David Steel’s Golden Jubilee

David Steel at Malcolm Bruce's anniversary dinnerI’m sure that there will be many LDV readers wanting to see the film Selma (as a well-earned break from campaigning!) which is released this week. It depicts Martin Luther King’s leadership of thousands on the march from Selma to Montgomery in search of equal voting rights for African Americans who were largely excluded from voting rolls. The five day fifty-four mile march arrived at the State Capitol on the 25th March 1965.

It was on the day before that the young David Steel was elected in a by-election for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles, thus beginning a long political career in which he has been a notable campaigner against racial injustice at home and abroad.

The various aspects of Lord Steel’s political life will be celebrated at this year’s Orpington Dinner at the National Liberal Club on Tuesday, 10th March with an impressive list of speakers including Baroness Shirley Williams. The Orpington Circle is one of the Party’s best kept secrets. Founded in 2008 during my time as Chairman of the National Liberal Club, it raises money to support Liberal Democrats at Westminster by-elections. The Orpington Fund has covered every by-election deposit since its foundation with larger sums going to selected seats.

Non-NLC members are always welcome at the Orpington Dinner and places at £60 per person may be booked through Louisa Pooley at the Club ([email protected]) who can supply full details of the evening. Why not come and celebrate Lord Steel’s remarkable fifty years in Parliament, share your campaigning stories with fellow diners and re-energise yourself for the General Election?

* Paul Hunt was the constituency agent for Hastings and Rye Liberals in the 1980s and is a former Chairman of the National Liberal Club. He is now a Vice-President of the Club and the Honorary President of the Hastings and Rye Liberal Democrats

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  • I like the way that this article links David Steel to the memory of Dr King. It seems an appropriate connection.
    I was at school at the time but I remember the TV News reports of both events. it was a time when it seemed possible to change things for the better, a time of hope.

  • As a Liberal born in Orpington I’d be keen to learn more about the Circle. Perhaps LDV could do a series of articles about these various groups within the party?

  • The Circle is composed of people – mainly NLC members but not exclusively so – who are invited to the annual Orpington Dinner at the Club and make a donation, large or small. Quite a few people donate £5 per month by standing order. There are no running costs involved and all money raised is used to support by-election campaigns. Anyone who donates is added to the list. Thank you for your interest.

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