Biographical Directory of Parliamentary candidates

Following a reference in the Journal of Lib Dem History I recently came across the most extraordinary labour of love, a biographical directory  of   people who have been  Liberal, SDP and Lib Dem parliamentary candidates from 1945 – 2019.

This is a 20 year piece  of work by Lionel King who I find from the directory is 87 , fought  Kidderminster in  1964, Sutton Coldfield in  1970, and Walsall South 1987, is  former chair of Birmingham University Liberal Society, worked as a teacher and then TV/Media lecturer in FE and held many roles in the Birmingham and  West Midlands Party.

The directory is divided into 14 parts, by region  and gives a fascinating insight into the range of people attracted to become our Parliamentary candidates over the years. In my own constituency of Wimbledon for example I could read about Alick Kay who stood for us in 1945 and was a former independent member of the New South Wales Parliament, George  Scott who ran in 1964 who fought two parliament by election for us in Middlesborough East and West both in 1962 and who is decribed as “very tall and slim, he tended to be rather aloof in bearing, not a strong public speaker”, Alison Willott in 1992 and 1997 who was a professional concert singer and mother of Jenny Willott who became Lib Dem MP for Cardiff Central and finally Paul Kohler candidate in 2019 (and current PPC ) and his campaign to  Save Wimbledon Police station.

The collator of all this Lionel King would love to hear from candidates with more up to date information (his email can be found in the directory). You can find the directory here:

* Simon McGrath is a councillor in Wimbledon and a member of the board of Liberal Reform.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Tristan Ward 18th Apr '24 - 4:05pm

    Blimus. A labour of love indeed, and what will in the be a valuable historical document.

  • David Blake 18th Apr '24 - 7:01pm

    This is a great resource. Is there any likelihood of a new edition of the Dictionary of Liberal Biography?

  • Whilst a fantastic historical record my late father’s entry (Kenneth Vaus) is somewhat unkind and factually incorrect. His place of birth is incorrect, it fails to mention he was party chair and most upsettingly suggests he died (aged 54) from ‘weight problems’. It was cancer. Don’t know where the authors got their facts from but obviously need checking

  • Duncan Greenland 19th Apr '24 - 10:00am

    What a very considerable achievement ! Would be even more informative and user- friendly if there was an overall index so that candidates’ bios could be found without first having to know in which region they were candidates.Will contact the author to see whether (at at what cost ) this might be done ?

  • Duncan Brack 19th Apr '24 - 10:09am

    Simon, thanks for the article. And Jane, thanks for your comments, and your email, and our apologies for the mistakes. Inevitably there are going to be errors in some of the entries, and if anyone spots any others please let me know ([email protected]). We’d like to produce an index; if anyone can help with this, do let me know too. As with many party organisations, the Liberal Democrat History Group could do more if we had more people to help – volunteers always welcome!

  • Suzanne Fletcher 19th Apr '24 - 1:09pm

    This is SO interesting, many thanks to all who have worked on it.
    But warning – don’t start looking if you ought to be getting on with other things!
    I’ve posted the link onto the NE region virtual HQ, others might want to do that for their regions too.

  • Suzanne Fletcher 19th Apr '24 - 1:10pm

    Just wondering, as an aside, is there a list anywhere of party officers? I really want to know who the chair of Stockton Liberals was in 1979.

  • Big Tall Tim 19th Apr '24 - 5:00pm

    1997 – Mid Beds. 2001 – Mansfield. I’ll send some biographical details sometime over the next few weeks.

  • David Blake 19th Apr '24 - 9:34pm

    John Wyatt, who contested Bridgwater in 1974, later joined the Conservatives and I believe he became the Conservative leader of the council in Weston-super-Mare.

  • Suzanne – Elaine or Colin Banton?

  • Lee Thacker 20th Apr '24 - 8:53am

    @Jane Vaus. Sorry to hear about your experience of reading your late father’s entry. That sounds awful.

    I checked my own very short entry. There were three mistakes.

  • David Blake 20th Apr '24 - 5:19pm

    @Duncan Greenland. It would be better if it was just one sequence by candidate name, with an index by constituency. As it is there is duplication and a degree of inconsistency.

  • Paul Reynolds 22nd Apr '24 - 4:17pm

    Great post Simon ! Indeed this directory a major effort. No mean feat scouring all the sources possible. Some sources perhaps more reliable than others. eg It would seem I was a parliamentary candidate in both West Ham and Rutland at the same time in 2017, which is slightly improbable. Also allegedly I was a porter at Smithfield Meat Market. Hmmmn. Being appointed to the Board of a centre for children with severe disabilities, in my Council Ward 40+ years ago, is described somewhat more generally as ‘being interested in disabled children’ ! I am also described as ‘dir of cons’; maybe LDV readers can shed light on what that means.

  • David Blake 23rd Apr '24 - 6:55pm

    @Paul Reynolds
    In the list of abbreviations, it gives ‘dir’ as director and ‘cons’ as consultant/consultancy. Does that fit? Myself I think it’s easier to give it in full.

    Lionel King is to be congratulated for the work put into this project, but in any work of this kind there are bound to be one or two mistakes. The Reynolds who fought Rutland and Melton in 2017 was Edward not Paul: he also fought it in 2015. The constituency name is Rutland and Melton, as given in his biography, not Rutland & Stamford as given in yours. The biographies for you in the Greater London and East Midlands section are rather different, which seems a bit strange to me.

    It’s interesting that Michael White’s piece on the 2009 conference in the Guardian hasn’t been quoted. It reads: “We have had the doctrine of ‘Kill Osama’, then ‘Root them out’, ‘Bolster the Kabul government’ and ‘Isolate the Taliban'” – delegate Paul Reynolds in the Afghan debate. Except that he said “Kill Obama”. Whoops. Don’t give those healthcare knuckleheads ideas, they’ve already got them.”

  • Anthony Acton 25th Apr '24 - 9:37am

    Twickenham 1974 (both elections) – our candidate was Stephen Kramer KC not Susan Kramer who was elected MP for Richmond many years later.

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