Tag Archives: roy jenkins

Roy was right – and so was Nick

Nick Clegg’s excellent book, Politics: Between the Extremes, released in September, provides a useful perspective on the new parameters which seem to define British politics. As became clear in 2016, politics is not just a battle between right and left or statist versus anti-statist perspectives any more, but between open versus closed economies and Brexit versus Remain.

But I think Clegg’s analysis would have benefited from exploring more deeply how old and therefore un-random these changes are.  Specifically, Clegg’s Twelfth Chapter Was Roy Right? suggests Roy Jenkins– who died in 2003 and in the 1980s was the leading political and intellectual force behind the SDP and Lib Dems– would not have agreed with his view of cross-party cooperation, or that the only division in politics is between left and right.

There is, in fact, plenty of evidence to suggest that Jenkins would have shared Clegg’s analysis. Indeed, I think Jenkins would have likely been his strongest supporter in the Coalition years and would have spoken against the criticisms made of Clegg, implicitly in his name, principally by Lord Oakeshott, Jenkins’ former Special Adviser, who see the Liberal Democrats as effectively a subsidiary of the wider left.

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In pictures: Leaders from the archives

Just delving about in the Getty Images archive, I happened upon these great images of our current leader and some of our past leaders*. Please click on the images to read the captions.

* includes predecessor parties.

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The legacy of Roy Jenkins: History Group discussion meeting Monday 27th June

 

One of the very slight crumbs of comfort to be found in the referendum campaign was the way in which, in some parts of the country, members of the Liberal Democrats, Labour and Green parties were able to campaign together positively for a ‘remain’ vote. The 1975 referendum on membership of the European Community saw a very similar experience – with profound results for British politics thereafter.

In the happier of the UK’s two referendums on Europe, Roy Jenkins, then Home Secretary in Harold Wilson’s Labour government, led the ‘in’ campaign alongside the Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe and the new Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher. Jenkins and his pro-European Labour colleagues enjoyed the good relations he developed with the Liberals, and this helped to lay the foundations for the formation of the Social Democratic Party, and its alliance with the Liberals, six years later – and, in 1988, to the merger of the two to form our own party, the Liberal Democrats.

With bitter-sweet timing, the next Liberal Democrat History Group speaker meeting, on Monday 27 June at 7.00pm, will discuss the legacy of Roy Jenkins for liberalism in Britain. These extend beyond Europe and the formation of the SDP and the Alliance.

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David Rendel 1949-2016

David Rendel on Newbury Town Hall steps - Some rights reserved  by Martin TodAs we reported earlier, former Liberal Democrat MP David Rendel has died aged 67.

David was born in 1949 in Athens, Greece. His father was a foreign correspondent for The Times, and he was a great-grandson of civil engineer Sir Alexander Meadows Rendel, and a great-great-nephew of Liberal MP Stuart Rendel, the first Baron Rendel, a benefactor of William Gladstone, as noted in Roy Jenkins’ book “Gladstone: A Biography”.

David was educated first at Horris Hill school, Newtown, Hampshire, and then as a scholar at Eton College. He spent 14 months as a volunteer teacher in Cameroon and Uganda with Voluntary Service Overseas. Afterwards he went to Magdalen College and St Cross College, Oxford where he gained a degree in Physics and Philosophy and rowed in the record-breaking Boat Race crew of 1974.

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33 years ago today the launch of the SDP was announced

SDP logoThe Guardian has delved into its archives to bring us the announcement, on 18th March 1981, about the launch of the Social Democratic Party.

The Social Democratic Party is to launch itself to the end of the runway next week, and even its most devoted supporters admit that they have not the faintest idea whether it will take off.

But the launching is to be conducted with military efficiency. The big names, including Mr Roy Jenkins and Mrs Shirley Williams, will be deployed across the nation to ensure maximum coverage.

The operation was announced at the Commons yesterday by Mr Mike Thomas, MP for Newcastle East. He made it clear that substantial sums of money, including £80,000 in the bank, will be available to finance it.

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LDVideo | Election archive special… the 1980s

Yesterday was the 1960-70s, today we fast-forward to the 1980s…

1982 Liberal Party political broadcast

(Available on YouTube here.)

1983 election: Party leaders on the campaign trail (incuding Roy Jenkins at 1:05)

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Who are the greatest Liberal Prime Ministers who never were?

Mark Pack reviewed Francis Beckett’s new counterfactual collection, The Prime Ministers Who Never Were, on the Voice earlier this week — 14 ‘Big Beasts’ who, had the chips fallen differently, might have become premiers.

The list is mostly inevitable with a couple of intriguing outsiders: Austen Chamberlain, J R Clynes, Lord Halifax, Oswald Mosley, Herbert Morrison, Hugh Gaitskell, Rab Butler, George Brown, Norman Tebbit, Michael Foot, Denis Healey, Neil Kinnock, John Smith and David Miliband.

Voice readers will notice one evident fact: there’s not a single Liberal (or SDP) name among them. In some ways it’s not that surprising. After …

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Forgotten Liberal heroes: Nancy Seear

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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Daily View 2×2: 26 March 2010

Time flies – Friday already! And is it really 29 years to the day that the Gang of Four launched a new political party: the Social Democrats?

Roy Jenkins said at the launch:

We want to get away from the politics of our dated dogmatism and class confrontation. We want to release the energies of people who are fed up with the old slanging match.

Watch the video of the launch here.

2 Big Stories

Digital economy bill to be pushed through parliament next month

The controversial digital economy bill will be pushed through in the “wash-up” leading up to an election, after the government confirmed that it will receive its second reading in the Commons on 6 April – the same day that Gordon Brown is expected to seek Parliament’s dissolution.

Harriet Harman, the leader of the house, said today that the bill will get its second reading. But when questioned by Labour MPs Neil Gerrard and Tom Watson about the lack of time given to debate over controversial issues in the bill, she said only that “ministers are aware” of the strong feelings that the proposed legislation has engendered.

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Aspiring Independent candidate in Chingford changes his name to “None Of The Above”

From the Waltham Forest Guardian:

An aspiring MP has gone to extreme lengths to protest against the three main political parties.

Adam Osen, 50, has officially changed his name to None Of The Above and hopes to attract support from disillusioned voters as an independent parliamentary candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green.

The move was suggested by Mr Above’s brother, Gideon, who took the idea from the film Brewster’s Millions, which sees a character run a political campaign under the same slogan.

The former Mr Osen, a painter and decorator of Woodberry Way in Chingford, said his wife, Rebecca, 43, tried to talk him out of the move and many did not believe he would go through with it.

However, he admitted his two children, Gabrielle, 18, and Michael, 15, were less surprised as he has a reputation for coming up with “off the wall” ideas.

Mr Above, or None as he is known to friends, has lost faith in Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties since the MPs’ expenses scandal.

I spoke to Geoff Seeff, Liberal Democrat PPC for Chingford and Woodford Green, who said,

Posted in Election law and News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 23 Comments

YouTube ‘cos we want to: an SDP special

If the SDP had lived on*, 2009 would have marked its 18th** 28th birthday – which spurious segue is all the excuse we need to dust off three video clips tracing its rise and fall.

Let’s begin at the beginning, with the explosion of the ‘Gang of Four’ – Roy, David, Shirley and Bill – onto the scene, here holding their first press conference in March 1981:

For a year or more it really did seem as if the SDP might truly break the mould of British politics. But the party was shattered by the results of the June 1983 general election, winning only six seats. Here’s the start of the BBC’s election night results programme.

Posted in YouTube | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 4 Comments
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  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 26th Sep - 4:14pm
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  • User Avatarfrankie 26th Sep - 3:55pm
    We will live in intresting times and many polticians will be attemptting to avoid blame by shouting "Look an EU rabbit". This may well work...
  • User AvatarJenny Barnes 26th Sep - 3:19pm
    expats "The last ‘real’ leader was Nick Clegg, " If that's a real leader, we're better off without one.