Things we hold dear

Like many the lockdown left me searching for things to do in this unique situation.

A search on the Film 4 website took me to the complete series of the hit US comedy Seinfeld so I decided to work my way through it knowing that it would make me laugh as it did 25 years ago. Throughout the series there are passing references to sport and politics which got me thinking about both in a somewhat unusual way.

Seinfeld is set in New York, a city that lost its iconic baseball team the Brooklyn Dodgers back in the late 1950s when the owner moved them to Los Angeles. Thousands had packed into the Dodgers stadium for decades but that didn’t save it from the wrecking ball.

Here in the UK too stadiums and teams have also been consigned to history. In my home town of Reading the football team I have supported since childhood moved grounds in 1998 and, although it was within the same borough, I always missed the old place where I stood on the terraces engrossed in the action. Worse still, the town’s speedway club Reading Racers, twice British champions, saw their stadium close in 2008 with promises from the local council to find a new one coming to nothing. Racers fans are still waiting. Now the economic crisis brought about by Coronavirus threatens the existence of many more sports clubs.

In politics, too, those of us of a certain age have seen plenty of change. The lockdown gave me time to put some finishing touches to a document chronicling my life in politics ‘From Labour To Liberty’, and to circulate it to some fellow Liberals for comment. I have also found time to read more about the history of our party, finding myself focusing on the period from the formation of the SDP up to and immediately following the merger – a time when the party’s very existence was under threat. Fortunately the Liberal Democrats survived and, despite some writing us off, we continue as a fixture on the political landscape. The obituary of organised Liberalism has been penned by our opponents many times in the last century but the flame has been kept burning by some dedicated people.

In the years ahead those, like me, for whom the party is a big part of our life can and must ensure we continue, as I know we will. Unlike those dedicated fans of the Dodgers, the Racers and many others, our future is in our own hands. As we emerge from the current crisis into a new world our party will be needed more than ever.


* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Apr '20 - 2:22pm

    David, as ever , a lovely article to reflect on.

    I find myself ever someone who looks forward, in personality, but looks back culturally, often to classic stuff, tv, music. Always love the vintage wine of culture. Not a fan of sport, though relate to your comments. I have enjoyed old videos a lot, on you tube, dvd, all, everything from Vince Hill on Des O’Connor, to Roy Dotrice on Beauty and the Beast, must be our fondness for childhood, youth, but also, an awareness, those things that were good or great or enjoyable, usually remain so.
    This brings us a sense comfort and a sense of connection, to ourselves, that which lasts.


  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Apr '20 - 2:24pm

    My wife and I, find these sorts of appreciated and valued cultural visits, to that we like and love, keeps us sane……..just…….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Thanks David. I’m not aware of a sports team known as the Cockroaches but when it was suggested (by Tim Farron, I think) that we could be seen as the cockroach tendency that struck me as pretty apposite. There are those in other parties who find us very distasteful and just want us to go away – but we keep on disappointing them…

  • David Warren 1st May '20 - 9:59am

    Thanks Guys.

    Maybe us Liberals are the Millwall of politics?

  • I too use to stand on the terraces at Elm Park, but I can speak with more authority on the Reading Racers. (I wrote the club history inbetween my second and third spells as a Lib Dem councillor.)

    I think it is unfair to imply that the council failed to give the speedway team sufficient support when faced with closure. The council provided a new site (Island Road) and granted planning permission. The sad truth is that speedway in Reading was no longer economically viable and in the era of austerity any subsidy from the council was an unrealistic expectation.

    I should also point out the Racers won four (not two) titles in the senior league (1973,1980, 1990, 1992) as well as being runners-up in 1972 and 2006.

    I think the Lib Dems will outlive British speedway but they do need to be realistic – they are still in a battle for survival.

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