Tag Archives: memories

Littleborough and Saddleworth – 25 years on

Shocking as it may seem, this week saw the 25th anniversary of a great 1990s Lib Dem triumph – when we won the Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election.

It was the first big by-election I had ever been to and I loved it.

I wrote here about meeting by-election legend Pat Wainwright there.

She greeted us with smiles and very clear instructions about what work we were to do.

She wasn’t afraid to tear a strip of me for doing something wrong either. “You eejit”, she quite justifiably yelled.  She certainly didn’t mince her words but I just did better next time. We had an absolute hoot.

One day she was on the phone giving life advice to someone. Exactly the sort of life advice we all need our friends to give us sometimes, in no uncertain terms.

Bob and I had only popped in for an afternoon to the headquarters in Shaw at the start of a week of travelling around the north west and the Lakes. But we had so much fun we ended up spending our entire holiday there. It was Bob’s first by-election and he got RSI from stuffing envelopes. We had a brilliant time and made several trips back there including for the last few days. I met a few people at that by-election who have become friends for life, too. 

I remember one very enjoyable afternoon skiving in the pub with ALDC’s Pam Tilson, now back in Northern Ireland.
The by-election came about after the death of Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens. In those days, the government did everything it could to avoid moving the writ in case their majority dwindled to nothing. These days they tend to be called very quickly to prevent an insurgent campaign gaining traction. In the run-up to the election, John Major resigned as Tory leader in what was a pretty classy attempt to get rid of his Eurosceptic “bastards.” He easily won the contest against John Redwood but the divisions in his party remained and grew.
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