Jeremy Thorpe led the Liberal Party over three general elections from 1967 to 1976. Immensely charismatic, under his leadership the Liberal vote at general elections more than doubled. Yet following a scandal, his career ended in a criminal court case. Why?
On the fiftieth anniversary of Thorpe’s rise to the party leadership, Ronald Porter (obituarist for The Independent and a regular speaker at National Liberal Club events) will present an illustrated talk covering the life of Jeremy Thorpe and his second wife, Marion, who was married to Jeremy from 1973 until her death in 2014. Chair: Michael Steed.
The event will start at 7.00pm after the Annual General Meeting of the Liberal Democrat History Group at 6.30pm.
NOTE: START TIME CHANGED TO 7.00pm
Roy Jenkins is best remembered in Liberal Democrat circles as one of the ‘Gang of Four’ who established the Social Democratic Party, the SDP’s first leader, and then a staunch supporter of merger with the Liberal Party. But even as a Labour politician he had a liberal record. In his first two years as Home Secretary (which started just over fifty years ago), he abolished theatre censorship, passed the first effective legislation to outlaw racial discrimination and delivered government support for private members’ bills on the legalisation of homosexuality and on abortion. In 1972 he led the major Labour rebellion that saved the Conservative government’s legislation to take Britain into the European Community.
John Campbell (author of Roy Jenkins: A Well-Rounded Life) and Lord David Steel (Leader of the Liberal Party 1976-88) discuss how much liberalism in Britain owes to Roy Jenkins. Chair: Dick Newby (Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, House of Lords, and the SDP’s National Secretary 1983-88).
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Party leaders matter: they embody a party’s present, while also shaping its future. This is particularly important in the values-based Liberal tradition.
A total of twenty-five individuals led the Liberal Party, SDP and Liberal Democrats between Earl Grey’s assumption of the leadership of the Whig opposition in 1828 and Nick Clegg’s resignation in 2015. What did it take to be a Liberal leader across these two centuries of tumultuous change? Who was a good leader and who was a bad one?
Join us to launch our new book, British Liberal Leaders, and discuss the challenges of leading the Liberals, with Sir Simon Hughes (MP for Bermondsey, 1982–2015) and Lord Paul Tyler (MP for North Cornwall, 1974, 1992–2005). Chair: Lynne Featherstone (MP for Hornsey & Wood Green, 2005–15).
Jo Grimond, leader of the Liberal Party from 1956 to 1967, holds a particularly affectionate place in the collective memory of the Liberal Democrats. His charisma, charm, good looks, political courage, intellect and inherent liberalism inspired many to join the Liberal Party in the late 1950s and 1960s and gained him a national reputation as someone who could give politics a good name which has endured to the present day.
One hundred years after his birth in 1913, our next meeting will examine in more detail the legacy of Jo Grimond, not simply for the modern Liberal Democrats but, more widely, for British politics and political ideas.
Speakers: Dr Peter Sloman (New College, Oxford) on Grimond’s ideas, with a focus on his thinking around the role of the state and free market; Harry Cowie (former Liberal Party Director of Research and speechwriter to Grimond) on the development of policy under Grimond’s leadership; Michael Meadowcroft (Liberal MP for Leeds West 198387) on Grimond’s leadership of the Liberal Party, 1956 67, and its legacy. Chair: William Wallace, Lord Wallace of Saltaire (press assistant to Jo Grimond during the 1966 general election).
Robert Maclennan MP, himself a former leader of the SDP, and Professor Peter Clarke, leading expert on the New Liberals, looked at leaders of the Liberal Party and the SDP over the last hundred years, using analysis and anecdotes to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of the two parties leaders.
The audience was polled to see who they consider was the best and the worst Liberal/SDP leader of the last century.
Clement Davies led the Liberal Party from 1945 to 1956. During that time, the party came very close to dying out but it survived. He turned down Churchills offer of a government position and in so doing preserved the partys integrity. His tenure was as long as that of Jo Grimond, the hero of modern Liberalism. And yet today Davies leadership is hardly remembered at all.
Did Clement Davies save the Liberal Party from extinction? Or was he part of the problem?
Owen Lloyd George, the present and 3rd Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor, the grandson of Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George, will speak about his famous ancestor at the Kettner Lunch (organised jointly together with the Liberal Democrat History Group) to be held at the National Liberal Club on 15th April.
The lunch takes place at 1.00pm and costs £15 for two courses, followed by coffee and mints. You do not have to be a member of the National Liberal Club or the History Group to attend.