Category Archives: Obituaries

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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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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