is to launch itself to the end of the runway next week, and even its most devoted supporters admit that they have not the faintest idea whether it will take off.

But the launching is to be conducted with military efficiency. The big names, including Mr Roy Jenkins and Mrs Shirley Williams, will be deployed across the nation to ensure maximum coverage.

The operation was announced at the Commons yesterday by Mr Mike Thomas, MP for Newcastle East. He made it clear that substantial sums of money, including £80,000 in the bank, will be available to finance it.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 36 Comments

Shirley Williams: “A separate Scotland would be a diminished Scotland, leaving behind a diminished United Kingdom”

Shirley WilliamsLast night, Shirley Williams spoke at the East Dunbartonshire Liberal Democrats’ Annual Dinner. Someone has slipped us a copy of her speech. She joins David Bowie in calling for Scotland to stay within the UK but had a little more substance to her argument. She made the point that both Scotland and the rest of the UK lose out if we leave. She talked of the opportunities Scotland’s had and the contributions its politicians have made internationally. Here is her speech in full:

It is a privilege for me to be asked to speak at your annual Liberal Democrat dinner, a privilege not just to be here in Scotland when the huge question of your future is being discussed, but also because you have an outstanding young MP in Jo Swinson, widely recognised as a rising star and now a mother as well.

She holds her constituency, as you know, by a very narrow margin. She is already one of the most respected women in Parliament.  And for me, after fifty years in politics – I was first elected in 1964 – it is marvellous to see the emergence of a new young generation of women MPs. In the devolved parliaments of Scotland and Wales, a much higher proportion of members are women than is the case in Westminster.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 46 Comments

LibLink: Vince Cable: Baroness Shirley Williams, the Lib Dem peer who defined British public life

Over at the New Statesman, Vince Cable has been reviewing Mark Peel’s new biography of Shirley Williams.

He starts off by expressing annoyance at the conclusion – and quite rightly, too, given her major contribution to national and international life over 6 decades:

She is, of course, approachable, informal, engaging and whatever else “nice” means. But “niceness” is also a dismissive put down, as in William Hague’s comment in an Oxford Union debate (quoted as the punchline of the introduction): “In politics, Mrs Williams, it isn’t enough to be nice.” And it misses the essential point, that she is an extremely interesting

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Shirley Williams on green taxes, war, crime and Theresa May’s Prime Ministerial ambition…

Shirley WilliamsShirley Williams was reviewing the papers with the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson on this morning’s Andrew Marr show.

Remembrance Sunday was  obviously discussed. Shirley described a story of a boy of 12 sent to Somme after lying his way into the Army and his mother got him sent back. Of course, by that time, he had seen so many horrors.

She also added that it’s not just the lives lost we have to commemorate:

Many get a life sentence as those injured suffer for the rest of their lives.

She described the use of IEDs as “colossally effective but deeply cruel”, a weapon that’s  inexpensive but devastating.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Danny Alexander MP writes… Trident: The UK’s voice on an international issue

I believe Trident is the UK’s last, unreformed bastion of Cold War thinking. And I believe we can adapt our nuclear deterrent to the threats of the 21st century by ending 24-hour patrols when we don’t need them and procuring fewer submarines.

This is the conclusion I draw from the Trident Alternatives Review that the Coalition Government published in July – a Review that clearly would not have happened without Lib Dems in Government.

But when the Review was published, some of our critics claimed any changes to Trident would seriously damage our relationship with the US. …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 25 Comments

Clegg, Ashdown, Williams & Hughes set out case for action in Syria

Writing in tonight’s London Evening Standard, Nick Clegg, Simon Hughes, Paddy Ashdown and Shirley Williams set out the case for international action in Syria.

After describing the horrors of  chemical weapons, they declare:

We four believe a strong response from the international community is now necessary.

Posted in LibLink and News | Also tagged , , and | 18 Comments

Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: “Trident: we need to protect ourselves from the threats of the future not the past”

libdem letter from nick clegg

Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system, divides opinion. That was apparent this week when the Government published the results of a two-year, detailed study of the alternatives.

Some people say Britain should surrender our nuclear weapons tomorrow, regardless of what threats we face. While others seem to believe it’s unpatriotic to even consider anything other than the full-scale Trident system we built for the Cold War threats of yesterday.

Personally, I think the world has changed. I am not, and never have been, a believer in unilateral disarmament. But I

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

Shirley seeks to amend same-sex marriage bill: “Equality is not the same as sameness”

There’s no doubt Shirley Williams has many admirable qualities. For example, her passionate belief in free-at-the-point-of-use health-care, her passionate defence of excellent education for all, and her quite staggering propensity for appearing on BBC1’s Question Time.

But even the best of us err. First, there was her casual dismissal of sexual harrassment (“we have got somewhat obsessed about getting very exaggerated reactions to what is silly and impolite and discourteous behaviour”). And now there’s her attempt to de-rail same-sex marriage legislation. As PinkNews reports:

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Williams has tabled a new amendment urging for a legal separation

Posted in News | Also tagged | 61 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

It’s not just the Lib Dem leadership trying to ignore the ‘secret courts’ row: the news media is too

I had an odd experience on Friday. I was doing a round of media interviews – 3 for TV, 3 for radio – previewing the Lib Dem conference. I’d been called by researchers in advance to ‘get my take’ on the key issues. Each time, I said there was a big issue on which the party leadership could expect to be defeated and which would see activists from across the broad spectrum of the Lib Dems united: opposition to secret courts. This received an “Uh-hum” response which I took for baffled boredom. And as expected, each interview in turn dwelt …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , and | 7 Comments

Conference Rally: Confessional, motivational and defiant

A conference rally without Tim Farron is a bit like strawberries without cream. When he wasn’t there telling his bad football jokes, I wondered if he’d been put on the Naughty Step for his interview earlier. But, no, he hadn’t even arrived in Brighton.

What we did have was a sense of almost cleansing, confessional, cathartic and heartfelt speeches tackling the pain of the last few weeks head on.

Nick Clegg made clear that he wanted to change the culture in the party. What he said is not new for him. He’s always been very pro equality, but this was a new …

Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged , , , , and | 2 Comments

Caron’s pick of the Federal Spring Conference agenda

Spring 2013 Federal Conference agendaIt’s just over three weeks until Liberal Democrats gather in Brighton for our annual Federal Spring Conference. This morning the agenda landed on my doorstep and I thought I’d share my highlights with you.

If you can, it’s worth trying to get there for 3 pm on Friday 8th March for the consultation sessions. This is an important part of the policy making process, where ordinary party members can have their say as policy documents are being written. Most of them are on issues which apply to the …

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

This week in the Lords: 28 January – 1 February

House of LordsYes, just as late as has been the habit recently, here’s your heads up for events in the upper chamber this week… anyone would think that I didn’t have a day of my own…

It’s another long week for our Parliamentary Party, with a nod to the recent wintry weather, but Monday sees Day 2 of the Committee Stage of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, where Tony Greaves will seek to remove attempts to place further limits on the power to require information with planning applications. Frankly, when I see …

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | Leave a comment

“It was a tough battle” – Shirley Williams on the birth of the SDP

Shirley Williams tells the story of the 1981 Gang of Four breakaway, which eventually led to the formation of the Liberal Democrats, in the first issue of AD LIB magazine, out next week.

“…we said, if we haven’t got anywhere else to go, we’ll create one.”

Those nascent views crystallised after the party’s 1981 Wembley conference which committed it to unilateral nuclear disarmament and withdrawal from the EEC and NATO. Within hours Williams, Owen and Rodgers were drawing up the plans which would lead to the creation of the SDP.

“The three of us met – not Roy, at that point –

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 11 Comments

Who Lib Dem members think are the most effective non-MPs at promoting the party

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 500 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Oakeshott, Ashdown and Pack top your list

LDV asked: Which prominent Lib Dems who are NOT MPs (eg, peers, campaigners) are doing an effective job of promoting the party to the public? Please write-in.

    Lord (Matthew) Oakeshott
    Lord (Paddy) Ashdown
    Mark Pack
    Evan Harris
    Baroness (Shirley) Williams
    Lord (Chris) Rennard
    Caroline Pidgeon AM
    Willie Rennie MSP
    Baroness (Susan) Kramer
    Stephen Tall
    Kirsty Williams AM
    Lord (Tom) McNally
    Baroness (Ros) Scott
    Brian

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 6 Comments

Lord McNally writes… Conscience and reform

Shirley Williams has recently been made Peer of the Year in one of the regular Parliamentary Awards. Eric Avebury was recently given a life time achievement award at a ceremony in the Speaker’s House. Matthew Oakeshott received praise for his persistence in pointing out that there is much in our banking system which is rotten and in need of reform. When issues affecting children are debated in the Lords it is often Joan Walmsley who holds the House with informed and practical opinion. Ditto when Margaret Sharp speaks on science, technology and higher education. Sally Hamwee and Martin …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 45 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

Listen: Baroness Williams on her moral and religious beliefs

There’s still time to listen to Shirley Williams on this week’s edition of Belief on BBC Radio 3:

The new Easter series of Belief opens with a conversation between two baronesses: Joan Bakewell and Shirley Williams.

Shirley Williams was born in 1930. Her father, the philosopher and political scientist George Catlin, was a great influence. He bought young Shirley a copy of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets when she was two years old. He also introduced her to the Roman Catholic Church. She has also been greatly influenced by the moral and political convictions of her mother the feminist and pacifist writer,

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Conference heroes and heroines

Shirley Williams – for rejecting the title of living deity with characteristic common sense in her Sabbath day speech to conference.

Evan Harris – for cutting through the cynicism of christening motions after national treasures by teasing conference with his “William Beveridge” amendment speech on the Shirley Williams motion. What next – the Conrad Russell memorial welfare reforms or the John Stuart Mill cuts in Sure Start? That’s enough naming stuff after deities living or dead thanks very much.

Pamphleteers Prateek Buch (Plan C – social liberal approaches to a fair, sustainable economy published by Social Liberal Forum) and Jo Ingold (Challenges …

Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged , , , and | 13 Comments

Chris Rennard writes… Who will win the debate between Shirley Williams and Polly Toynbee?

I spent some of last Saturday morning in the briefing session at the Lib Dem Conference with the Lib Dem parliamentary health team sitting just in front of Andrew Sparrow and Patrick Wintour (both of the Guardian) as Shirley Williams laid into Polly Toynbee’s account in their paper of a key amendment on the Health Bill. For those of us who are fed up with Toynbee’s ‘tribal’ attacks on the Lib Dems it was a joy to listen to.

Andrew Sparrow wrote a great account of Shirley’s clear rebuttal of the Toynbee attack. He tweeted that, “It …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 23 Comments

Opinion: Let’s unite behind the Protecting the NHS motion

I adore Shirley Williams, always have, always will. She’s one of my political heroes. The way she has fought for women’s rights and helped emerging democracies to develop shows a truly liberal and compassionate spirit. So that’s my declaration of interest out of the way. But I’m not alone. I’d say most of us in Gateshead this weekend feel the same way. Policy decisions we make, though, are not about her.

The future of the NHS is not something that you can pin to personalities. That’s why I was not best chuffed when Nick Clegg said this afternoon that you were …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged | 26 Comments



Recent Comments

  • User Avatarsimon 21st Oct - 7:08pm
    "Also, point to bear in mind Simon, these people you speak of aren’t immigrants. They were born here, they were educated here, they speak English...
  • User AvatarChristine Headley 21st Oct - 6:52pm
    I would have thought nomination papers available at the information desk would be useful, so any voting rep could sign for their preferred candidate, or...
  • User AvatarChris Burden 21st Oct - 6:45pm
    Before anything else, we need a Constitutional Convention one of whose tasks would be to produce a Written and Codified Constitution, accessible and comprehensible to...
  • User AvatarGF 21st Oct - 6:40pm
    "The most obvious benefit of this is it would enormously increase participation in decision-making in what is already, by miles, the most democratic of the...
  • User AvatarCharlie 21st Oct - 6:34pm
    Nigel Quinton Many people who live overseas rent out their homes. One has to look at every school, GP 's surgery , hospital etc, etc....
  • User AvatarRoland 21st Oct - 6:28pm
    I think what really underpins Rabi Martins concerns is the word 'immigrant' and the baggage it carries along with the wide interpretations and sweeping statements...