Sunday 20 June 2010

Forty years on

The humorous writer Arthur Mashall often described how "treat jostled with treat" in his sleepy village, and I find much the same in my retirement. Yesterday two treats jostled together: a conference on the Steady State Economy which I may refer to in a later post, and a party to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of first standing for parliament in the Liberal interest, thrown by David Shutt.

The 1970 general election was actually on the 18th June, 30 years after de Gaull's famous call to arms to the French (though I didn't realise it at the time.) David was candidate for Sowerby, I was candidate for Batley and Morley (which has now been split: the Morley half is now Leeds South and held by Labour leadership candidate Ed Balls) and a third attendee was John Smithson, candidate for Richmond (the North Yorkshire one.)

None of us won, but David and I did save our deposits, no mean feat in those days when Liberals were not exactly in the ascendancy and you had to get twelve and a half per cent. In fact, to be boastful for a moment, I was one of only a handful of Liberal candidates who increased not only their total vote but also the percentage share. In those high and far-off times Liberals had to look for consolation in small things.

Both David and John have made enormous contributions to the survival of Liberalism. John became a founding father of the Association of Liberal Councilors (now ALDC) which revolutionised the party's campaigning techniques, and, despite his reputation for abrasiveness, a highly successful and diplomatic deputy leader of Kirkless Council. David, though unsuccessful in several subsequent elections for the House of Commons, was eventuality elected to he House of Lords (yes, elected - for those not in the know Liberal Democrats are so addicted to democracy that the party leader is required to make most of his nominations the to Upper House from a list of hopefuls elected by party members.)

One of the minor ironies of the coalition is that David, a birthright Quaker and a pacifist, is now Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard, his official title as Deputy Chief Whip.

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