New from the Liberal Democrat History Group

As well as publishing the quarterly Journal of Liberal History (which features one of the esteemed editors of Lib Dem Voice on its Editorial Board), the Liberal Democrat History Group also publishes a range of books and short booklets on aspects of Liberal history.

New out, just in time for Bournemouth conference, is the second edition of Mothers of Liberty: Women Who Built British Liberalism. This booklet contains the stories of the women who shaped British Liberalism – including Mary Wollstonecraft, Harriet Taylor Mill, the suffragist leader Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the first woman Liberal MP Margaret Wintringham, Violet Bonham Carter, Megan Lloyd George, Nancy Seear, Shirley Williams and many more. This second edition updates some of the entries, adds two entirely new ones and a table of all Liberal, SDP and Liberal Democrat women elected as MPs, and includes a foreword by Jo Swinson MP.

We have also published a new edition of our popular Liberal History: A concise history of the Liberal Party, SDP and Liberal Democrats. This has been revised and updated to include the 2015 and 2017 elections and their aftermath, including the election of Vince Cable as leader.

Starting with the earliest stirrings of Liberal thought during the civil wars of the seventeenth century, the booklet takes the reader through the coming together of Whigs, radicals and free-trade Peelites in 1859 to form the Liberal Party; the ascendancy of the Victorian Liberals under Gladstone; the New Liberalism of Asquith and Lloyd George and the party’s landslide election victory in 1906; dissension and eclipse; the long decades of decline until nadir in the 1950s; successive waves of Liberal revival under Grimond, Thorpe and Steel; the alliance with the SDP and merger in 1988; and the roller-coaster ride of the Liberal Democrats, from near-obliteration in 1989 to entry into government in 2010 to electoral disaster in 2015 and, now, the path to recovery.

Several local parties have used the booklet as a gift for their new members; we can offer a 50 per cent discount for bulk orders of 40 or more copies.

For anyone looking for a longer introduction to Liberal history, we’ve just cut £10 off the price of our book Peace, Reform and Liberation: A History of Liberal Politics in Britain 1679–2011. Published six years ago, it obviously doesn’t cover anything after the first year of the coalition – but everything up until then is still worth reading!

And also just published is the latest issue of the Journal of Liberal History. Contents include an analysis of the Liberal Democrat performance in the 2017 election, by John Curtice; a piece by Vince Cable on his political hero; an article on the Nonconformist mind of Lloyd George; a piece on French Liberalism and the background to Emmanuel Macron’s Presidential victory; an analysis of the characteristics of Liberal Democrat members in 1999 and 2015, and how they’ve changed (or not); and more.

All available from the Liberal Democrat History Group stand in the exhibition area at Bournemouth; come and have a look and tell us whether you’d like us to publish anything else. For those not in Bournemouth, everything can be ordered from our website:

* Duncan Brack is a member of the Federal Policy Committee and chaired the FPC’s working group that wrote Rebuilding Trade and Cooperation with Europe.

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  • Richard Underhill 16th Sep '17 - 10:10am

    Lady Bonham Carter was speaking in the Lords on Thursday on education in front of Kenneth Baker (Tory). I happened to see this while flicking channels during a commercial.
    I was impressed with the clarity of expression, regrettably rare in the education field. One example: schools which offer cultural subjects such as drama do better across all subjects compared with schools which prefer specialisation in science in order to make a living. She draws the conclusion that making education fun improves performance generally.
    I met her when she was canvassing in the 2015 general election in Maidstone and her father, who spoke at the Liberal Summer School, which, sadly, no longer exists.

  • Richard Underhill 26th Jan '18 - 4:19pm

    On another thread (Second referendum: when was the first one?) I was asked to provide a source for the assertion that Winston S Churchill had said to have told de Gaulle that “I can have you executed”. Execution is obviously not the same as assassination attempts, which happened to de Gaulle after he became President of France in the Fifth Republic. de Gaulle had been sentenced to death by the Vichy government in France for desertion.
    WSC describes in detail how de Gaulle made numerous appointments, but got on board a moving British ‘plane and closed the door behind him. [the Fall of France].
    WSC freely confessed in his own writings that his own command of the French language was poor. His wife Clementine thought so too. Roy Jenkins discusses nuances in French and English, but the quotation is in French [ISBN 0 333 50282 4, page 92 ]
    “Si vous m’obstaclerez, je vous liquiderai.” The 1987 Robert Collins Dictionary [ISBN 2-85036-088-0] page 408 offers ‘eliminate’, ‘liquidate’. de Gaulle could be ungrateful (£8 million subsidy) and insolent (smoking one of WSC’s cigars) and, although only a two star general, he was clearly different from the other governments in exile in London.

  • Richard Underhill 26th Jan '18 - 4:35pm

    Roy Jenkins also comments that de Gaulle was “suicidal” after the failure of the Dakar expedition.
    WSC gives a lot of detail about leakage of information among the Free French and issues about the timing and decoding of communications and the consequential lack of precise following of orders.

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