David Steel, bombing Greenland and regulating cats

It being over four years since I last read David Steel’s speech to the Liberal Party Assembly of 1976, I thought it was time I did so again. As you do.

And yes, once again, it is the bombing of Greenland and the cats which caught my attention:

I have been leader of the Party for less than three months. During this short period I have not lacked advice on what I should do … These submissions have ranged from the useful through the exotic – such as the plea that I could end the nation’s drought by advocating the selected dropping of atomic bombs in Greenland – to the downright byzantine, such as that from the lady who was convinced that I could be sitting in Number 10 within the year if only I could persuade the Liberal Party to adopt as part of its manifesto the introduction of licensing for cats.

Greenland, unbombed

A cat, unregulated

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  • David Langshaw 8th Nov '11 - 9:31pm

    I am getting old. I remembered the cats, but had forgotten all about Greenland.

  • Lib Dem Member 9th Nov '11 - 9:24am

    Was that the same speech in which listed some of the more wonderful fringe meetings, one of which was on “radical alternatives to sex?”

  • Mark Smulian 9th Nov '11 - 11:32am

    I sadly no longer have the letter of advice sent to David Steel that mysteriously found its way to me for use in Liberator.
    It was from a member of the public and the first few paragraphs made several apparently sane suggestions for tax reform.
    The letter then took a dramatic lurch saying something like ” and I give notice that if you do not adopt the ideas I have put forward I will crush you to smithereens and consign you to the outer darkness”.
    I also recall some loony calling the old Liberal HQ where Liberator was being assembled one Saturday. The caller announced that she was speaking from Dover had had a message from the almighty telling her to speak to David Steel at once.
    We explained that he wasn’t there, and we couldn’t give out his number even if we knew it. She threatened that we would be smote with hot coals, or something of that sort. Paul Hannon, who then edited Liberator, waited a few minutes then told the caller “I’ve just had a word with Mr Steel and he says God has told him not to speak to anyone from Dover this weekend!”

  • Richard Underhill 20th Aug '19 - 10:19am

    I have two items for the current leader, both from factual programmes on tv.
    1. Tidal power in Northern Ireland between the central loch and the Irish Sea. Greg Clark replied that he would look into it next time he visited Northern Ireland and reply to me, which he has not done, maybe because he is no longer a minister. He did say that this is an all Ireland matter. He did not say anything about other such projects such as in Wales.
    2. More dramatically, the Israelis draw water from a pipe in the Med. 6 miles from their shore (and therefore presumably further out than sewerage pipes). It is desalinated by a process which was not described scientifically, resulting in water so cheap that they could afford to waste it, which they demonstrated. The southeast of England might benefit.
    I had previously read in an American magazine that Israel used greenhouses and normal sunlight to evaporate seawater, not primarily for the salt, but for the water condensing in the green houses.
    England would probably not be hot enough to benefit from this method.
    A national water grid to bring water from the northeast of England to the southeast has been considered too expensive. (Maybe nobody raised it during Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign.)

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