Tag Archives: robert woodthorpe brown

Raise a glass in York

Conference has always been a central element in my involvement in the Liberal Democrats. Like many of us, all year round I spend a large proportion of my waking hours doing things for the party – and being able to make links, exchange ideas and, yes, gossip with people from across the country at conference not only makes doing that year-round work easier, but also makes it very very much more fun. I have really missed them over the last three and a half years – with the final cruel punch of the last-minute cancellation for non-pandemic reasons of last autumn’s big return conference feeling particularly unfair.

So I will be thrilled to be back in York this weekend, surrounded by Liberal Democrats.

But as I finally get to catch up again with many of you, I will be giving more than a thought or two to some of those who I will not get the chance to see again at conference.

That last conference we held, in Bournemouth in 2019, “the one where Jo Swinson was leader”, was the last time I saw my former boss, Steve Hitchins, previously Leader of Islington Council. Steve was certainly not about to allow his walking difficulties stop him from getting up on to the stage and telling us how the health policies we were debating seemed to him as a former chair of an acute NHS Trust. Steve tragically and unexpectedly passed away just a few weeks later – a much too early sad loss of one of the party’s most robust campaigners and one of its most effective champions of frontline diversity.

In York I will, as always, go to an LDEG fringe meeting. But I will not see Derek Honeygold sitting – like Ted Heath – in a corner seat on the front row, as he must have done at pretty much every LDEG fringe meeting ever. In March 2020 Derek became one of the first victims of covid. LDEG fringes will not be the same without his twinkling eyes and intriguing contributions to the debate.

When I make it to the bar later, I will not turn round from ordering drinks to see there the beaming smile of Robert Woodthorpe-Browne, long a smiling stalwart of the party’s international scene, with something funny and interesting to say to me. Always so enthusiastic and encouraging, from LI Congresses in Africa and being chair of the international relations committee (FIRC), to the streets of London that I once went canvassing with him on, Robert’s utterly irrepressible energy made a huge contribution to the party before his very sudden death from a stroke this last autumn.

I will not have the chance to sup again from the well of the erudition of Jonathan Fryer – another deeply committed Liberal Democrat internationalist, former chair of the international relations committee and eternally super-enthusiastic MEP candidate. But too a regular BBC broadcaster, public Quaker, lecturer and so many other things – including, astonishingly, biographer and friend of Christopher Isherwood – before his awfully sudden and tragic death from a brain tumour.

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Ros Scott writes … Party President’s report to members, January ’10

In the two months since my last report, the election campaign has started in all but name.

After a phenomenal amount of work by the manifesto team – led by Danny Alexander, the party’s policy unit headed by Christian Moon, and the Federal Policy Committee – we have now established the broad outlines of our campaign:

  • Reform of the tax system to create a fairer base,
  • introducing the pupil premium to give all children a fairer start in life,
  • creating sustainable housing and jobs and
  • political reform to bring in a fairer voting system, and

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Ros Scott writes… Party President’s report to members, November ‘09

The two months since the party’s last Federal Executive have, as usual, been pretty busy. In that period I have visited local parties in Aldershot, Altrincham & Sale, Winchester, Islington, Sutton, Wycombe, Amersham & Chesham, Swindon, Gloucester, Stroud, Cheltenham, East Dunbartonshire, Glasgow North, Edinburgh Pentlands, North & Leith, West, Ochil, and Consett. I have also attended the North West and West Midlands Regional Conferences.

The two meetings of the party’s Chief Officers Group which I have attended are reported separately to FE, but I wish to highlight the work done to develop the business plan and budget which were …

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Ros Scott writes… Party President’s report to members, October ‘09

October was a month which began for me in India and ended in Cairo. I had been invited to India by the Indian High Commission along with a small delegation of Parliamentarians who are “Liberal Democrat Friends of India”. We were led by Lord John Alderdice through a week’s visit which was split between Delhi and Pune and included a number of meeting and visits to reflect India today, politically, socially and economically.

I was in Cairo for three days to attend the Congress of Liberal International, which is held every 18 months. The Lib Dem delegation is led by the Party President, but all the work is done by the Chair of the International Relations Committee, who is Robert Woodthorpe Brown. It’s a pretty humbling experience to hear from campaigners who risk their life and liberty for working to make democratic change in oppressive regimes, and certainly puts domestic politics into perspective.

In between the two, Parliament resumed after the summer recess, and I’ve been busy in the Lords with voting, select committee work and a few speeches. The expenses issue continues to rumble.

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