Lord (Geoff) Tordoff (1928-2019)

Sad news has reached the Liberal Democrat Voice team that Geoff Tordoff, a former President of the Liberal Party, and a retired member of the House of Lords, passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning after a short illness.

Geoff was elevated to the Lords in 1981, having played a significant part in the rebuilding of the Liberal Party through the 1960s and 1970s, culminating in four years as Chairman of the Party, as well as a term as President during the Alliance years.

He was highly respected in the Lords, and rose to become Chairman of Committees for a time not long after the Millennium. A patient, kindly man, he tended to avoid hyperbole and could be relied upon to manage the business of the House with tact and courtesy.

Geoff retired from the Lords in 2016, and will be sorely missed by his friends and former colleagues. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

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  • Kay Kirkham 24th Jun '19 - 4:30pm

    Lord Tordoff was a member of my local party – Shipley & Keighley. Although not active in recent years, we will miss him.

  • A sad loss, although he achieved a ripe age. It was always worth hearing him speak at conference.

  • Cllr Fran Oborski 24th Jun '19 - 6:08pm

    Very sad news. I have fond memories of hearing him in the 70s and 80s.

  • Mick Taylor 24th Jun '19 - 6:17pm

    Geoff was a great guy and greatly encouraged me in my young liberal days.

  • Sad news indeed. I didn’t actually know Geoff personally but, if your entire experience of the party in the mid-late 1980s was watching the BBC live feed at conference times, he was one of those stalwart figures that was just constantly there, doing what in later years I came to realise is the thankless but essential work of chairing debates, moving unglamorous amendments and generally making the thing work. He always seemed to do it with a smile and was clearly well-liked by all.

  • gavin grant 24th Jun '19 - 7:15pm

    Geoff was a magnificent Chair of the Liberal Party and part of great double act with Party President Gryff Evans. He was a dedicated and committed Liberal who lived his life by such values. A lovely, kind and generous individual. RIP Geoff.

  • Geoff Tordoff was Chair of the Liberal Party when I was first elected to the National Executive Committee in 1979. He was an outstanding Liberal and was always very kind towards me. A sad loss.

  • I had contact with Geoff on various liberal related matters during my early party involvement. He was always a source of help and support. My condolences to his family and friends

  • Rita Giannini 25th Jun '19 - 1:16pm

    I am very sorry to hear this sad news. Geoff and his wife Patty were great supporters of our bid to elect a liberal democrat member of the European Parliament back in 1989; we couldn’t have done it without their encouragement and material help. I can’t count the times they gave us a bed, tea and advice!

  • Brian Spencer 25th Jun '19 - 1:37pm

    I remember Geoff and his family well when I was Chair of Hampton Hill Ward in The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in the mid 70’s and they were residents. The family were great deliverers and supporters as well as Geoff holding higher office in the party. They were held in high regard by the local community. R.I.P.Geoff and love to his family.

  • Chris Rennard 25th Jun '19 - 3:13pm

    Geoff Tordoff became Chairman of the Liberal Party’s National Executive in 1976, the year in which David Steel was elected Leader, and I was a 16 year old party activist. There was real doubt at the time as to whether the Liberal Party would survive in difficult circumstances as we struggled to explain why it had been in the national interest form the ‘Lib Lab Pact’.
    David Steel greatly valued Geoff Tordoff’s role as a peacemaker within the party, and together with Lord Gruffyd Evans, they all worked to steer the party through the 1979 General Election in which we won more or less the same number of seats as we had won in the more hopeful circumstances of 1974. There was then a springboard for the creation of the ‘Liberal- SDP Alliance’ in 1981.
    Such was the respect in which Geoff was held in the House of Lords that he was the first peer from our benches to speak from the Government Despatch Box for over 50 years when he became Chairman of Committees. He was a kind, gentle and good Liberal.

  • Lord Rennard is correct that Geoff had a lot of sorting out to do …… he also had a famous legal case starring a Hugh Grant lookalike to cope with.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Jun '19 - 8:54am

    He was also a source of wisdom, experience and leadership in international affairs.
    Although we had few MPs we did have a large vote and had somehow managed to persuade others that we should be represented accordingly. We therefore needed to be careful not to squash smaller parties, some of which were in government and doing important things ( in Germany for instance, a merger of two parties the Free Democrat Party & Die Liberalen; in Canada the Liberal Party had been in power at the federal level for a majority of a century but used to say that “nobody listens to us”).
    In the UK we had arguments about time zones on a north-south basis, but Lord Tordoff advised us to understand the East-West basis, from Finland to The Azores.
    We should celebrate his life, which was also in business.

  • Richard Underhill 19th Jul '19 - 8:39pm

    28th Jun ’19 – 8:54am
    There is an obituary of Geoff Tordoff in The Times today, 19/7/19, page 50, columns 1-5.
    The writer is anonymous.
    The Tordoff name is Yorkshire.
    He set an example as to how to live a life.

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