Tag Archives: eric lubbock

After Orpington

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In 1962 the best days of the Liberal Party must have seemed like a long way behind them. Decline had been the order of the day for decades, byelections were not scenes of success, a lone win in 1958 at Torrington being their first gain since 1929! The National Liberals who had split way remained a separate force propped up by the Tories and despite a new leader breathing some life into the party the national share of the vote at the previous General Election had been less than six per cent with only six MPs returned.

Then came Orpington, a suburban constituency whose Conservative incumbent had been appointed to a judgeship causing a byelection. The Liberal candidate was the young Eric Lubbock who had been elected as a local Councillor a couple of years previously. The Tory government was going through a period of mid term unpopularity not a surprise given they had been in office for some time. However nobody expected them to lose but they did lose in a spectacular fashion. A swing of over 20% saw Lubbock turn a Conservative majority of over 14,000 into a Liberal one of more than 7,000.

After the result there was much talk of it being an indication of the changes that were place in British society and the existence of a new type of voter Orpington man who shunned the class based politics of the two major parties. The expected Liberal revival didn’t quite materialise but the 1964 General Election an election which Labour won with a wafer thin majority did see an increase in both the share of the vote and the number of MPs.

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RIP Pratap Chitnis

In memory of Pratap Chitnis, we reproduce below Mark Pack’s tribute to an unjustly forgotten Liberal Hero. The Guardian’s obituary is here.

Pratap (later Lord) Chitnis was the post-war Liberal Party’s first grassroots campaigning mastermind, whose pioneering activities laid the groundwork for the later work of better known people such as Trevor Jones and Chris Rennard.

Born in 1936 to a family with a history of Liberal politics (his grandfather stood and lost in 1906), he was inspired by Jo Grimond to join the Liberal Party himself in 1958. Chitnis first worked in the National Liberal Club’s library and then …

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Eric Lubbock: From Orpington Man to Buddhist Monk?

For many years Adrian Slade has interviewed prominent Liberal Democrats. To mark his recent decision to make his archive of the interview recordings available to researchers and other interested parties, Lib Dem Voice is running a selection of his write-ups of interviews from over the years. The latest is from 2002 and is with Lord Avebury, formerly Eric Lubbock – victor of the 1962 Orpington by-election, MP for eight years and chair of the parliamentary human right s group from 1976 to 1997.

For a few astonishing days in March 1962, the Liberal Party led the Conservative and Labour parties in the opinion polls, the only time it had ever done so since polls were invented.

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Chris Rennard writes… 50 years after the Orpington by-election

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Forgotten Liberal heroes: Pratap Chitnis

Listen to Liberal Democrats make speeches and there are frequent references to historical figures, but drawn from a small cast. Just the quartet of John Stuart Mill, William Gladstone, David Lloyd George, David Penhaligon corner almost all of the market, especially since Bob Maclennan stopped making speeches to party conference. Some of the forgotten figures deserve their obscurity but others do not. Charles James Fox’s defence of civil liberties against a dominating government during wartime or Earl Grey’s leading of the party back into power and major constitutional reform are good examples of mostly forgotten figures who could

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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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