Tag Archives: diana maddock

Diana Maddock, remembered by her first researcher

Of all the heartfelt tributes to Diana Maddock this weekend, one on Facebook by George Crozier, whose first job was as her parliamentary researcher immediately after her spectacular by-election win in 1993.

He has very kindly agreed to let me post it on here so that you can all enjoy it too. I will admit to a few tears when I read it.

He recounts how well they got on and has some details about her parliamentary work (eg against puppy farms) that we might otherwise have missed.

George tells how she was reported in the local press and how she worked so hard as a constituency MP.

Kind and wise are two words we’ve heard a lot describing her over the last few days, and this post sums up why.

Hugely saddened by the news yesterday of the death of my first boss, Diana Maddock. Diana was a lovely person – I can’t recall us ever falling out during the three and a half years I worked for her though there were plenty of stressful moments – speeches finished with minutes to spare among the most common. She was a genuinely caring and thoughtful employer – though what she was thinking when she got me a Mickey Mouse tie for Christmas one year is anyone’s guess!

I first knew Diana in Southampton, where I was a student and she was Lib Dem council group leader and a parliamentary candidate in 1992. My house – or rather Rosemary Hasler’s – was the campaign headquarters that year, such as it was, so I lived for months amid stacks of Maddock Focuses and stakeboards. Then the following year the Christchurch by-election was called just a few weeks after I graduated, Diana was selected to fight it, and I spent so much time there that I ended up as the campaign caseworker for the final week and after she won – biggest ever swing against the Conservatives in a by-election at the time – she took a leap of faith (for which I will be forever grateful) and hired me as her researcher.

I say hired – the timing of her election was such that she couldn’t take her seat until Parliament returned in October so none of us (including Diana I think) were paid for nearly three months. Most of that summer was spent with Diana, Andrew Garratt and others in the Ferndown office sorting through rooms (literally!) full of papers of all kinds from the by-election. The scale of that campaign had to be seen to be believed. There were days when the whole constituency was canvassed and separately delivered. The detritus we had to sort through probably added a percentage point to the district council’s recycling rate!

Diana was a brilliant constituency MP – the absolute model of how to go about building non-political support through visits, regular surgeries, diligent casework, taking up local issues in Parliament and keeping constituents informed through local papers and post, in the days when this kind of thing was a novelty. We once saw an internal Conservative note expressing exasperation that she seemed to be everywhere – why were so many local groups asking to meet her? Why were people asking her to open fetes? Why? (The answer to the latter, it emerged, after she was bounced out of the ceremonial opening of the Verwood Carnival one year, was closely related to the availability or otherwise of local celebrity Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses). But hey, that’s life, and she took this crushing blow in her stride.)

I remember once hearing from the Bournemouth Echo’s Westminster correspondent that he loved the story we were giving him but he couldn’t cover it because he’d already given her twice the coverage that week of the county’s seven Tory MPs put together. On another occasion he confided that a Dorset Tory had complained to him about the amount of coverage he gave to Diana. He had had to find a way to diplomatically explain that he was just reflecting the news generation and activity levels of the local MPs as they appeared to him.

Not all the media was perfect of course. One article about the by-election win referred to the victor, a Mrs Diane Haddock. Another, in The Guardian I think, was more to our taste. Challenging a claim somewhere else that the old folk in the constituency had taken to Diana because they identified with, her it asserted that, to the contrary, nice middle-aged Mrs Maddock brought a touch of glamour to the town – in the ‘zimmerframe world of Christchurch’ (the constituency was, I think, the second oldest in the country) Diana Maddock was, it asserted, a veritable Sharon Stone!

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Willie Rennie pays tribute to Diana Maddock

Many party figures have been paying tribute to Diana Maddock, the much loved Lib Dem Peer who died yesterday.

One of the highlights of her career was winning the Christchurch by-election in 1993, overturning a 23000 Tory majority with a 35% swing.

Her agent in that campaign was a 25 year old Scot by the name of Willie Rennie.

Now leader of the Scottish Party, and a famous by-election winner himself, he wrote a warm tribute to Diana on his Facebook page.

I first met Diana Maddock when I was asked to be the agent for the Christchurch By Election in 1993. It was a solid Conservative seat but in just three months Diana became the Member of Parliament with a swing that rocked the political establishment.

Diana was a gentle, caring and kind woman who was anxious to do well for the thousands of people who travelled hundreds of miles to help her win.

From the old car showroom on Barrack Road, Chris Rennard and I plotted the campaign. It was an amazing effort with public meetings, Lords Teas and canvass and leaflet teams scouring the area like ants.

The issue of the by election was VAT on fuel and came when John Major was having problems with the “bastards” in the cabinet.

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Diana Maddock has died

Some incredibly sad news has come through this morning. Diana Maddock, winner of the Christchurch by-election in 1993 and a Lib Dem member of the House of Lords, has passed away.

Diana was a lovely woman. She was always willing to help and support others. I will miss her so much.

I first met her at a training session for women in the 1990s. She was kind, supportive and very frank about her own experiences.

Please feel free to share your memories of Diana in the comments.

All of us at LDV send our love to Alan and all her family.

There’s real affection in the tributes from senior party figures:

You can read more about her, and find out about her work as a councillor, MP, Party President and Peer on the party website:

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YouTube ‘cos we want to: by-election special

Welcome to the weekend edition of our LDV feature, rounding up some of the best/worst/most curious political videos doing the rounds. What could be more approrpiate today than to take the theme of by-elections?

First up, let’s cast our minds back some 47 years: to Orpington, scene of perhaps the most famous Liberal by-election victory of all, when Eric Lubbock was elected the Liberal party’s sixth MP:

And now a slight change of tack – BBC2’s Mock The Week’s take on ‘Bad Things For a By-Election Candidate to Say’:

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