Shirley Williams Lectures launched to promote ideas exchange

Liberal Democrat members and other progressives can now join an exclusive lecture club to challenge and engage with some of the most original and innovative thinkers of our time.

Launched today, The Shirley Williams Lectures will offer a platform to specialists from a range of fields to share their ideas and vision for the future.  Club members will be given the opportunity to consider and discuss how we can tackle some of the biggest questions facing the world.

Whether it is concepts for a new style of politics, views on the UK’s business outlook, the future of international sport or matters of global ethics, the lecture themes will offer fresh, thought-provoking and contemporary insight.

The lecture series will be delivered online and comprise one event per month during 2021.  Party leader Sir Ed Davey will be kick-starting the programme by outlining his thoughts on the post-COVID economy at the inaugural lecture on 28 January.

Other confirmed speakers include Juergen Maier CBE, who, on 26 February will be taking a deep dive into post-Brexit trade, Baroness Benjamin DBE DL, Olympic medallist and track cyclist Callum Skinner, and Sir Nick Clegg.

Members pay a small regular subscription which provides access to all twelve talks, both live and via the lecture series back catalogue.  Special in-person lectures will be staged at the Spring and Autumn Federal Conferences once physical events can resume.  A discounted annual membership is also available for full payment in advance.  To find out more and join the lecture club, visit

The Shirley Williams Lectures is presented by a committee of political campaigners and business professionals.  The committee includes Tom Morrison, Cheadle Parliamentary Spokesperson and Stockport Councillor, Lord Mike Storey of Childwall, Claire Halliwell, Chief Executive of Welsh Liberal Democrats, Rachel Martin, property solicitor and Vice-chair of Cheadle Liberal Democrats, Mark Jones, Campaign Manager, Colin Eldridge, business advisor and former Parliamentary Candidate and Lisa Whellams, director of a public relations and marketing communications consultancy.

* Tom Morrison is the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Cheadle, community campaigner, and associate director of a specialist communications agency.

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  • I’m sorry, but I’m afraid resurrecting Sir Nicholas Clegg is not the best recipe for reviving and restoring the image of the Liberal Democrat Party.

  • Jonathan Alexander 18th Dec '20 - 10:51am

    Great idea Tom – have joined!

  • Colin Eldridge 18th Dec '20 - 11:03am

    Hi David, we are looking to have a series of lectures from liberals inside and outside the party to broaden the debate and to be a catalyst for future policy discussions. I am sure Nick will be provocative and interesting, even if you don’t agree with him. Cheers Colin

  • Jenny Barnes 18th Dec '20 - 12:11pm

    I seem to remember her speaking in favour of the Lansley NHS reforms.

  • The lectures are likely to be very interesting – Sadly, the price of membership is somewhat exclusive too – and I wonder to what extent that will limit engagement from people we need to involve.

  • Steve Trevethan 18th Dec '20 - 12:44pm

    Who invited the speakers and why?
    What are their terms and conditions?
    Were the members consulted?
    Might L D Voice contributors be consulted on their choice of speakers?
    I nominate Mr Raw.

  • Thank you, Colin. I’m sure Nero would have been “provocative and interesting” after the fire of Rome, but you’d be correct in thinking I wouldn’t agree with what he had done.

  • Hi, Colin. Would the good Lib Dems of Cheadle be prepared to give a sub (say, £ 100 per year) to the clients of my local Foodbank in order to “Broaden the Debate” ?

    They’d have much to say of interest to the Vice-President of Face-Book about Universal Credit. Fortunately, given they’re in Scotland, they’d have much less to say about the Lansley NHS “Reforms”.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Dec '20 - 1:51pm

    With the topicality of air quality after the recent decision of the UK Supreme Court we should be careful not to say that some countries cannot afford it. How about Mongolia? Has anyone been there and measured the problem around the capital city? (with data about distance from the centre of the problem of course).
    We asked about air quality during the general election of 2015 from the target seat of Maidstone. It was raised in the sadly missed European Parliament by a British, Liberal Democrat MEP, but needs following -up or more children will die.

  • James Moore 18th Dec '20 - 5:04pm

    I’m not sure Nick Clegg will pull in the crowds. I’d pay good money to make sure I never had to hear him again.

    I’d also query the general idea of charging fees. It makes it seem exclusive and elitist. I could name any number of academics who would give their time free of charge for a Liberal political initiative – and their views are would be more interesting than some of the people listed here.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Dec '20 - 7:35pm

    David Raw 18th Dec ’20 – 10:37am
    I have a signed copy of the 1979 – 1988 speeches of Russell Johnstone, elected MP 1964. On pages 64-65 he writes about Shirley Williams, She said “Since we formed the Alliance, and because of the necessity of finding a common platform at the election. I have read a great deal of your established policy, your considered reports and statements on all kinds of issues across the field, and I have been amazed and pleased and impressed because what they articulated is what I have come to believe. But I must say to you that I did not come to agree with you because of your persuasion, but rather because of my own conclusions.”
    He wrote “It was a very salutary exchange for me.”
    “It was also a marvellous example, from one who had been in the Cabinet of a Labour Government, of how British politics operates in hermetically sealed containers, with no real dialogue happening at all. Parliament, our Parliament, the MOTHER of Parliaments, is supposed to be where it all happens, but it doesn’t.
    The critics of electoral reform in the Labour and Conservative parties often say that coalition politics means deals in smoke filled rooms from which the electorate is excluded.
    Quite the opposite is true. Given a Parliament truly reflecting the -ever -divided – not just in two ways – opinion of the population, coalition allows the open reconciliation of views and the opportunity to achieve an agreed policy to which everyone feels he has contributed and which can then advance on an agreed basis.
    Another reason I have have told you this story, quite openly, is because it is time for telling the truth, and if we don’t and try to pretend and prevaricate and gloss over, we just do what the others have done.

    There’s an inbuilt defensiveness in which politicians which — admit it –affects us too — that we must never admit fault or weakness.
    How stupid that is!

  • Adrian Sanders 19th Dec '20 - 9:52am

    Oh dear, an ‘Exclusive Club”. The people it is imperative we consult are the voters to help us develop policies to “tackle some of the biggest questions facing the world.” They are not going to pay to be lectured, and certainly not by Clegg. We are slowly turning into the liberal elite debating society I feared we might become post 2015, meeting once a year to declare our love for the EU, hear why we shouldn’t deliver leaflets, and try to recall when we last won a council by-election.

  • I heartedly agree with @Adrian Sanders.

    (To be fair there is some need and indeed should be room for debate and discussion of ideas and the money does go to Cheadle Lib Dems who presumably will put it to good use on Focuses etc. – but I do fear that our party is becoming a little like Change UK did – a lot of debate that was of interest to the Westminster village but no idea how to resonate and run popular campaigns with the country outside)

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