Obituary: Brian Taylor

Brian, Susan and Rebecca Taylor

Brian, Susan and Rebecca Taylor

Brian Harry Taylor, long serving stalwart of Bromley and Chislehurst Liberal Democrats, died peacefully in the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle on Monday 12 August aged 93.

Born in Putney, London in 1919, Brian’s political sentiments were first aroused against the Blackshirts and their targeting of Jewish immigrants in the East End of London in the 1930s. He joined the Bermondsey branch of the Communist Party in 1937, but was always more of an anti-fascist than a communist. He left the Communist Party in 1939 in disgust at the Hitler-Stalin pact.

As a student dentist at Guys Hospital in 1943, he met future wife Susan (née Goldschmidt), a student nurse. He then served in the British Army in the Middle East and married Susan in May 1946 after being demobbed.

In 1955 Brian saw the light and along with Susan joined the Liberal Party; both soon became dedicated party activists in their corner of South East London. Brian first stood for election to Bromley Council in 1956, was first elected in 1957 (allegedly the first Liberal Councillor in Kent), lost his seat in 1960, then regained it in 1962. During this period he was Health Committee Chair, elected by fellow councillors who thought a dentist well qualified for the role. He failed to get elected to the new London borough of Bromley Council in 1964, but was returned via a by-election in 1968. In the 1979 general election, Brian was the Liberal parliamentary candidate for the seat of Chislehurst (now Bromley and Chislehurst).

With their 12 year old son Michael pressed into service (helping “disappear” Tory stake boards into the boot of the family car), Brian and Susan worked their socks off to get a young man named Eric Lubbock elected to Parliament in the 1962 Orpington by-election. Over the years, Brian and Susan helped out with many by-elections including Sutton and Cheam in 1972, Bermondsey in 1983, Littleborough and Saddleworth in 1995 and of course Bromley and Chislehurst in 2006.

In their trusty caravan, Brian and Susan toured the country attending by-elections, Liberal party conferences, and helping the Liberal endeavours of son Michael in West Yorkshire, and daughter Wendy in Newcastle.

"A hit in Hayes, a mole in Mottingham and a scourge of letter boxes everywhere. BRIAN and SUSAN Taylor – a lifetime of Liberalism"

“A hit in Hayes, a mole in Mottingham and a scourge of letter boxes everywhere. BRIAN and SUSAN Taylor – a lifetime of Liberalism”

In 2007, when Brian and Susan received a long service award from the party, Liberal Democrat President Simon Hughes MP said that not only had they dedicated over 50 years to Liberal causes, but they had also created a Liberal Democrat dynasty with both children and grandchildren becoming party activists.

Brian never let advancing age stop his Liberal Democrat activism; when no longer able to deliver and canvass, he stuffed envelopes and sorted leaflets. He was also a dedicated federal conference participant, most recently at the 2013 Spring conference in Brighton.

Brian is survived by his wife Susan, three children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Rebecca Taylor is Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber and Brian Taylor’s granddaughter.

* Rebecca Taylor is a member of Islington LibDems and the former MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber.

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18 Comments

  • Roger Roberts/Wales 14th Aug '13 - 2:38pm

    For Brian’ and the thousands of long-serving stalwartss sake we must keep liberalism alive and effective.

  • Alisdair McGregor 14th Aug '13 - 3:12pm

    Condolences for you & your families loss Rebecca.

  • David Evans 14th Aug '13 - 3:34pm

    Condolences, but also great joy in remembering a true liberal.

  • Chris Rennard 14th Aug '13 - 6:02pm

    My condolences to all your family. Brian (and Susan) were of course great volunteers in Cowley Street as well as in many by-elections . He was also a most interesting person to talk to about his great Liberal and Lib Dem experience and he will be missed by many in the party.

  • my condolences for your loss – your grandfather certainly seems to have lived an interesting and fulfilling life. a minor historical correction tho: mosley’s thugs that your grandfather would have encountered in the east end were known as ‘blackshirts’ and not ‘brownshirts’.

  • Duncan Borrowman 14th Aug '13 - 6:21pm

    In 1996 Conservative Bromley Council front bencher David Dear stood up and resigned his Bickley seat and joined the Liberal Democrats. He stood as our candidate in the by-election. As the agent I was handed a set of keys to 144 Blackbrook Lane and more or less moved in. The house was buzzing for weeks and so many people turned up in the afternoon of polling day we literally ran out of work for a period. The house was literally packed with wall to wall people. We got a big swing but came up just short.
    2 years later another Bickley by-election came along. This time Brian and Susan sensibly only gave me the keys to the annex! Most people would have balked at even that. A sad loss.

  • George DUNK 14th Aug '13 - 6:33pm

    Not hundreds but thousands of Liberals will mourn the passing of a really great and lovely man.
    It is very easy to say that the Taylor “dynasty” and the Party have lost a great campaigner, mentor and friend………. and that is true.
    However, Brian’s politics came, grew and were practised as one half of a very great and hard working team.
    Together he and Susan were, in a political context, a truly gladiatorial entity.
    Team Taylor were able to cajole, encourage and motivate others to become activists and then go one step beyond to try and achieve that elusive “result”!
    Through thick and thin, highs and lows; for years and years they were always a respected and most formidable team.
    Susan will be devastated but proud to have chosen well all those years ago (67 ???) and to have shared a long life of happiness with such a nice guy.
    My most sincere condolences to Susan… and to the whole family, on the passing of a really wonderful man.
    For Brian’s life we must all give thanks especially for his motivation, support, friendship and advice… all of which he never failed to pass on.

  • Bromley Borough Liberal Democrats have lost two great champions in the last few months. In April, former Councillor and past President of the Beckenham Party, Reg Baskett, passed away and now we have lost Brian, Brian was a real gentleman and will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Our prayers and thoughts are with Susan, Rebecca and all the family…..and yes, I have fond memories of 144 Blackbrook Lane. There is no better place than a Lib Dem house full of the our Lib Dem family!

  • Many thanks for the very generous comments about my father, Brian.

    My recollection is that he was not the only Liberal Councillor in Kent, but in the Home Counties! (Lots of people may have been Liberals but were not elected under a party label)

    I was reflecting that growing up in a highly politically active family seemed perfectly normal to me. Knowing that every year or after the London Government Reorganisation every 2 years, March to May would be filled with leaflets, canvassing and getting the vote out stayed with me and was replicated in Todmorden in my own political campaigning. Of course there was innovative campaigning involved too. I remember the JAMM girls in the 1964 GLC elections, when my sister and 3 other young women dressed up in black and orange (with orange hats too!) to enliven the campaign rally that we had. [In case you were wondering JAMM was a memory aide to the names of the 4 Liberal candidates, Jones, Alexander, McNally and Minter! Most ‘normal’ families would have no idea about the commitment involved. My parents’ activism was one of total dedication to the cause.

    Of course they always hoped for greater success for the party and I have a vivid recollection of seeing them on TV at the 1997 General Election celebration at the Inn on the Park. They were both extremely excited and pleased when Rebecca became an MEP. Dad fully supported the decision to go into government in 2010 and he remained convinced it was the right decision, even if unhappy about aspects of government policy. His view was, I’m sure, that if you have spent 65 years campaigning to get into government, as he had, then you’d be mad to turn it down when offered.

  • I just recently completed Brian and Susan’s transfer to Newcastle City Lib Dems. Their daughter Wendy is a successful councillor in Newcastle and Deputy Leader of the Newcastle City Lib Dem Group.

    Condolences to all the family. Sorry to hear such sad news! 🙁

  • Irfan Mustafa 19th Aug '13 - 10:06am

    I only met Brian once I think in 2007. He was a true Liberal activist. My condolences to all family and friends.

  • Neil Bradbury 19th Aug '13 - 10:06pm

    I had the pleasure of seeing Brian and Susan on the campaign trail when I was a student almost twenty years ago helping their daughter, the formidable Cllr Wendy Taylor, win election. They had more energy than most of us students and it was always a pleasure to see them at the front of conference. Great to read of his other achievements, A true hero of Liberalism has passed on.

  • Gerda Loosemore-Repp 21st Aug '13 - 6:34pm

    Our condolences to Brian’s passing. Both Taylor’s were great supporters of the Orpington Liberal Club, contributing ge

  • wendy taylor 26th Aug '13 - 10:56pm

    My mother & all of us have been overwhelmed by all the kind messages & generous comments we’ve received by card, letter, e-mail & on Lib Dem voice. As Mick says, growing up in a political household seemed normal to us & I loved the excitement of election days. But Dad showed his Liberal principles in many other ways, for example when he took a family of Ugandan Asians into our house after they had been thrown out of their country by Idi Amin. He was a wonderful father & a great Liberal

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