The strange birth of Liberal England

One hundred and fifty years ago, on the 6 June 1859, at Willis Rooms in St James, Westminster, Radical, Peelite and Whig Members of Parliament met to formalise their Parliamentary coalition to oust the Conservative government and finally brought about the formation of the Liberal Party.

To commemorate the compact made at Willis Rooms in 1859 and the consequent founding of the Liberal Party, the Liberal Democrat History Group and the National Liberal Cub are organising a joint event at the Club on the evening of 20 July 2009. There will be a reception at 7.00pm, followed by dinner at 7.30. The evening will be chaired by Lord Wallace of Saltaire (William Wallace), the President of the Liberal Democrat History Group.

After dinner, Ros Scott, President of the Liberal Democrats, and Professor Anthony Howe of the University of East Anglia and author of the books, Free Trade and Liberal England, 1846-1946 and Rethinking Nineteenth-Century Liberalism: Richard Cobden Bicentenary Essays, will give talks.

The National Liberal Club has invited the former leaders of the Liberal Party, Liberal Democrats and the pre-merger SDP and other guests to attend the evening. We are hoping that one or more of these distinguished guests may say a few words on the legacy of the Liberal tradition established in 1859 on the Liberal Party and its successor, the Liberal Democrats.

Admission to the event will include wine at the reception and dinner at a cost of £40. If you would like to celebrate 150 years of Liberalism with us, please contact: The Club Secretary, National Liberal Club, Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2HE, 020 7930 9871, fax 020 7839 4768, email

UPDATE: A podcast of Anthony Howe’s speech is available at ||||Liberal Democrat Voice||.

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