Tonight, 8pm, BBC Parliament – Conversation with Shirley Williams

Shirley Williams is probably my biggest political hero. It was she who inspired me in 1981 when she fought the Crosby by-election. Her sharp intellect, indefatigable energy and ability to communicate with her audience have all made sure that she is loved by many of all political persuasions.

She came up to Scotland during the last few days of the horribly divisive independence referendum in 2014. It was a painful time. However, as Shirley stepped on to Dunfermline High Street, one of the Yes campaigners came across and took her hand and said how much she had always admired her. It was a rare moment of togetherness during that most unpleasant of campaigns.

I was distraught that I missed her when she came up to Edinburgh West and East Dunbartonshire during the General Election. At 86, she was still supporting and helping other women get to Westminster. 

Anyway, I know I’m not alone in my devotion to Shirley. So, you’ll be pleased to hear that there’s an interview with her on BBC Parliament tonight at 8pm. It’ll be available here on iPlayer later.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Richard Underhill 16th Jul '17 - 10:45am

    “Some people have been doing something known as ‘Keeping your head down’. Conviction politician Shirley Williams, then in the Labour Party, but not an MP at the time, talking about Labour MPs, prior to the founding of the Social Democratic Party.

  • I saw Shirley speak at my University about 10 years ago and she was utterly awesome.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Jul '17 - 12:49pm

    Well done for that , you and me both, Caron, on our wonderful, Shirley, Williams.

    I often defend the legacy of those who left Labour , as an ex member of Labour myself the SDP , not a party I was in but do regard highly , and those who did more than keep their head down.

    Shirley is , funnily enough probably my most revered and admired politician, and , even now, the one I have not met or heard speak personally.

  • Yeovil Yokel 16th Jul '17 - 3:03pm

    I’ve lived in Paddy’s old constituency for 25 years but it’s Shirley’s picture on my membership card.

  • Louise Harris 16th Jul '17 - 3:07pm

    Thanks for flagging that up, as another Shirley worshipper I’ll come back to it later 🙂

  • Bernard Aris 16th Jul '17 - 4:59pm

    We in the Dutch D66 will never forget the time when Shirley in 1984, when we were really getting clobbered at every election, came over to our European Election Campaign Launch in Rotterdam. That was the thing that attracted at least some Dutch media (who ignored us for the entire rest of our struggling campaign).
    Sadly we lost both our seats in the European Parlament that year, but Shirley gave us hope: “we’re not alone in puting Social Liberal points about Europe”..

    And visiting the 2013 LibDem Spring Conference in Newcastle, I witnessed Shirley being brilliant in her balanced approach to NHS reform…

    With the late D66 Dutch health minister doctor Els Borst (murdered at 81 years by a psychiatric patient who had fallen through the net of Dutch health care and police; see ), Shirley for me is one of those “wise old women” we Social Liberals excell in…

  • jayne Mansfield 16th Jul '17 - 5:43pm

    @ Bernard Aris,
    Some of us, massive supporters of Shirley Williams, will never forget her role in the NHS and Social Care Act.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Jul '17 - 10:20pm

    She is very polite to the interviewing journalist, which meant he allocated time. There is the speech she gave at the count of the Crosby by-election, a radical centrist. No mention of the stich-up over boundary changes before the 1983 general election between Labour and Conservatives. If they agreed there had been a wrong assumption that the change must be OK.
    Also missing from the interview are her views on housing. her writings show that she and her husband bought a house jointly with another couple who were friends and shared babysitting duties. She thought more people should do this.
    I missed the speech given by Daniel Barenboim at the Proms tonight, another hero.

  • Stephen Yolland 17th Jul '17 - 8:16am

    I respectfully disagree. Shirley was a small c conservative in Labour, in the SDP, and in the Lib Dems. I’m not saying she isn’t nice on a personal level of course.

  • Simon McGrath 17th Jul '17 - 10:21am

    @stephen – can you give some examples of why you think Shirley was a conservative please?

  • A very interesting programme – thanks for highlighting. Also worth watching Tim Farron’s interview with 5 live that was shown immediately afterwards and is on the iPlayer which was one of the best and most “mature” for want of a better word and relaxed interviews i have seen with a politician.


    As a thought should the party have some recognition of Shirley at a conference as I don’t think that there has been? And the party owes her a lot.

  • Richard Fagence 17th Jul '17 - 3:13pm

    Michael is correct in saying that the party owes Shirley a lot. Something we could all do as a start would be to send her a card for her birthday on July 27th. I intend to do this – as I have done for a few years – to LDHQ for them to forward them to her. You shouldn’t comment on a lady’s age, but she will be seventeen years older than me on the 27th and I will still be seventy, with a fraction of her energy and intellectual capacity. She is, as someone said, one of my heroes.

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