I tumbled into writing essentially by accident. Just about all my writing has been either as a response to requests or to clarify my own thinking. Way back in 1961 I was Chairman of the Merseyside Regional Young Liberal Organisation and we started a magazine called Springboard. Inevitably every edition was a struggle to produce and, although we commissioned articles from local Liberal worthies - including Graham White, who had been Liberal MP for Birkenhead 1922-24 and 1929-45 - there were always blank pages staring one in the face at the last minute. Then, in 1962, after I had become Local Government Officer at Liberal Party HQ, there were constant demands to write on local government topics for new pamphlets and for Liberal News and Current Topics and to brief Liberal Councillors around the country. Also, and much more glamorously, there were always urgent requirements to ghost write articles for the party leader, Jo Grimond, particularly at election time. I also wrote a monthly political comment column for the evangelical journal Crusade, whose then editor, David Winter, survived unscathed and still appears from time to time on Radio 4's "Thought for the day."
Then came Liberator, both as a monthly radical journal and as a publisher of booklets, and I was pressed into regular service, particularly to write on community politics and on local government topics. This coincided with leading the Liberal Group on Leeds City Council and the self-imposed task of writing the annual manifesto and explanatory articles. By 1979 I had got drawn into writing on broader political subjects and I was inveigled into writing the keynote booklet for the 1980 party assembly: Liberal Values for a New Decade. In swift succession came three analytical booklets on other political philosophies, which come under the definition of "apologetics", and which were designed to arm Liberal politicians for debate and discussion. These were Social Democracy - Barrier or Bridge, Liberalism and the Left and Liberalism and the Right. Those in the Liberal Party who strove to promote a radical Liberalism against the predatory incursions of the SDP, aided and abetted by David Steel, wrote endlessly in Radical Quarterly, New Outlook, in the "Liberal Information Network" (LINk) bulletin, and for new booklets such as Across the Divide which set out a very different defence policy than the SDP hawks could encompass.
"Proper" journalism then arrived, first as a columnist on The Times and then, after losing my seat in Parliament, to earn a living solely from writing until the collapse of the Soviet Union which set me off on the eternal struggle to assist new and emerging democracies around the world.
Miraculously Liberator has survived, despite regular articles from me, and, in addition, The Guardian and The Independent have had spates of commissioning comment articles. Also, for the same newspapers and, latterly, for the Yorkshire Post, I have enjoyed writing regular political obituaries. Journalism has become an increasingly important aspect of my work.