National Liberal Club elects its first ever woman chairman

Word reaches us that the National Liberal Club has, for the first time ever, elected a woman take over its running. Janet Berridge is its new chairman.

We do have to wonder what took it so long, but we’re happy to see this development.

Janet said, on her election:

I am tremendously honoured to have been elected the new chairman of the National Liberal Club. Situated in the heart of London, the club appeals to a wide variety of professions and age groups and provides an environment to suit different interests and requirements. There is no such thing as a “typical club member” at the NLC – the diversity that has been nurtured over many years is reflected by its members. My aim in the coming years is to make sure that our club’s foundations are fit for the 21st century while maintaining its traditions and much-loved customs. By embracing the values of Liberalism espoused by the club’s founders and their successors, I am confident that this challenge can be met and achieved.

And a little bit about Janet and the history of the NLC from the club:

Born in Birmingham in 1952, Janet Berridge works with her husband Michael as a freelance translator in the music business. She divides her time between London and Berlin, and is a committed European. She is also an active Liberal Democrat in Bromley, and is keen to keep the club’s unique heritage alive.

The National Liberal Club was founded by Prime Minister W.E. Gladstone in 1882 to act as a “home from home” for Liberal activists and supporters – and it still does so today. On Wednesday night, “the great and the good” of Lib Dem politics were gathered in the club for the unveiling of its latest painting: a portrait of former party leader Charles Kennedy.

The club boasts a wide range of distinguished members, including Paddy Ashdown, Desmond Tutu, and Aung San Suu Kyi. Past members include Winston Churchill, Bram Stoker, Dylan Thomas, H.G. Wells, and every Liberal and Lib Dem Leader since Gladstone.

The National Liberal Club was the first of the traditional “gentlemen’s clubs” of London to admit women as full members – which it did in 1976, with many other clubs not moving with the times until the 1990s or 2000s – and half a dozen clubs today still persist in being “men only”. The NLC, by contrasts, stresses its inclusiveness.

We wish Janet well as she takes up her term of office.

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6 Comments

  • paul barker 21st May '16 - 1:36pm

    Only 40 years behind The Tories.

  • @Paul – But ahead of Muirfield golf club in Scotland… 🙂

  • And I was the Club’s first non-white chairman in 2007……….
    The late Baroness Stina Robson was a former chairman of NLC Ltd which oversees the commercial running of the NLC.

  • Steve Comer 21st May '16 - 8:38pm

    I remember being part of the Young Liberal & Liberal Student delegation that persuaded London Liberal Party to stop meeting the National Liberal Club until it admitted women as members. It was just before the Sex Discrimination Act was passed.
    Of course the act does not apply to private clubs, but the timing meant that many who might not have supported us did, and it had an effect the following year.
    (Of course the year after that a certain ‘Mr De Chabris’ got involved, but that is another long and stranger story….)

  • Tony Greaves 22nd May '16 - 4:26pm

    I was going to point out that some of us remember campaigning to allow women to join! Does the Carlton Club admit women nowadays?

    Tony Greaves

  • I note that the eminent liberal political theorist, Martha Nussbaum, has just joined the ranks of the NLC’s membership.

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