There were many at the Brighton Conference who were in no doubt that if it wasn’t for a young, charismatic party leader they would have no party at all.
In 1956 Jo Grimond took over the reigns of the Liberal Party and, as many will argue, he saved it from death.
He was responsible for the Liberal Party’s first post-war revival the highlight of which was the capture of Orpington in 1962.
It was his radicalism, enthusiasm and personal charisma that tempted the likes of Menzies Campbell and David Steel to get involved in Liberal Politics. Part of the attraction for Menzies Campbell was that Grimond “was arguing for a non-doctrinaire, non-socialist party in the centre-left,” whilst David Steel was attracted by Grimond’s personality and his power of argument.
Grimond was associated with the strategy of realignment of the left, which would bring together the nations radical, progressive forces into one effective political movement.
It is a strategy that remains very much in play today, most obviously in the devolved Parliaments of Scotland and Wales, but also at the highest level within the Liberal Democrat and Labour Parties in Westminster.