Category Archives: Obituaries

Sir Gerald Kaufman R.I.P.

 

From Iain Donaldson, Chair of Manchester Gorton, Central and Blackley Liberal Democrats:

It is with great sadness that we heard of the death yesterday of Sir Gerald Kaufman, Member of Parliament for Manchester Gorton.

I first met Sir Gerald over 30 years ago when he visited (then) Wright Robinson High School whilst I was studying in the sixth-form.  I can honestly say that despite our having been political opponents for the many years I have known him he was a kind and gentle man whose acerbic wit was always used in good humour to promote the causes close to his heart.  He was also a devoted servant of the people of Manchester Gorton.

Over the years we have worked together where we agreed and opposed each other where we disagreed but on all occasions I found him to be as courteous as he was determined.

At this time I would like on behalf of the Manchester Gorton, Central and Blackley Liberal Democrats to convey our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Sir Gerald Kaufman and to his colleagues in the Labour Party.

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Remembering Aberfan

We end the day as we began it by paying tribute to the people, past and present, of Aberfan. Here is a newsreel of the day from British Movietone:

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Remembering Aberfan – ‘a generation wiped out’

At this moment fifty years ago, disaster hit a mining village in Gwent, Wales, as the BBC remembers:

It took just five minutes for the coal tip above Aberfan to slide down the mountain and engulf a farm, several houses and a school.

Pupils at Pantglas Junior School were just beginning their first lessons of the day when the rushing landslide of mud and debris flooded into their classrooms.

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Obituary: John David – an immense presence in the Pendle community

john-davidLifelong Liberal stalwart John David died early on Monday morning. John David was an immense presence in the Pendle community who served as a Liberal and Liberal Democrat member of Pendle Borough Council for 28 years. He was elected in May 1986 for the Fence area until retiring in May 2014 due to ill health. He was Leader of the Council from 2008 to 2010 and Deputy Leader from 2012 to 2014, and served as a highly distinguished Mayor of Pendle in 1992/1993.

A proud Welshman (not least when Wales were on the rugby field) John was a lifelong Liberal. He stood for the Liberals in Bosworth in the 1964 General Election, polling 10652 votes, almost a fifth of the total, in a seat the party had not previously contested. By the 1980s he was living in Pendle in Lancashire, running a business in Burnley, and in the 1986 Council elections Gordon Lishman (then the Pendle PPC) sat in his kitchen until, in Gordon’s words, “John signed the nomination form to get rid of me on the promise that he had no chance of election”. He won and held the seat for 28 years.

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Splendid and moving tribute to David Rendel, former Liberal Democrat MP

David Rendel at Anti-Iraq war demo 15th Feb 2003 Some rights reserved by Paul Walter

David Rendel at the 2003 London march against the Iraq war. David described voting against the Iraq invasion, in the House of Commons, as his proudest moment.

Last Monday, a memorial event was held for former Liberal Democrat MP, David Rendel. This was at the Corn Exchange theatre in Newbury. Family, friends, colleagues and former constituents of David filled the hall to overflowing.

The tributes started with a film of David’s life put together by Rachael Clarke, Deputy head of policy of the Liberal Democrats. This film included video footage and photos from David’s political and family life.

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A reminder about the memorial event for David Rendel on 4th July

David Rendel at Anti-Iraq war demo 15th Feb 2003 Some rights reserved by Paul WalterThe life and legacy of David Rendel, Liberal Democrat MP for Newbury 1993-2005, will be remembered by his family, friends and colleagues at Newbury’s Corn Exchange on Monday 4th July 2016. All are welcome at the event which will begin at 1.00pm.

Donations in David’s memory may be made to Voluntary Service Overseas or Médecins Sans Frontières (UK); there is a Just Giving page for this.

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Moving message from Tim Farron about Jo Cox MP’s murder

Our party leader, Tim Farron has just sent this moving message to Liberal Democrat members:

This morning with my kids all I could think about was the family who’ve woken up with their lives changed forever.

Yesterday a mum, who left home to do her job to serve her constituents, was cruelly and brutally taken from them. Her husband and their children are in my thoughts and prayers.

When something terrible happens, I feel it. I am not one of those who shies away from emotion. And I, like so many others, am really feeling it today.

In Orlando, when all those people were massacred for simply being themselves, the hurt was overwhelming. And here in Britain, we have seen terror on our streets and lost an incredible woman.

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Jo Cox MP


Readers may have noticed that we suspended normal posting yesterday, as soon as news came through of the tragic death of Jo Cox MP.

As a mark of respect, for 24 hours after that cruel blow to the operation of democracy, we have carried only material related to tributes to (and vigils for) Jo Cox MP.

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A selection of tweets in memory of Jo Cox MP


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Vigils will be held across the country tonight in memory of Jo Cox MP

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Jo Cox MP 1974 – 2016

As a simple tribute to Jo Cox MP, here, on video first and then in text form, is her sparkling maiden speech in the House of Commons from 3rd June 2015:

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David Rendel obituary in the Telegraph and Guardian

David Rendel at Anti-Iraq war demo 15th Feb 2003 Some rights reserved by Paul Walter
A half page obituary of David Rendel appears in the Telegraph today. You can read it here.

Update: The Guardian have also published an obituary here.

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David Rendel memorial event will be held on 4th July

David Rendel at Anti-Iraq war demo 15th Feb 2003 Some rights reserved by Paul WalterEarlier this week, we reported the sad death of former Liberal Democrat MP David Rendel.

David’s funeral will be attended only by members of his family but all will be welcome at a memorial event to be held on Monday 4th July at the Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, starting at 1.00 pm.

There will be an opportunity to make a donation to charity in David’s name – details will be announced in due course.

It is particularly fitting that the memorial event is being held at the Corn Exchange. It is an historic and striking building in the centre of the town he loved, Newbury. David led the campaign to save the Corn Exchange from closure and revitalize it as a modern arts and entertainment venue.

My photo above shows David, with the Houses of Parliament in the background, on the anti-Iraq war demonstration with other Liberal Democrats on 15th February 2003.

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Tim Farron and Paddy Ashdown pay eloquent tribute to David Rendel

On BBC Radio Berkshire’s Andrew Peach show this morning there was a great tribute to David Rendel. Andrew Peach said some touching words about the many times he interviewed David. He then played a superb clip of David in full “fighting form” defending the Newbury by-pass at its 20th anniversary in January. Then Tim and Paddy came on the line and paid superb, eloquent tributes to David.

It really is a great 15 minutes of radio. You can listen to it here on BBC iPlayer at 1′ 17″.

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David Rendel 1949-2016

David Rendel on Newbury Town Hall steps - Some rights reserved  by Martin TodAs we reported earlier, former Liberal Democrat MP David Rendel has died aged 67.

David was born in 1949 in Athens, Greece. His father was a foreign correspondent for The Times, and he was a great-grandson of civil engineer Sir Alexander Meadows Rendel, and a great-great-nephew of Liberal MP Stuart Rendel, the first Baron Rendel, a benefactor of William Gladstone, as noted in Roy Jenkins’ book “Gladstone: A Biography”.

David was educated first at Horris Hill school, Newtown, Hampshire, and then as a scholar at Eton College. He spent 14 months as a volunteer teacher in Cameroon and Uganda with Voluntary Service Overseas. Afterwards he went to Magdalen College and St Cross College, Oxford where he gained a degree in Physics and Philosophy and rowed in the record-breaking Boat Race crew of 1974.

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Tim Farron and Paddy Ashdown pay tribute to David Rendel

David Rendel on Newbury Town Hall steps - Some rights reserved  by Martin TodPaying tribute to David Rendel, former Liberal Democrat MP for Newbury who passed away last night, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:

I am hugely saddened by the loss of David Rendel. He was a committed, selfless individual who I will remember particularly for his unyielding campaigning over so many years. I will miss him.

He won a stunning by-election victory in Newbury where he and his team showed the Liberal Democrats had the fight and passion to deliver a fantastic result in a challenging political climate. It was inspirational then, and is inspirational today as Liberal Democrats fight to rebuild.

His continuing work with the party, standing again as a candidate in the 2010 and 2015 elections, and serving on the party’s Federal Executive typified the resilience, commitment and resolve with which he approached politics.

He was a friend and colleague who I know will be sorely missed by his friends, family and the party.

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Former Liberal Democrat MP David Rendel dies

We’re very sorry to report that former Liberal Democrat MP David Rendel has died. Our sincere thoughts are with David’s family at this very sad time.

Party leader, Tim Farron has tweeted:

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Lord Avebury was a giant in the struggle to outlaw Caste-based discrimination in the UK

This article is rather longer than usual but offers a different perspective on Eric Avebury and his commitment to international human rights. The author is Vice Chair of the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance (ACDA), and the President of the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK (FABO UK).

Eric-Avebury-March-2013

Lord Eric Avebury at an Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance-led protest outside Parliament on 4 March 2013 supporting legislation to outlaw Caste-based discrimination in the UK

I first met Lord Eric Avebury on 11 November 2009 at the official launch of the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance (ACDA)’s report Hidden Apartheid – A voice of the Community that he willingly hosted for us in the House of Lords. He was the first parliamentarian to respond to ACDA. That report and that historic meeting would help shape Parliamentary consciousness to do with Caste-based Discrimination (CBD) and legislation during the following, critical months.

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Obituary: Brian Niblett – Liberal Democrat ‘force of nature’

Brian NiblettVeteran Liberal Democrat campaigner, Brian Niblett, sadly passed away on 10 December following a year-long battle with cancer.

Brian Niblett came from modest beginnings, growing up in Filton, South Gloucestershire, the youngest of four children. Brian joined British Gas as an apprentice and went on to become a chartered engineer and enjoy a 22 year career with the company. His final role was as head of public relations for the Middle East and Africa before he left in 1996 to focus on politics and to set up his own PR and marketing consultancy with his partner, Lisa.

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Walter James, last surviving Liberal Party candidate from the 1945 General Election, dies aged 103

The Times (£) has reported the death of Walter James, who was the Liberal Party candidate for Bury in the 1945 General Election. As such, he is thought to be the last Liberal candidate from 1945 to pass on, leaving, it is believed, just two candidates surviving from that election, both of them from the Labour party: Denis Healey and Jeremy Hutchinson, now Baron Hutchinson of Lullington.

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Philip Vince RIP. A life time of discreet service.

philip vinceIf you have been a member of the Liberal Democrats, at any level, then the likelihood is you will have met Philip Vince or maybe you will have had a handwritten note from Philip in immaculate spider-small handwriting; if you attended any Federal Party Conference and before that Liberal Assemblies since at least 1957 then chances are you saw or met Philip Vince. For someone who never stood for public office his impact and commitment were unrivalled.

Despite that, constructing this biography has been a work of many conversations, tiny snippets of information, leads, contacts, shared insights – Philip was known by many people across the organisations that he involved himself with, but it is also true to say that very few people really knew him well.

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Tribute to Jeremy Thorpe

NPG x167152; Jeremy Thorpe by Walter Bird, Copyright National POrtrait Gallery, London some rights reservedJeremy Thorpe’s funeral was held last Wednesday at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster. It was attended by around 400 people including all five leaders of the Liberal party and the Liberal Democrats who succeeded Jeremy Thorpe: David Steel, Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy, Ming Campbell and Nick Clegg. There was a gathering afterwards at the National Liberal Club. The following tribute was delivered at the funeral by Nick Harvey MP, and is reproduced here at his suggestion.

It is a great honour to be asked to say a few words today about the political life and times of Jeremy Thorpe, though I do so with considerable humility as many present here witnessed and lived the Thorpe era first hand, whereas I was still at school at the time.

To describe Jeremy’s footsteps as giant ones in which to follow in North Devon would be a huge understatement.

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Jeremy Thorpe – a life in videos

As a companion to my earlier picture post, here are some videos embedded from YouTube featuring Jeremy Thorpe.

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Jeremy Thorpe – a life in pictures

There are a host of fantastic photographs of Jeremy Thorpe in the archives. He had a real sense of showmanship to which photographers responded. Here are a few images which reflect his life.

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Former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe dies

jeremy thorpe_2The party website records the passing of former Liberal Party leader, Jeremy Thorpe, who died today aged 85:

Mr Thorpe died today (4 December) at his home in London. He had battled with Parkinson’s Disease for more than 35 years. He was elected as Liberal MP for North Devon in the 1959 General Election and held the seat for 20 years. Following the retirement of Jo Grimond, he was elected as leader of the Liberal Party in 1967. He was a fervent supporter of Britain’s membership of the the EU

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Obituary: Susan Taylor – Another great Liberal light goes out

susan taylorIn the early hours of Thursday 2nd October 2014, long term Liberal activist Susan Annemarie Taylor (née Annemarie Susanne Goldschmidt) quietly passed away at the grand old age of 95 in Newcastle.

Susan was known in South London as one half of a fearsome Liberal duo with husband Brian who passed away in August 2013. Along with Brian she joined the Liberal Party in 1955 (having previously voted Conservative if rumours are true).

They set about persuading the good voters of Bromley that Liberal was the way to go, played a role in several famous London by-elections including Orpington in 1962 and Bermondsey in 1983, and toured the country in their trusty caravan helping Liberals all over the place include son Michael in Yorkshire and daughter Wendy in Newcastle.

Susan ran a fearsome committee room on election day. Woe betide any activist who thought they could have more than a quick sit down and a cup of tea; Susan would soon send them out again with leaflets to deliver or doors to knock until the polls shut. Although she did once famously confess that “I can’t get excited if Brian isn’t the candidate”.

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RIP Cllr Jo Stephenson, Lib Dem leader in Cumbria

jo stephensonJo Stephenson, Deputy Leader of Cumbria County Council and Lib Dem group leader, has died. The Westmoreland Gazette reports:

A LEADING Lake District politician who fell 30ft out of a window three weeks ago died in hospital last night, Cumbria County Council said today.

Liberal Democrat Coun Jo Stephenson suffered serious injuries including a broken pelvis, punctured lung and chest injuries following the incident in Windermere on July 4.

A statement released by Cumbria County Council this morning confirmed Coun Stephenson, who was the deputy leader of the authority, died in Royal Preston Hospital last night.

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Lib Dems pay tribute to Oliver Thomas

logo_lg new Liberal Democrat logoFive people lost their lives in the helicopter crash in Afghanistan last week.  Amongst them, sadly, was 26 year old Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas from Brecon, who had worked as a researcher for Roger Williams in his Westminster office.

Tributes have been paid by a number of leading Liberal Democrats.

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Tony Benn: an appreciation

imageSummer 1993. I’d just finished my GCSEs and so, like any other teenager, spent the next few weeks reading Tony Benn’s diaries from start to finish. They are an immense achievement, as was his life.

They had a pretty major impact on me: I joined the Labour Party aged 16.The effect wore off in time: I left Labour (in 1999), and the Labour Party left Tony Benn.

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Nelson Mandela – the long walk is over

nelson-mandelaBarack Obama described Nelson Mandela as ‘a hero for the world’ and it is difficult to think of another politician who was as admired globally as he was. Perhaps the only comparable figure is Mahatma Gandhi, who also began his public life as a lawyer working for the civil rights of South Africans.

However, while Gandhi practised non-violent civil disobediance throughout his life, Mandela moved towards militant opposition to apartheid. His transition in public perception from terrorist to saint has been unique.

In 1996 Mandela was granted the Freedom of the City of London. I was very privileged to be present at the event in London’s Guildhall.

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  • User AvatarPaul Walter 22nd Oct - 6:34pm
    Tim13 Well I look forward to such a connotation appearing in a dictionary. Can you spot it in a dictionary? I can’t even see such...
  • User AvatarSean Hagan 22nd Oct - 6:06pm
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  • User AvatarPeter Watson 22nd Oct - 5:33pm
    @nvelope2003 "Please name the Liberal Democrat MP who would inspire large numbers of people to vote for the party at an election." A similar challenge...
  • User AvatarNigel Quinton 22nd Oct - 5:20pm
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  • User AvatarNigel Jones 22nd Oct - 5:09pm
    Richard is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. Even if there is support for constitutional changes, it should not be voted on until Autumn 2019. As I said in...