You might know sad news is coming, but when it actually arrives, it still smacks you round the chops.

That’s how so many people in the party will feel tonight. Few people were as loved as Erlend Watson.

We knew time was short. His update on Boxing Day was very him.

I wanted to break it to you all personally.

I am more certainly not going to make it through more than the next few months. Any extra events could shorten that so my best guess is 3 to 6 moths. I will put myself down for a proxy vote for May (not Theresa) in case of any survival. Cynical to the end.

The affection shown on social media since my op was lovely but I have lost a quarter of my weight and I no longer have the physical reserves to do that.

I am currently able to communicate and will do so as long as possible but clearly the timetable is very loose and the end could be sudden.

My final affairs I am leaving to my siblings and my social media executor as Simon Drage as he knows more of you than they do.

In the meantime I will take/return calls as and when I can. Some longer some shorter according to what I can do.

There will be a funeral and I think a memorial service (probably the latter in London during parliamentary session for those who that works for. Elements of English and Norwegian I hope the committal of ashes to be in Orkney next summer about the time of the shows next August subject to to Covid but that is obviously an open story..

In terms of my politics I haven’t a Liberal and a Liberal Democrat since age 10. I see there being anti liberal forces working in the world and that makes me very sad. These must be fought. I am partisan but include on the side of good not just my own leaders but many Labour, Conservative and other politicians and obviously many non Party folk. I am a multiple identity person. In terms of nationality I am an Orcadian who was born in Fife with other IDs through my genome (but that leaves the key flag at the funeral as a St Magnus one rather than a rainbow 🌈 one).

To end with a couple of (mis)quotes.
1)You are not wholly gone from Earth until the last soul you touched comes up to heaven to greet you..

2) Well dear friends, now we have come to the end of our fellowship in Middle Earth. I will not say do not weep for not all tears are an evil. Or in Norwegian, Vel kjære venner nå har vi kommet til enden av vårt felleskap i Midtgård. Jeg vil ikke si gråt ikke, for ikke alle tårer er av det onde.

Number 2 may be familiar to readers of The Lord of the Rings.

Within days, both the Young Liberals and ALDC had honoured him.
And tonight the news came that he had died, very peacefully, and with a friend by his side.

We’d been hoping that he would somehow defy the odds.

Erlend was a familiar sight at by-elections and at the Conference Glee Club. He devoted so much of his life to the party, working to elect parliamentarians and councillors alike.

He was kind, incredibly clever, and always curious to know more and more about all sorts of obscure stuff. He was incredibly funny and he always had time for you.

We will all have our Erlend stories to tell. Please share memories of him in the comments. I will never forget that day in 1995, eve of poll in the Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election. There was a special mission to be done and I was tthe only person around to do it. And it involved driving a transit van. I had a much loved Mini Metro and I only drove it on quiet roads as I was pretty nervous. We survived and my feeble soul was emboldened.

I’m so glad I had the chance to speak to him a few days ago.

We will all miss him so much.Our love and condolences to his family.

Some occasions call for a wee dram of cask strength Orcadian single malt Highland Park. To Erlend.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Neil Fawcett 26th Jan '22 - 12:26am

    Kind words about one of the kindest of men.

    Erlend was one of those people who always left me feeling happier about the world.

    He will be sadly missed but fondly remembered by the whole Lib Dem family.

  • Stephen Glenn 26th Jan '22 - 1:40am

    I well remember after taking 45 minutes to take my leave of the conference bar at Bournemouth running into Erlend holding court at one of the outside tables, as always he invited me over with a cheery smile and got me involved in the conversation with some of the Young Liberals he was talking to. At various times over the next hour many who I had already said goodnight to me would pass and mouth comments like “Weren’t you on your way” only to smile when they realised that it was Erlend (certainly not the Bournemouth sea air) that had given me a second wind at 2:30 in the morning.

  • Tristan Ward 26th Jan '22 - 6:46am

    Rest in Peace Erland Watson

  • Cheryl Green 26th Jan '22 - 8:14am

    Erlend, a man of great integrity kindness and so clever.
    Campaigning flowed through his veins, a man of action.
    Such found memories of him and our chats.

  • So very sad to hear the news. I first met Erlend as a very green volunteer in Cowley Street in 1992 when he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. Many people will have similar tales from by-elections and campaigns over the years. A man of great wit, kindness and endless intellectual curiosity. We were lucky to know him.

  • Roger Roberts 26th Jan '22 - 8:30am

    Two Liberals lost so close together – Ronnie Fern and Erland Watson. They were “originals” who left great memories with those who met them. I was hugely proud to have known them both, Ronnie was indeed Mr Southport and Erland the type of Liberal who has contributed in a very personal and individual way to our efforts. We need many more like them.

  • Rob Blackie 26th Jan '22 - 8:53am

    Very sorry to hear this. Erlend was a by election legend and a lovely guy who I spent many evenings chatting to in various pubs. RIP.

  • Lloyd Harris 26th Jan '22 - 11:56am

    I am very sad to hear of Erlend’s passing – I am sure everyone who like me worked with or knew him are recalling all our Erland stories in our heads.

  • Helen Duffett Helen Duffett 26th Jan '22 - 2:41pm

    “He always had time for you.” So, so true. Erlend knew countless people and whether you’d met him once, or a hundred times, he had a way of greeting you like you were the one person he’d especially been looking forward to chatting with. He did it with me, and I’m sure he did it with every one of you too. What an amazing capacity for people and optimism – not to mention spectacular statistical geekery. One of a kind.

  • Like Roger, I can’t help noting the loss of Erlend and Ronnie so close together. True originals indeed. And in their own ways indelible Liberal figures. RIP both.

  • I remember Erlend from the time when I worked for Simon Hughes in his Constituency Office in Bermondsey. Erlend was managing the Lib Dems Campaigns Office downstairs. He was just so kind and knowledgeable about stats and results, but always made people feel at ease. We talked about Scandinavian things now and then as I have Danish roots and I know he was very proud of his Nordic links.

    I cannot say I knew him well, but he was just so kind. RIP Erlend.

  • Howard Sykes 27th Jan '22 - 12:27pm

    Really got to know Erland at the Littleborough & Saddleworth by-election in 1995.

    A one hundred percent solid brick.

    Good company, sharp mind, font of knowledge and most important did what he said he would do when he said he would and not frightened of real hard graft.

    That friendship (renewed at by-elections and conferences) lasted until his sad passing. The world is now a less LIBERAL as a result. RIP my friend.

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