Tag Archives: national liberal club

National Liberal Club to trial relaxation of dress code

After two years as the National Liberal Club’s first woman Chairman, I am proud to be stepping down just as the Club has agreed to experiment with relaxing the strict dress code it has had since 1979.

During my time, we have taken many leaps forward as a home for liberalism: a 15% growth in membership, driven by large-scale Lib Dem recruitment; an array of transparency measures and governance reforms; and a swathe of exciting and stimulating events drawing on the liberal tradition from the world over. But I’m aware that we haven’t always lived up to our liberal mantra – as a club founded as an inclusive home for liberals – in having a strict dress code that was first introduced as a temporary measure 39 years ago.

At Wednesday’s Annual General Meeting, members voted by 49 votes to 36 to relax the dress code for a trial period this summer, so that men will no longer be forced to wear a jacket and tie. (Women continue to enjoy a much greater degree of latitude in their dress, provided it is smart – we trust our women members, and I hope we can trust our male members, without having to tell them what to wear in the 21st century.) There was a stormy debate, with sincere, passionate opinions aired on both sides – opinions which I respect, since they were expressed with sincerity. What is important is that members and their guests should have CHOICE: no one is obliged to abandon a jacket and tie, but they are at liberty to do so – except in the Dining Room – during that trial period.

When the club was founded by Gladstone in 1882, it had no dress code – apart from a stipulation that members should not turn up naked, or in their pyjamas! This continued for the next 97 years, and it was only in 1979 that the club introduced its first dress code. The club was going through a difficult time in the 1970s, having been defrauded and asset-stripped by its chief executive and being the subject of various police investigations. At the time, it was felt that the one thing the club could do to draw a line under the difficult times was to introduce a dress code. But the vibrant, confident liberal club today is not the vulnerable, scandal-ridden shadow it was 40 years ago, and I don’t think our reputation rests any longer on asking men to wear a piece of silk around their necks at all times. In an age when both the House of Commons and the House of Lords have dropped a necktie requirement, the club’s 1970s dress code seems ever more out of date.

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Jeremy Thorpe – ‘one of the bravest men in British politics’

On Monday night, the National Liberal Club was the august venue for the AGM of the Liberal Democrat History Group, followed by a talk by Ronald Porter entitled “Jeremy is innocent”.

The full title of the talk, which was presented personal views from Ronald Porter (who is an obituarist and food/wine writer for the Independent and other outlets) was:

The life and times of Jeremy (1929-2014) and Marion Thorpe (1926-2014) by Ronald Porter with some splendid help from Duncan Brack.

Michael Steed chaired the talk and Duncan Brack helped provide photographs for it.

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Wikipedia “edit-a-thon” on Liberal History

Wikipedia will be holding an “edit-a-thon” on Liberal History at the National Liberal Club on Wednesday 24th August. All are welcome.

This edit-a-thon is a collaboration between the Club and the Wikimedia Foundation (which runs Wikipedia), to get better, more in-depth coverage of liberal issues and liberal history in the online encyclopaedia, updating and expanding articles.

Wikipedia is the seventh-most-visited website and the world, and is the first port-of-call for many basic background facts, so the National Liberal Club thought it would be helpful to offer its backing to improve coverage of liberal issues. The NLC will be making its library — full of rare material around liberal history — available for the event.

The NLC is particularly proud to be doing this, as it has long been the spiritual home of Liberals and Liberal Democrats. Founded by Gladstone in 1882, the club provides a sumptuous “home from home” for those interested in liberal politics and the liberal arts: you can read more about it here, on the club’s own Wikipedia page.

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National Liberal Club elects its first ever woman chairman

Word reaches us that the National Liberal Club has, for the first time ever, elected a woman take over its running. Janet Berridge is its new chairman.

We do have to wonder what took it so long, but we’re happy to see this development.

Janet said, on her election:

I am tremendously honoured to have been elected the new chairman of the National Liberal Club. Situated in the heart of London, the club appeals to a wide variety of professions and age groups and provides an environment to suit different interests and requirements. There is no such thing as a “typical club member” at the NLC – the diversity that has been nurtured over many years is reflected by its members. My aim in the coming years is to make sure that our club’s foundations are fit for the 21st century while maintaining its traditions and much-loved customs. By embracing the values of Liberalism espoused by the club’s founders and their successors, I am confident that this challenge can be met and achieved.

And a little bit about Janet and the history of the NLC from the club:

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Portrait of Charles Kennedy unveiled at National Liberal Club

Last night, Alan Beith unveiled a new portrait of Charles Kennedy at the National Liberal Club in London.

From the Herald:

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National Liberal Club Drops Joining Fee for Lib Dems

For 134 years, the National Liberal Club has supported the Liberal cause. It was founded by Gladstone in 1882 to act as a “home from home” for Liberal activists and supporters – and it still does so today.

Something we’re constantly trying to do – while preserving the Liberal heritage of an extraordinary building, steeped in colourful history – is to keep membership costs down. And while we’re aware that the up-front membership fee is necessarily quite hefty, it is less than half of that found in other comparable London clubs, which is something we manage to combine with offering some of the very best facilities.

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Forgotten Liberal heroes: Clarence Henry Willcock

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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Podcast: The foundation of the Liberal Party

150th anniversary

One hundred and fifty years ago, on the 6 June 1859, at Willis Rooms in St James, Westminster, Radical, Peelite and Whig Members of Parliament met to formalise their Parliamentary coalition to oust the Conservative government and finally brought about the formation of the Liberal Party.

To commemorate the compact made at Willis Rooms in 1859 and the consequent founding of the Liberal Party, the Liberal Democrat History Group and the National Liberal Club organised a joint event at the Club on 20 July 2009. The evening was …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarChris Rennard 17th Aug - 3:38pm
    I like it. I think that it is much better, for example, than ‘Open, Tolerant, United’ which was an ‘internal’ message and of no use...
  • User AvatarInnocent Bystander 17th Aug - 3:24pm
    " and expect anything real in return. You aren’t going to get it!" Apart, of course, from the very real houses, infrastructure, industry sectors, power...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 17th Aug - 3:22pm
    @Michael1 I look at all the Local Byelections where we stood either this time or last time, at when the last Election in the Seat...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 17th Aug - 3:07pm
    @David Raw "this message will boomerang back referring to the Coalition years" To be fair, it's hard to imagine any slogan fixing that particular problem!...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 17th Aug - 3:01pm
    Or a rallying cry for liberal Tories trying to regain their party... ...Things can only get wetter...!
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 17th Aug - 2:59pm
    I thought I did't like it at first, then read the article and reconsidered, then see too much against it here and wonder what the...