Category Archives: Obituaries

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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Obituary: Stan Hardy

Stan HardyStan Hardy, who died last Thursday aged 93, was the party activist’s activist. He devoted more than 65 years to Dulwich Liberal & Radical Association and its later manifestations, to the borough of Southwark, and to the party as a whole. Although he never sought public office, Stan’s influence was high among Liberals of all classes and ages. He was also a doughty champion and campaigner for many causes, especially for the NHS and against Labour-run Southwark council.

Stan and his wife Maud, who he married in 1948, belonged to that dedicated group who kept the party alive in south London during the 1950s and into the Grimond era of the 1960s. Stan’n’Maud were ever-present at Liberal assemblies, and then Liberal Democrat conferences. It was their annual holiday, a break from the successful printing business they ran in Camberwell. They were also to be seen at most of the important by-elections throughout the country, from Orpington onwards.

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Obituary: Brian Taylor

Brian, Susan and Rebecca Taylor Brian, Susan and Rebecca TaylorBrian Harry Taylor, long serving stalwart of Bromley and Chislehurst Liberal Democrats, died peacefully in the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle on Monday 12 August aged 93.

Born in Putney, London in 1919, Brian’s political sentiments were first aroused against the Blackshirts and their targeting of Jewish immigrants in the East End of London in the 1930s. He joined the Bermondsey branch of the Communist Party in 1937, but was always more of an anti-fascist than a communist. He left the Communist Party in 1939 in …

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RIP Nikki Thomson

I first met Nikki Thomson at the inaugural party conference of the Social and Liberal Democrats, back in September 1988. You couldn’t miss Nikki: she exuded energy and determination.

A liberal to the core, she had had her misgivings about the merger of the two Alliance parties, but once she had decided to join, she threw herself into the new party with the vigour and passion that was her trademark.

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Nick Clegg and Ming Campbell add their tributes to David Walter

From Nick Clegg:

 This is such sad news. I knew David for years and he was widely loved and admired in the party. He was a gentle and patient man with great integrity and an impressive career in journalism. 

I will always remember him for his great sense of humour at the most difficult or challenging times. He will be hugely missed by all of us in the party and our thoughts are with his family.

From Ming Campbell:

David Walter was a professional to his fingertips. He was universally respected and admired by his fellow journalists and held in great affection by the Liberal

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David Walter

Yesterday, sadly, David Walter lost his battle with cancer and died in the Royal Marsden Hospital.

He was widely known in the party, having served as Director of Communications for the Liberal Democrats at Cowley Street.

Chris Rennard writes:

David was widely respected as a decent, principled and trustworthy person.

He was always positive and encouraging to work with as well as being professional and completely loyal to the party that he always supported. He had to be discreet about his party allegiance whilst working for the BBC and ITN and he was greatly respected by both those organisations and friends

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Brendan Jameson, Lib Dem leader of South Lakeland District Council, passes away

The Westmorland Gazette has the sad news:

Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has led tributes to South Lakeland District Council leader Brendan Jameson who died suddenly aged 66.

Coun Jameson, who was also a Cumbria County and Kendal Town councillor, is believed to have died in the early hours of Monday morning after a heart attack.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said: “I met Brendan many times as leader of South Lakeland District Council. He was always a true fighter on behalf of his community, making sure they were heard by Government.

“The last time I was in Kendal

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Emlyn Hooson (1925-2012)

It is with much regret that Liberal Democrat Voice has received word that Lord Hooson, former Liberal MP for Montgomeryshire, passed away peacefully yesterday.

Emlyn Hooson was educated at Denbigh Grammar School and University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, before serving in the Royal Navy in World War II. By 1960, he had become the youngest ever Queen’s Counsel, whilst rising swiftly through the ranks of the Liberal Party, chairing the Welsh Liberal Party from 1955.

When Clement Davies died in 1962, Emlyn was selected to fight the resultant by-election for a Parliamentary seat which had been continuously Liberal since 1880, and he …

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Open Thread: Tributes to Liberal Democrats who have passed away this year

This is the time of year when we look back at what the last 12 months have brought us, good and bad.

I thought it would be appropriate to take some time to pay tribute to Liberal Democrats we’ve lost this year. We’ll all know someone who has really made the difference to our lives as party members who is no longer with us. Please feel free to use the comments to tell us a bit about them and what they mean to you.

For me, the worst moment of the year so far was not the heartbreaking election results. It was …

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Tributes to David Griffiths

Nick Clegg has paid tribute to David Griffiths, former Chair of the Liberal Democrat Federal Finance Committee, Treasurer of Liberal International and the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party, who died earlier this month:

David Griffiths who had served the Liberal Democrats loyally over the years passed away aged 70 on the 3rd September 2011.

I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the many years of dedicated service David gave to the party. His many varied roles included being Chair of the Liberal Democrat Federal Finance and Administration Committee and Treasurer of Liberal International a role which reflected

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Liz Rorison passes away

As many of you know, our dear friend and colleague, Liz Rorison succumbed to a short illness on the 24th of June.

Music was such an important part of Liz’s life it is no surprise that she is fondly remembered for giving melody to the party’s liberal enthusiasm at the annual Glee Club. Nearly everyone shares the memory of her at the piano playing with huge energy and with a great big smile on her face as Ralph Bancroft led the party faithful in a rendition of The Land.

She first played the piano at an informal singing gathering at the Scarborough …

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Paul Holmes writes: In memory of Asad Shafi Qazi

Nicky Qazi, a good personal friend and political colleague, died in hospital last week aged 82. Nicky was one of those unsung heroes of the Liberal Democrats who give over a large part of their life to voluntarily pounding the streets, campaigning to spread the cause they believe in however unfashionable it may be at times.

I joined the SDP wing of the Alliance in Chesterfield in 1983 and soon got to know and admire Nicky a near neighbour who had joined the Liberal Party a few years earlier. He had a shrewd intelligence, a quiet but devastating sense of humour and was unfailingly polite and patient. I don’t think I ever saw him lose his temper although, always in private and never with rancour, he could certainly succinctly and with a sad air make clear his view of the occasional antics of some of our own colleagues let alone the opposition.

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Andrew Reeves passes away

Many Liberal Democrats are in mourning this morning after the sudden death of a long-time colleague and friend, Andrew Reeves. He died of a heart attack last night.

Andrew had a long career in the party, including working for Vince Cable in Twickenham and Lynne Featherstone in Hornsey & Wood Green and stewarding at party conferences, before becoming the party’s Deputy Director for Scotland. Andrew was always one of the happiest and kindest people on the campaigns I worked with him on, and never let the occasional inevitable moments of stress or tension sour personal friendships. He had also in recent …

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Elizabeth Sidney passes away

Elizabeth Sidney OBE (née Mudford) died on Saturday 16th April aged 87. She was an inspirational figure for many Liberal Democrats and for many women across the world.

Elizabeth possessed a stellar intellect. She was also elegant, charming, great fun and always optimistic. She believed in the imagination and ingenuity of the human race, particularly the female half of it, and was always hugely annoyed when women were described as ‘minorities’. Elizabeth recently joined the Humanist Association and will have a Green, Humanist funeral.

Elizabeth was awarded a scholarship to Oxford at 16, she completed her English degree in …

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Aberdeen Council “Giant” Ron Clark passes away

The Aberdeen Press and Journal has the sad news:

A veteran Aberdeen councillor, described as a “giant” of the community by colleagues, has died.

Ron Clark, Liberal Democrat member for Dyce, Bucksburn and Danestone, died last night after being admitted to hospital earlier in the week.

Mr Clark, who was in his mid-70s, marked 30 years of public service last year.

His council colleagues paid tribute to a hard-working character who had dedicated himself to serving his local community.

Last night Liberal Democrat council leader John Stewart said: “Ron has been a great servant for the people of Dyce for many, many years. Last

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Long-serving West Berkshire Councillor Keith Lock passes away

Liberal Democrat Councillor Keith Lock, who represented Mortimer Ward in West Berkshire, died on Saturday night in hospital in Reading, having broken his hip a few weeks ago.

Keith had been a Councillor for West Berkshire and the predecessor Newbury District Council for 38 years. During that time he had twice held the positions of Leader and Chairman of Council.

The Reading Chronicle reports:

The Lib Dem councillor, who was born in Welling, Kent, moved to Mortimer in 1969 and sat on West Berkshire Council from its formation in 1998, having also served on its predecessor, Newbury District Council, since it was

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Rachel Smith RIP

Rachel Smith first came into my life last year,  through the medium of Twitter, where she tweeted as @rachelolgeirsso. Witty and intelligent, Rachel readily engaged others in conversations about politics, life and popular culture. Although we were both active Lib Dems, we’d be as likely to exchange comments about The Apprentice or Strictly Come Dancing as about the coalition or political policies.

Rachel had been an active tweeter through the general election and the formation of the coalition, strong about the Lib Dems place in government and scathing as to what she saw as Labour’s opportunism and hypocrisy, especially where it related to her own constituency of Sheffield Hallam and her MP, the Deputy Prime Minister. So it was no surprise when in July she started blogging. The reason for this soon became clear: Rachel was looking for a distraction whilst she was in hospital, undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia.

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Simon Hughes pays tribute to Claire Rayner

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Simon Hughes has paid tribute to Claire Rayner, the NHS campaigner, agony aunt and Liberal Democrat member who died yesterday:

Claire Rayner was a wonderful, no-nonsense, agony aunt to the nation, but also she was much more than that.

Claire’s campaigning was an inspiration to millions and especially to Liberal Democrats, who were so proud that she was a member of our party.

Continuous work and campaigning to improve our National Health Service for all our patients will be the best sort of tribute our country can give her.

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Tributes pour in for Sir Cyril Smith

Lib Dem Voice reported yesterday the sad passing of Sir Cyril Smith, one of the party’s best-known figures, who served as Rochdale’s MP for two decades.

Tributes have been pouring in as a mark of appreciation for Cyril’s life. Nick Clegg issued the following statement:

“Cyril Smith was a larger-than-life character and one of the most recognisable and likeable politicians of his day. I am deeply saddened to hear the news of his death today, and offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends.

“Everybody in Rochdale knew him not only as their MP but also as a friend. He

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RIP Cyril Smith

News has just reached the Voice that Sir Cyril Smith, for 20 years Liberal (then Liberal Democrat) MP for Rochdale, has just passed away.

Just over two years agho, Lib Dem Voice published an appreciation of Cyril’s life to mark his 80th birthday:

You’ve got to come to Rochdale to understand properly Sir Cyril’s popularity. He doesn’t get out much these days, but when he does… Rochdale comes to a standstill. Many people remember the Cyril from the 1970s and early ’80s. The Cyril who was Chief Whip during the Jeremy Thorpe scandal; the Cyril who appeared on national TV alongside

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Donna Boffa RIP

Sad news has reached us here at Lib Dem Voice that Islington Councillor Donna Boffa died today after a long illness.

From the Islington Tribune:

Cllr Boffa, 43, was first elected to represent Bunhill ward in 2003, in a by-election following the death of Lib Dem Cllr Rose Wooding. She leaves behind five children.

Islington Council leader Lib Dem Cllr Terry Stacy said: “Donna was a fighter right through to the end. From the day she was elected a councillor, Donna never forgot where she came from or who she was there to represent. Donna was all about helping the people without

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Chris Clarke: an appreciation

This week sees the memorial service for Chris Clarke, former leader of the LGA Liberal Democrat Group

He was always Chris. Even when he gained a knighthood in 2005, he was just very occasionally Sir Chris. No pomposity there.

I came across Chris first of all as Leader of Somerset County Council and thus someone from one of our most successful counties and regions. He was larger than life at the Local Government Association even before he was successfully elected as Leader of its Liberal Democrat Group.

He gave clarity to the Liberal Democrat push within that organisation but also made it clear …

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Times obituary of Anna Werrin

We reported last month the sad death of Anna Werrin, the highly influential personal assistant to Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy throughout his Parliamentary career until his resignation as party leader.

Today’s Times publishes an obituary of Anna in its Lives in Brief section:

Anna Werrin, personal assistant to Charles Kennedy, was born on June 14, 1959. She died after a stroke on December 18, 2009, aged 50

Anna Werrin was the personal assistant to Charles Kennedy, and throughout his leadership of the Liberal Democrats she was his principal aide, head of office and, effectively, his gatekeeper — and

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Anna Werrin RIP

Sad news has reached us here at Lib Dem Voice that Anna Werrin has died of a stroke. Anna worked for Charles Kennedy from the year he was first elected to Parliament, in 1983, and was his head of office until his resignation as leader of the Lib Dems in 2006. She was subsequently Chris Huhne’s campaign manager in his second leadership attempt, in 2007.

On behalf of the team here at LDV, we extend our sympathies to Anna’s family and friends. Please do leave your tributes in the comments thread, below.

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Hereward Cooke dies

The Eastern Daily Press has the sad news:

Hereward Cooke, a hugely popular Norwich priest and former leader of Norwich City Council’s Liberal Democrat group, has died while at the Copenhagen climate change conference.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, announced with great regret the unexpected and sudden death of the Revd Canon Cooke.

He died in his sleep at the age of 70…

In 2000, Hereward became involved in local politics as city councillor for the Lakenham ward and went on to be leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the city council.

He retired in 2008 and in 2009

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RIP Sir Ludovic Kennedy

The BBC reports:

The author, broadcaster and campaigner Sir Ludovic Kennedy has died aged 89. A former BBC Panorama journalist, Sir Ludovic spent decades investigating miscarriages of justice, including the case of the Birmingham Six. He contributed to the abolition of the death penalty and was also president of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

Nick Clegg has joined in the tributes to Sir Ludovic, a member of the Liberal party and later the Lib Dems, for most of his life:

Ludovic Kennedy was one of the great thinkers of his generation. His pursuit of justice and his championing of sometimes unpopular and controversial causes marked him out as a true liberal. He will be greatly missed.”

Sir Ludovic was the Liberal candidate and runner-up in the 1958 Rochdale by-election, propelling the party to its highest vote in the constituency since the 1920s, with the Tories pushed from first to third place. It was the first UK election to feature televised debates between the candidates, with Granada also broadcasting the count – another first.

He quit the Lib Dems in 2001 in protest at Charles Kennedy’s refusal to countenance legalised euthanasia, even standing as an independent candidate for the cause in Devizes, Wiltshire, polling just over 1,000 votes. He later re-joined the party.

During the 1980s and ’90s, Sir Ludovic gained fame among a new generation (such as myself) through his appearances as himself in the superior BBC comedy programme, Yes, Minister, as well as his interviews with Peter Cook, playing Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, for A Life in Pieces. Here’s the first programme from that fantastic series, first broadcast in December 1990:

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Stephen Gately RIP: New beginning, sad ending

RIP Stephen Gately, the singer who rose to fame thanks to Boyzone, and who has died aged just 33. His solo career was not the soaring success he might have hoped when the Irish band split up – though three Top 20 singles is more than most of the rest of us will manage.

Indeed, it’s likely that Lib Dems will be among those most familiar with his work, for his debut solo track, New beginning, was adopted by the party as its theme tune for the 2001 general election (and used subsequently at many party conferences).

Lib Dem blogger Stephen Glenn pays fuller tribute here. Below is the TOTP video of New beginning:

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RIP Tom Blumenau

From the Guardian’s obituary:

Tom had a strong social conscience and a feeling of moral obligation towards both individuals and the wider community. He was a magistrate for 15 years, a founder member of the Social Democratic party (SDP) and active in the constituency party for the SDP and later for the Liberal Democrats. Arguably his most fulfilling work was with Amnesty International (of which, together with his wife, Eva, he was a founder member) and with its offspring, the Prisoner of Conscience Fund. He set up and later became the chairman of the St John’s Wood, London, branch of

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Ralf Dahrendorf obituary

Yesterday the Financial Times ran an obituary from Liberal Democrat peer William Wallace:

Ralf Dahrendorf, who has died at the age of 80, crowded several careers, in Germany and Britain, into a single life.

First a leading academic sociologist, then a rising Liberal German politician, director of the London School of Economics and later warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford, he combined political engagement and intellectual debate. He was successively a German minister, a European commissioner and a British peer. He was a European public intellectual; the author of nearly 30 books, and a long-standing columnist for Die Zeit and La Repubblica

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Barbara Alexander RIP

In today’s Guardian, Stephen Keeler pays tribute to former Liberal Democrat councillor Barbara Alexander:

My friend and former colleague Barbara Alexander, who has died after a long illness aged 70, was an inspirational teacher, a dedicated local councillor and a tireless worker on behalf of a number of charities. …

Both were elected to Richmond-upon-Thames council in 1990, and Barbara worked tirelessly as a Liberal Democrat councillor and school governor, increasing her workload after Gavin’s death in 1993. She was deputy council leader, sat on education and social services committees, and chaired the governing bodies of Hampton community college and Carlisle infant

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