Tag Archives: trevor smith

Obituary: Trevor Smith – Liberal Democrat Peer

I first met Trevor Smith fifty years ago when I arrived at the Joseph Rowntree Social Service Trust – now the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust – in 1970. I was Pratap Chitnis’ assistant and Trevor ran the Acton Society Trust which was, in effect the Trust’s research arm. We were in touch sporadically thereafter, meeting for the last time at Geoff Tordoff’s funeral in June 2019.

Trevor joined the Liberal Society at the London School of Economics in 1955 when the party was almost at its lowest ebb. He fought the 1959 general election in Lewisham West – at 22 the youngest candidate in the UK – but never fought another election. He retained his Liberal and Liberal Democrat membership but he chose an academic career and only again became publicly active politically when appointed as a Life Peer in 1997, not long before he retired.

Trevor was never prepared to allow what he regarded as self-seeking or unprofessional conduct to go unchallenged and controversy followed him around his academic posts. It was the same with his politics. His thirty-five year absence from Liberal politics did not inhibit his criticisms of the party and he wrote a number of articles in Liberator critical of the party’s management and direction, including calling for Nick Clegg’s resignation as leader in July 2014.

His final academic post in 1991 was as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ulster, the biggest university on the island of Ireland and based at four separate sites around the north. It was a brave job to take on, given the political situation in the province and the academic difficulties at the university. As ever he set about changing the top personnel and successfully challenging the entrenched attitudes at the university. He embarked on a number of imaginative and liberal initiatives including establishing Incore, the International Centre for Conflict Resolution, with the United Nations University, Tokyo. He also wanted to establish a fifth Ulster University campus on the Belfast peace line between the Shankill and the Falls Road, with entrances at each side.

Posted in Obituaries | 2 Comments

If you’re going to suggest that Nick Clegg isn’t the answer, you need a plan B ready…

Lord Matthew OakeshottFollowing the interventions of Matthew Oakeshott and Trevor Smith, there will be those both inside and outside the Liberal Democrats, who will be looking forward to next month’s Federal Conference with an eye to a future. Not necessarily the future, but a future nonetheless.

But before anyone gets terribly carried away, there are two key questions that need to be asked and, ideally, answered.

What are you changing the Leader for?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 50 Comments
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