National Liberal Club Drops Joining Fee for Lib Dems

For 134 years, the National Liberal Club has supported the Liberal cause. It was founded by Gladstone in 1882 to act as a “home from home” for Liberal activists and supporters – and it still does so today.

Something we’re constantly trying to do – while preserving the Liberal heritage of an extraordinary building, steeped in colourful history – is to keep membership costs down. And while we’re aware that the up-front membership fee is necessarily quite hefty, it is less than half of that found in other comparable London clubs, which is something we manage to combine with offering some of the very best facilities.

So we’ve decided to introduce a special offer for the next six months. Given the Lib Dem membership surge of the last year, from March 1st to September 30th 2016, we are dropping the one-off Joining Fee (worth half a year’s subscription) for anyone who is a paid-up member of the Liberal Democrats. All you will need to do, at the same time as filling out a standard application form found here, is to enclose a print, scan or photocopy of your Lib Dem membership card, and your membership expiry date. This offer means you would save £385 on membership. Additionally, there are further membership concessions for members under 30, members over 65, country members, overseas members, and for long-term retention of membership. The club also has a concession for couples, and remains the only London club to have this in place regardless of either sexual orientation or marital status. We stage a whole host of interesting – political and non-political – events throughout the year and our network of 150 or so reciprocal clubs around the world is also a very attractive perk of membership.

One of the advantages of the club business model is that once you’ve paid your membership fee in the first place, that can then be funnelled into subsidising everything else the club provides – and so you will find that the NLC provides surprisingly affordable food and drink prices for central London.

I do hope that this special offer gives an impetus for fellow liberals to take the plunge and join us. Every major British Liberal and Liberal Democrat politician has been a member, and the club is increasingly the British base of choice for international liberal politicians – more recent members include Aung San Suu Kyi, Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson.

It’s also a uniquely progressive place. From the outset, it was one of London’s only clubs to be free of any racial or religious barriers (our founder members included Dadabhai Naoroji, Britain’s first non-white MP, who sat for Finsbury in the 1890s, and who was a mentor to Gandhi – himself a frequent visitor to the club); and I’m particularly proud that it was also the first major London “gentlemen’s club” to admit women as full members. Our women members speak particularly highly of the club as a safe space in the heart of Westminster.

So I hope this special offer goes some way to generating more interest in the NLC, and we would be only too happy to hear about expressions of interest from other liberals.

* Janet Berridge is vice chair of the National Liberal Club and a Lib Dem activist in Bromley

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