A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - R - S - T - W


Michael AlisonMichael Alison

1926 - 2004
Conservative MP 
published in Yorkshire Post, 5 June 2004


Paddy AshdownPaddy Ashdown

1941 - 2018
Liberal MP and leader
published in the Journal of Liberal History, 102, Spring 2019


David AustickDavid Austick

1920 - 1997
Bookshop owner and Liberal politician
published in The Independent, 10 February 1997



johnbakerJohn Arnold Baker

1925 - 2016
Lawyer, judge, Liberal politician
published in The National Liberal Club News, November 2016


Maureen BakerMaureen Baker

1932 - 2021
Activist and campaigner
published in The Guardian online, 28 February 2012 & The Guardian 10 April 2012


Paul BakerPaul Baker

1937 - 1998
Pharmacist and radical
an appreciation


Beaty RayRay Beaty

1935 - 2014
published in NUJ News Leeds, January 2015


Audrey BeeAudrey Bee

1927 - 2020
Teacher and pianist
address at funeral, July 2020


Connell BeeConnell Bee

1922 - 2017
Aeronautical engineer
address at funeral, November 2017


Maury BenardDr Maury Benard

1916 - 2005
Leeds doctor, dentist and former Liberal councillor
published in Yorkshire Post, 6 November 2004



Gordon Bevans

1920 - 2012
Psychologist, musician and Liberal
published in Liberal Democrat News, 11 May 2012


Viv BinghamViv Bingham

1932 - 2012
published in The Independent, 24 March 2012


Peter BoizotPeter Boizot

1929 - 2018
Entrepreneur, restaurateur, Liberal, art collector and philanthropist
published in Liberal Democrat Voice, 4 January 2019



Claire Brooks

1931 - 2008
in 'Mothers of Liberty', published by Liberal Democrat History Group, 2012


burrellMichael Burrell

1937 - 2014
Actor and writer
published in NLC News, issue 67, November 2014




Vyvyan Cardno

1908 - 2005
Conservative, honorary Alderman
published in Yorkshire Post, 27 August 2005


person Leslie Chapman

1910 - 1988
Inventor, painter, musician
published in the Armley Advertiser, May 1988


chesworth thDonald Chesworth

1923 - 1991
Politician and administrator
published in The Independent, 25 May 1991


David ChidgeyDavid Chidgey

1942 - 2022
Liberal politician
published in The Guardian, 7 Mar 2022

David ChidgeyDavid Chidgey

published in the Journal of Liberal History, issue 116, Autumn 2022


Lord Chitnis of Ryedale

1936 - 2013
Liberal strategist
published in The Independent, 31 July 2013

Lord Chitnis of Ryedale

published in Liberator, September 2013


Maggie ClayMaggie Clay

1947 - 2009
Liberal politician
published in Liberal Democrat News, 10 April 2009

Maggie Clay

Maggie Clay

published in Yorkshire Post, 18 April 2009


Stanley CohenStanley Cohen

1927 - 2004
Labour politician
published in Yorkshire Post, February 2004


ken colyerKen Colyer

1928 - 1988
Jazz musician
published in The Independent, died 10 March 1988


Patrick CrottyPatrick Crotty

1920 - 1995
Lawyer and Conservative politician
an appreciation


Julian Cummins

Julian Cummins

1955 - 2007
Businessman, Liberal, Anglican priest, Territorial Army officer
published in Yorkshire Post, 17 February 2007


George CunninghamGeorge Cunningham

1931 - 2018
Labour politician, Hon Librarian NLC
published in NLC magazine, November 2018



dahrendorfRalf Dahrendorf

1929 - 2009
Sociologist, philosopher and Liberal politician
published in Liberator, September 2009


daleTom Dale

1931 - 2019
published in NLC News 78, May 2020


Raymond Dean

Judge Raymond Dean

1923 - 2003
published in The Guardian, 23 October 2003


Baron DiamondJack Diamond

1907 - 2004
Labour politician
published in Yorkshire Post, 10 April 2004



evansLord Gryff Evans

1928 - 1992
prepared for Lucy Johnson, Gryff Evans' granddaughter


Penny EwensPenny Ewens

1926 - 2020
Liberal, honorary Alderman
published in Yorkshire Post, 19 December 2020


ezra thDerek Ezra

1919 - 2015
NCB chairman, Liberal
published in National Liberal Club Magazine, issue 70, May 2016



Maurice FaureMaurice Faure

1922 - 2014
French deputy, Mayor of Cahors, Radical
published (in French) in Allier République, April 2014


Ronnie FearnRonnie Fearn

1931 - 2022
Liberal politician
published in The Guardian, 2 February 2022 

Ronnie FearnRonnie Fearn

published in the Journal of Liberal History, issue 115, Summer 2022


Ronnie FearnRonnie Fearn

published in Order Order, Spring 2022



Clement FreudClement Freud

1924 - 2009
Liberal MP
published in Liberator 334, July 2009


Jonathan FryerJonathan Fryer

1950 - 2021
Political activist, writer and broadcaster
published in The Guardian, 1st May 2021



Douglas GabbDouglas Gabb

1920 - 2020
Labour, honorary Alderman
published in the Yorkshire Post, 23 May 2020</em


Tony GreavesTony Greaves

1942 - 2021
Liberal politician
published in the Yorkshire Post online, 3 April 2021

Tony Greaves

Tony Greaves

published in The Guardian, 26 April 2021

Tony Greaves Tony Greaves, an appreciation

published in Liberal History Journal, Summer 2021


Jo GrimondJo Grimond: an appreciation

1913 - 1993
Liberal leader
published in Liberator, December 1993


John Gunnell

1933 - 2008
Labour politician
published The Guardian, 12 February 2008



Pat Hawes Pat Hawes

1928 - 2017
Jazz musician
published in Just Jazz, issue 236, December 2017


Peter HellyerPeter Hellyer

1947 - 2023
Liberal, writer, cultural historian
published in Journal of Liberal History, issue 120, Autumn 2023


Richard HoggartRichard Hoggart

1918 - 2014
published in the Financial Times, 12/13 April 2014


David Hudson

David Hudson

1924 - 2005
Conservative councillor
published in the Yorkshire Post, 30 October 2005



ingham thAlbert Ingham

1901 - 1990
Political party agent
published in The Independent, 16 April 1990



johnstonRussell Johnston

1932 - 2008
Liberal MP
published in Liberator, September 2008


Denis Mason JonesDenis Mason Jones

1918 - 2010
Architect and artist
published in The Independent, 22 March 2010


Nigel JonesNigel Jones

1948 - 2022
published in the Journal of Liberal History, issue 117, Winter 2022-23


Trevor JonesTrevor Jones

1927 - 2016
published in The Guardian, 24 September 2016

Trevor JonesTrevor Jones

published in the Journal of Liberal History, issue 93, Winter 2016-2017



Graham KirklandDr Graham Kirkland

1936 - 2016
GP and Liberal politician
published in the Yorkshire Post, 22 October 2016


Joe KitchenJoseph Kitchen

1922 - 2007
Labour councillor
published in the Yorkshire Post, 19 May 2007


Peter KnowlsonPeter Knowlson

1931 - 2011
published in Liberal Democrat News, 2 September 2011



Enid LakemanEnid Lakeman

1903 - 1995
Politician and electoral reformer
published in The Independent, 12 January 1995

Enid Lakeman

Enid Lakeman

in 'Mothers of Liberty', published by Liberal Democrat History Group, 2012



Eric LubbockEric Lubbock

1928 - 2016
published in National Liberal Club Magazine, issue 70, May 2016



Robert MaclennanRobert Maclennan (Lord Maclennan of Rogart)

1936 - 2020
published in Journal of Liberal History, 106, Spring 2020


Diana MaddockDiana Maddock

1945 - 2020
published in The Guardian, 14 July 2020


Min MarksMin Marks

1920 - 2021
Communist activist and Bletchley Park associate
published in The Guardian 'Other Lives', 10 February 2022


Albert McElroyRev Albert McElroy

1915 - 1975
Minister of religion and politician
published in Liberal News, 13 December 1985


Joseph MellorJoseph Mellor

1869 - 1938
Liberal Scientist
published in NLC News 68, May 2015


Merlyn ReesLord Merlyn-Rees

1920 - 2006
Labour MP
published in the Yorkshire Post, 6 January 2006



Sam Micklem

1933 - 2012
published in Liberal Democrat News, 14 September 2012


Trevor MillingtonTrevor Millington

1958 - 2012
published in The Guardian, Other Lives, 22 February 2012


Richard MooreRichard Moore

1931 - 2019
published in The Guardian, 2019

Richard Moore

Richard Moore

published in Journal of Liberal History, 103, Summer 2019



David MorrishDavid Morrish

1931 - 2018
published in The Guardian, 28 May 2018


Joan MorrishDavid and Joan Morrish

Joan - 1926 - 2018
published in Liberator 391, August 2018



Dadabhai Naoroji

Dadabhai Naoroji

1825 - 1917
First Asian MP
published in the National Liberal Club magazine, November 2017


Brooke NelsonBrooke Nelson

1933 - 2017
Liberal, honorary Alderman
published in the Yorkshire Post, 10 June 2017


Mary NessMary Ness

1935 - 2023
Leeds Library member
published in Speakes Volumes, June 2023 



Mike OborskiMike Oborski

1946 - 2007
published in The Guardian, 5 April 2007


Ed O'DonnellEd O'Donnell

1927 - 2014
Jazz musician
published in Just Jazz, May 2014



Jerry PearlmanJerry Pearlman

1933 - 2018
published in the Yorkshire Post & Yorkshire Evening Post, 24 March 2018


Denis Pedder

Denis Pedder

1927 - 2004
published in the Yorkshire Post, 29 May 2004


Geoff PercivalRev Geoff Percival

1946 - 2009
Anglican minister and IT whizz
an appreciation, August 2009


Bill Pitt Bill Pitt

1937 - 2017
published in The Guardian, 4 December 2017

Bill Pitt

Bill Pitt

published in Liberator, January 2018


Bill Pitt

Bill Pitt

published in Journal of Liberal History, 97, Winter 2017-18


Jack PrichardJack Prichard

1915 - 2004
Labour party activist and councillor
published in the Yorkshire Post, 11 September 2004



Lord RochesterLord Rochester

1916 - 2017
Military officer and Liberal politician
published in National Liberal Club Magazine, issue 72, May 2017



Keith Schellenberg

1929 - 2019
published in Yorkshire Post, 23 November 2019


Michael ShawMichael Shaw (Lord Shaw)

1920 - 2021
Conservative politician
published in Yorkshire Post, January 2021


sherwinDr Jeffrey Sherwin

1936 - 2018
GP, art collector, honorary Alderman
published in The Guardian, 13 February 2019 and The Jewish Chronicle, 15 February 2019


David ShuttDavid Shutt

1942 - 2020
Liberal politician
published in The Yorkshire Post, 7 November 2020

David Shutt

David Shutt

published in The Guardian, 20 January 2021


Cyril SmithSir Cyril Smith

1928 - 2010
Liberal politician
published in The Guardian, 4 September 2010


trevorsmithTrevor Smith

1937 - 2021
Academic and politician
published in The Guardian, 13 May 2021


Peter Sparling Peter Sparling

1933 - 2019
Conservative politician
published in the Yorkshire Post, 19 January 2019


Michael SteedMichael Steed

1940 - 2023
Liberal psephologist
published in The Guardian online, 26 September 2023

Michael SteedMichael Steed

1940 - 2023
Liberal psephologist
an appreciation, published in The Journal of Liberal History 121, Winter 2023-24


Richard StokesRichard Stokes

1923 - 2023
extended version of obit published in The Guardian, 20 July 2023 


Andrew StunellAndrew Stunell

1942 - 2024
published in The Guardian online, 14 May 2024, print edition 31 May 2024


Harry Swain

Harry Swain

1926 - 2000
JP, Labour politician
Letter in YEP


eric syddiqueEric Syddique

1936 - 2020
Chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society
published in NLC News 78, May 2020



Alf TallantAlf Tallant

1908 - 2003
Labour councillor
published in The Guardian, 19 September 2003


Joe Taylor

Joe Taylor

1918 - 2006
Labour councillor
published in Yorkshire Post, 17 June 2006



Jeremy Thorpe

1929 - 2014
Liberal leader
Slightly extended version of the published article in Liberator 370, February 2015


Jeremy Thorpe

Review of "A Very English Scandal", published in the Journal of Liberal History, issue 100, Autumn 2018


Geoff TordoffGeoff Tordoff

1928 - 2019
published in Liberator, September 2019

Geoff Tordoff

Geoff Tordoff

published in Journal of Liberal History, Autumn 2019



Donald WadeDonald Wade

1904 - 1988
published in The Independent, 9 November 1988


wainwright jJoyce Wainwright

1922 - 2011
published in the Leeds Liberal Democrats Newsletter, March 2011


Richard WainwrightRichard Wainwright

1918 - 2003
Liberal MP
published in The Guardian, 17 January 2003


John WalkerJohn G Walker

1912 - 2009
JP, Liberal
published in Yorkshire Post, 22 August 2009



Eric Ward

1931 - 2006
Party agent
published in Yorkshire Post, 17 June 2006


Philip Watkins Philip Watkins

1930 - 1995
Accountant and Liberal politician
published in The Independent, 5 June 1995


Donald WebsterDonald Webster

1926 - 2002
Music critic
published in The Leeds Club newsletter - The Owl, May 2002


Peggy WhitePeggy White

1927 - 2013
Conservative councillor
published in The Guardian, 15 July 2013


Ray WhitelockRay Whitelock

1921 - 2008
published in Liberal Democrat News, March 2008


whithamHarry Whitham

1932 - 2015
Railwayman, wine connoisseur, musician, friend
Address at funeral service, July 2015


Lord Wigoder of Cheetham

1921 - 2004
published in the Yorkshire Post, 11 September 2004


Margaret Wingfield

1912 - 2002
published in The Guardian, 17 April 2002


woodhead thHarry Woodhead

1927 - 2017
published in Leeds NUJ Newsletter, May 2017

David Austick came late to politics but briefly found himself in the right place at the right time, being the Liberal candidate in Ripon when its Conservative Member, Sir Malcolm Stoddart Scott, died in 1973. Ripon was traditionally a solid Conservative seat but the Liberals were at one of their perennial peaks and Austick won the resulting by-election by just under a thousand votes, losing the seat seven months later at the February 1974 General Election. Despite further single-minded efforts in Ripon and, in 1979, in Cheadle, he never managed to return to Parliament.

In the last 30 years of his life, Austick largely devoted himself to three main causes. First was the book-selling business which had long underpinned his position in Leeds society and which sustained his political activities. Second was the Liberal Party and latterly the Liberal Democrats. His third passion was electoral reform and particularly the Electoral Reform Society which he virtually rescued from economic disaster in the 1980s.

Austicks Bookshops were the creation of David’s father, who had a somewhat relaxed attitude to business. By the time David came into the business, during the Second World War, the Leeds shop was in dire straits and it took considerable effort on his part, and that of his brother Paul, to turn the business round and to create the independent bookselling empire which has dominated the market in Leeds and district for 50 years, managing against all the odds to survive every attempt by the large multiples to see them off. One of Austick’s early “Saturday boys” was the author and playwright Alan Bennett.

Soon after I took over the Liberal Party’s regional office in Leeds in 1967 Austick came to see me, saying that he had thus far spent all his time building up the business and that it was time that he put something back into the city. He was, he thought, a Liberal, so what could he do? The immediate answer was to be a candidate for the City Council, and the following May he contested a safe Conservative ward in North Leeds. Shortly afterwards a vacancy occurred in South Leeds in a ward with a large residual Liberal tradition but without any existing presence. It was necessary to import a candidate and, given the ubiquitous Austick business name in the city, David Austick was the obvious choice. He scraped home by three votes and became the fourth member of a very new Liberal Group on the City Council, comfortably holding the seat until his parliamentary success caused him to switch his attentions to North Leeds.

He was an assiduous if somewhat pedestrian councillor and acquired a reputation for over-long speeches in the belief, perhaps as a consequence of entering politics late, that the other parties would be bound to be convinced if only he deployed every nuance of argument. Nonetheless his sincerity was never in doubt and his attention to casework in Hunslet was well appreciated. He served on the Leeds City Council until 1975 and was a member of the short-lived West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council from 1974 to 1979. During his short time in Parliament he spoke mainly on health and social security issues but found it a struggle to accustom himself to the rough and tumble of the House. Nevertheless he desperately wanted to stay there and after his second defeat. in October 1974, he sought what he thought to be a more winnable seat and was adopted for the Cheadle constituency. Unfortunately the circumstances of the post Lib-Lab pact election of 1979 meant that he was defeated there by an even wider margin.

Austick applied a typically Yorkshire business style to his politics. Once convinced of a course of action he thereafter devoted himself to it single-mindedly. This sometimes provoked a caustic response from Liberals who, though passionate about their politics, did not always take kindly to managerial methods. This in tum would exasperate Austick who, being relatively new to the party and its wiles, expected a similar attitude to his own. It was, however, a measure of the personal high regard in which he was held, that his campaigning support and involvement was regularly sought and appreciated.

After the 1979 election, having realised that he was unlikely to get re-elected to Parliament, he turned his attention to the need for electoral reform and became the Executive Chairman and, later, Treasurer of the Electoral Reform Society. The society had got itself into a financial mess and Austick devoted much time and energy to putting it back on to a secure footing. He remained a member of the society’s council and a trustee of its associated charity, the Arthur McDougall Fund, until a few months ago. He was also very much involved in Leeds civic life.

By personality Austick was a compelling mixture of privacy and commitment. He came to his opinions by his own reading and conclusion. Thereafter action was taken on principle without consideration of how his business peers or the Leeds City establishment would regard it. He was, for instance, a conscientious objector during the war and was a long standing member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He was also a committed European federalist and was the Liberal candidate for Leeds in the 1979 European Parliament election. On the other hand he could be very old-fashioned so that for some time Austicks bookshops fought a rear guard action against its female staff wearing trousers, until forced by the law to accept modern attitudes to dress.

Despite its size, Austicks Bookshops remained a partnership between David Austick and his brother Paul and their wives until quite recently. No other members of the family wished to take on the business and somewhat reluctantly David accepted that the business should become a limited company. He still did not find it possible to opt out of the book business but he reverted to being a second-hand and antiquarian bookseller - a role in which he very much revelled in recent years.

David Austick, bookseller and politician; born 8 March 1920; Senior Partner, Austicks Bookshops Lid 1964-91, Chairman 1991-97; MP (Liberal) for Ripon 1973-74; married 1944 Florence Lomath, died Leeds 9 February 1997.

An appreciation written for the Journal of Liberal History, 102, Spring 2019

Paddy Ashdown © European Communities, 2005 / EC, Photo: Christian LambiottePaddy Ashdown brought one massive attribute to his ten year role at the head of the Liberal Democrats: he was by personality and character a natural leader, and, whatever faults he had and whatever mistakes he made, that quality of leadership was always recognised. In addition he had an unusual characteristic rare in a politician and particularly in a party leader: he never harboured grudges. However much one disagreed with Paddy he never regarded criticism as disloyalty, indeed he was puzzled when a colleague with whom he had disagreed vehemently was worried about approaching him afterwards. I battled with him in and out of parliament but we remained warm friends to the end. Moreover he enjoyed debate; as such, he had an instinctive Liberal belief in pluralism. Finally, although his image was of a tough military leader with the craggy jaw and the narrowing eyes, he was actually a deeply emotional and sensitive man.

On the face of it Paddy, from his background as a marine and then a diplomat, was a most unlikely Liberal recruit but he loved to tell - often - how in early 1974, when toiling in his Somerset garden, he was approached by the archetypal orange anorak wearing Liberal canvasser. After first giving him the brush off he then invited the persistent canvasser inside. Two hours later Paddy realised that he had always been a Liberal. As with so many of us, that realisation was a fatal error, condemning us to a lifetime of sacrificial commitment to the Liberal cause. So it was with Paddy. Towards the end of 1975, at the age of 35 and with no job to go to in England, he resigned from the Foreign Office to, as he put it, 'go into politics'.1 A year later he was adopted as the prospective Liberal candidate for what had become his home constituency of Yeovil and this became his key priority, despite the considerable difficulties of securing employment compatible with his new political role.

Paddy was later prone to state that Yeovil was a hopeless seat for the Liberals when he took it on. This was somewhat of an exaggeration. Certainly it had been Conservative since it had been gained from the Liberals at a late 1911 by-election but the long serving local Liberal candidate, Dr Geoffrey Taylor, had squeezed ahead of Labour into a very respectable second place at the February 1974 election and was a bare 32 votes behind Labour in the October election that year. When Paddy became the candidate he believed it would take three elections to win the seat but such was the drive he brought to the task, and his ability to recruit capable workers, plus adopting the strategy of concentrating on local elections, that, unlike almost all other Liberal candidates, he increased the Liberal vote at the 1979 election and climbed into second place. Then four years later, adding the tactical vote squeeze on Labour, he took the seat with an overall majority.

Paddy did not find parliamentary procedure particularly congenial, not least having to speak in the chamber with opponents in front and behind. He was very driven and, as Alan Beith's deputy whip, my one problem was that Paddy accepted too many outside speaking engagements that regularly took him away from parliament and ensured that he would typically come rushing into the chamber or to party meetings at the last minute or disappear early after or even during meetings. Paddy was an excellent member of the parliamentary party. He was always convivial though from a very different background to the rest of us. Possessing remarkable language skills, on one occasion after a late parliamentary session, some of us went for a Chinese takeaway at a nearby café and Paddy showed off by ordering in Mandarin. I teased him suggesting that he had actually phoned up earlier giving the numbers of the dishes on the menu. He was not best pleased!

Like all the five new Liberal MPs who arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed, he was appalled that at the first parliamentary party meeting Cyril Smith and David Alton proceeded to attack David Steel 'viciously' for what seemed to be relatively trivial aspects of the election campaign.2 Then, despite the huge logistical problems of the need to cover the entire parliamentary agenda with only seventeen MPs, both of them, opted out of any participation in the team, refusing to take on spokesmanships.

When adopted as the Yeovil candidate Paddy had decided not to play any role in the party nationally. But he was unable to resist taking a key role in the defence debate at the 1981 Liberal Party Assembly in Llandudno, leading the opposition to the deployment of cruise missiles and thus incurring the wrath of the leadership and endearing himself to the party's radicals. This differential reception was to be reversed at the 1986 assembly at which he did a U-turn on the issue in the seminal defence debate that was damagingly mishandled by David Steel.3 Paddy had never been a unilateralist on defence but this policy reversal was unexpected and, inevitably, greatly disappointing to his mainly younger supporters. It did not help that, in his own words, 'my Assembly speech ... was one of the worst I have ever made.'4

Throughout Paddy's parliamentary career the health of the Westland helicopter company ran like a silver thread. As the biggest employee in his constituency it could do no other. In 1980, soon after his adoption as the local candidate and when Westland was going through a bad patch, it was learned that the company was about sell helicopters to the tyrannical regime in Chile. Paddy opposed the sale and was the immediate target for attack and criticism from Westland workers and their trade unions. Three years later, at the general election, the Westland workers voted solidly for him and this episode taught him a crucial lesson that should be learned by every MP today in relation to Brexit. He wrote:

The dangers of putting your conscience and judgement before your popularity are often far less than we politicians realise. The loss of votes in the short term is often compensated for in the long term by the gain in respect. Many voters want their MPs to do what is right and often respect those who do, even while disagreeing with them. The scope for a bit of courage is far greater than we think it is, even in this age of spin and the dark arts of 'triangulation'.5

Westland raised its head again in 1986 when the passionately pro-Europe Paddy Ashdown nevertheless backed Mrs Thatcher's expensive plan to maintain helicopter production in Yeovil rather than Michael Heseltine's solution of a European consortium under which Westland would become an adjunct producing one part of the aircraft. He preferred to see the Westland workers producing the whole aircraft rather than being 'panel beaters' for pan-European production.

Paddy's decision to avoid involvement in the party nationally brought its problems when he became leader but it also contributed to him being curiously naive about aspects of political 'fixing'. He tended not realise that party leaders, including David Steel, may well use 'extra curricular' tactics to get their way and he found it difficult to accept that sometimes persuasion had to give way to rougher tactics. Paddy's frustration with trying to make a Liberal impact with only seventeen MPs whilst conforming to the parliamentary processes was regularly apparent and, presumably believing that it would give him more freedom to act, he admits to deciding in late 1986 that he would aim to become the next leader of the party6 but those close to him believe that he had made his mind up much earlier.

Paddy retained his Yeovil seat at the 1987 election with a slightly increased majority and there followed all the party machinations that finally led to the merger of the Liberal party and the SDP in January 1988 and the announcement by David Steel the following May that he would not be a candidate for the leadership of the new party. The subsequent leadership election was, in effect, a foregone conclusion. Given a choice between the image of Paddy's personal charisma and the new dispensation he represented and the solid, competent, loyal party servant that was Alan Beith, party members opted for the roller coaster. The final result of 72% to 28% was somewhat unkind to Alan but he acknowledged later that Paddy 'went on to become an absolutely outstanding leader, doing enormous good for the party, earning wide respect, and demonstrating a much firmer commitment to the principles of Liberalism than seemed possible at the beginning.'7

Paddy had the huge task of forging the new party. David Owen opted out - arguably both a blessing and a blow - but Roy Jenkins had supported him from day one of his candidature. Given Paddy's temperament, being able to start from scratch suited him but his lack of knowledge of the Liberal Party, which formed the bulk of the active membership of the new party, led him into early errors. First, he initially believed that economic liberalism had been downplayed in the Liberal Party and wished to rectify this. His first pamphlet, After the Alliance, published soon after the 1987 election8 when it became apparent that a merged party would be formed, certainly trailed some of those views, albeit softened for the members whose support he knew he would soon have to win. The history of the party and its debates demonstrate that this strand, whilst vociferous, had always been a minority and that, particularly since Jo Grimond's leadership, social liberalism had been the dominant force. Fortunately the practical tasks he had to face largely sidelined such longer term issues and his first book as leader concentrated on community and on the individual as citizen and barely touched on economics.9

The second consequence of his lack of involvement with the wider party was the narrowly utilitarian view he took initially of the issue of the new party's name. The issue had riven apart the Merger Negotiating Team in 1987-8810 and each party tried to insist on its name coming first in the title. Paddy was unaware of the significance of the name for Liberals who had been committed to the party for many decades, and thought that the way to resolve the matter was to call the party The Democrats. The produced an immediate furore and, to his credit, he then appreciated the visceral attachment to the name and resolved the matter by announcing a referendum of all the party members and this poll opted for 'Liberal Democrats'11. At the time he wrote:

Being a relative outsider compared to the older MPs, I had, in my rush to create the new party, failed to understand that a political party is about more than plans and priorities and policies and a chromium-plated organisation. It also has a heart and a history and a soul - especially a very old party like the Liberals... I had nearly wrecked the party by becoming too attached to my own vision and ignoring the fact that political parties are, at root, human organisations and not machines.12

Although it was not particularly apparent, Paddy initially struggled with the responsibility of performing in the Commons chamber, particularly with the gladiatorial contest of Prime Minister's Questions. In any case the early days of his leadership were basically a rescue operation. The joint Liberal/SDP vote at the 1987 general election was 23% but the poll ratings of the new party steadily declined over the next two years to a low of 5% in October 1989.13 The European Parliament elections of 12 June 1989 were Paddy's first national electoral test as leader. They were a disaster, with the Green Party leapfrogging the party to take third place, polling more than twice the new party's tally: 14.5% to 5.9%. The scale of the Green party's surge was a considerable surprise and Paddy described it as the lowest point of his leadership and he commented that he went to bed on election night 'tormented by the thought that the party that had started with Gladstone would end with Ashdown.'14 It says a great deal for his doggedness that outwardly he showed little sign of his worries and he carried on as if it was a minor hiccup. It would be another eight months before the polls began to move in the party's favour.

He had immediately found a Liberal cause to espouse and expound. On 4th and 5th June 1989, just before the European election, the massacres in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, had taken place. Paddy quickly got involved and, together with Bob Maclennan, flew out to Hong Kong whose citizens were understandably now worried about their future when the colony was handed back to China in 1997. On his return he persuaded the party to adopt the thoroughly Liberal policy of guaranteeing the Hong Kong Chinese the right of abode in the United Kingdom if things turned nasty for them after 1997 - a right that had been taken away by the Conservative government, supported opportunistically by a Labour opposition fearful of losing votes. The prospect of 3.5 million Chinese arriving from Hong Kong was certainly unpopular amongst the electorate but it was morally right and a distinctive stance by the party.

As ever, politics in 1989 and 1990 followed Harold Macmillan's adage that it is events that determine politics15 and just as Hong Kong had provided a distinctive issue, the IRA's murder at the end of 1990 of Ian Gow, the Conservative MP for Eastbourne, and Mrs Thatcher's key aide, caused a problematic by-election. Paddy's initial response, together with other national leaders, was not to fight a by-election in such circumstances, but Chris Rennard, the party's Director of Campaigns, persuaded Paddy that the seat could be won. Rennard was right and the Liberal Democrats victory in the by-election in his Eastbourne constituency, followed five months later by a victory in Ribble Valley, pushed the Liberal Democrats' poll figure up to 16%. A further by-election gain in Kincardine and Deeside in one of the last three by-elections before the 1992 general election provided a further boost to the party in the lead up to Paddy's first big national Westminster test. His determination and campaigning across the country over the past three years had borne fruit and the party emerged from the campaign with reasonable success, and plaudits for Paddy's leadership. If the result had been somewhat disappointing to Paddy he was certainly assuaged by successes in the first two by-elections of the new parliament, in Newbury and Christchurch, following a year later by victory in Eastleigh and then Littleborough and Saddleworth, all of which gave a considerable impetus to the party as it headed towards the next general election.

Throughout this early period of his leadership, Paddy pushed the party's local government campaigns, being extremely conscious of the role council victories had played in his own progress in Yeovil. The vote nationally rose from 18% to 26% between 1988 and 2000 and the number of seats won almost doubled and the number of councils controlled increased threefold. By 1996 the party had overtaken the Conservatives in the number of elected councillors.

As with the Liberal Party since 1955, the Liberal Democrat manifesto in 1992 for Paddy's first election expressed the party's firm support for a united Europe. As Prime Minister John Major's problems with his Eurosceptic rebels grew as the 1992 parliament continued to grapple with the Maastricht Treaty, it was the Liberal Democrat's twenty MPs who rescued the government's pro-treaty policy on numerous occasions. Paddy was prepared to bear the brunt of the highly vocal opprobrium from those in and out of parliament for his and his party's principled votes in line with the party's longstanding European stance, even if it meant voting with an increasingly unpopular Conservative government.

On the 9th May, one month after the 1992 general election, at a speech in Chard in his constituency, Paddy carefully calibrated a move away from the previous basic strategy of 'equidistance', ie regarding Labour and Conservative parties as equal opponents and, in effect, by extension, equally potential partners in a coalition or a similar governmental arrangement. Instead he proposed placing the Liberal Democrats firmly on the Left of politics with a predilection to oppose the Conservative government. Though he was deliberately steering the party in a specific direction, he was simply reaffirming Jo Grimond's aim of a 'realignment of the Left' and articulating clearly what most Liberals actually felt. Even so, it was not universally regarded as tactically wise and it was criticised by a swathe of party members, including particularly some in the parliamentary party. Nevertheless the party formally backed its leader's positioning.

No-one in the party could have realised what Paddy had in mind as the practical outworking of his strategy, and indeed it only emerged much later. Following a first social meeting with Tony Blair on 14 July 1993 Paddy began to develop a clandestine political relationship with the future Labour party leader which continued until Blair's Labour government rejected the Jenkins Commission Report on electoral reform in late 1998. Paddy's aim was to establish some form of alliance or arrangement with Labour which would provide sufficient electoral traction to keep the Conservatives out of office virtually permanently. The latter aim was certainly extremely worthy but his means of achieving it betrayed a considerable näiveté about the nature of the Labour party and, indeed, of Blair himself. A rose-tinted view of Labour might well be seductive in Yeovil, with the party polling around 10%, but its control freakery and hegemonic tactics in its northern industrial fiefs showed a very different party. It was the urban Liberal Democrats who were most vocal when the implications of Paddy's efforts to liaise with Blair were seen as threatening the independence of the party finally become known.

It is ironic that Paddy, in his assessment of Tony Blair,16 says that he overestimated 'the power of his most formidable weapon: his charm', when the comment could well be applied to Paddy himself in that he had to believe in his charisma as the means of getting any arrangement with Labour accepted by the Liberal Democrats, unless his remarkably optimistic judgement of his party might prove to be accurate. In any case the only possible circumstance in which any such arrangement was remotely conceivable without proportional representation being guaranteed, would have been a hung parliament with Labour the largest party - a situation impossible actively to work towards. Whether or not Tony Blair was personally genuine in his expressed support for Paddy's 'project' over almost six years is arguable but he certainly could not deliver it. The 'project' was, however, not without its gains. The Robin Cook-Robert Maclennan report on constitutional changes set out a blueprint for devolution, a human rights act, freedom of information legislation, House of Lords reform and modernisation of the House of Commons. A number of these proposals were implemented under subsequent Labour governments. Arguably it also beneficially led to an increased amount of tactical voting at the 1997 general election.

In August 1992, soon after the general election, Paddy flew into Sarajevo and thus took the first step of the engagement with Bosnia which would develop into the most significant and respected aspect of his political life. No other politician had the experience and skills to do what he did for that troubled country. His military background, his people skills, his Liberal principles and his political judgement enabled him eventually to play a highly significant role in establishing a stable future for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the early days, with war still going on, and flying into the highly vulnerable ancient city of Sarajevo, also no other party leader was as equipped as Paddy was to sleep in tents, to understand how best to avoid snipers and to talk on equal terms with military commanders and diplomats in Sarajevo.

After that first visit he wrote and spoke on the serious situation in Bosnia the imminence of war and of the vulnerability of the Bosnian Muslims to the Serb army and to resurgent Croatian nationalism. No-one took much notice. Thereafter, time after time, he used his one allotted opportunity at Prime Minister's Questions to press the case for intervention in Bosnia, so much so that there were shouts of 'the Honourable Member for Sarajevo' when he rose to speak. Even his Liberal Democrat colleagues were concerned that he was becoming obsessed with Bosnia to the exclusion of domestic issues but in retrospect he was proved right on the lethal situation in Bosnia and the need for intervention, and his perception of the situation and his persistence in drawing attention to it were in the best traditions of Liberal action.

The visits to Bosnia continued, often in extremely dangerous situations, but in early 1993 he took time off to undertake a number of trips around Britain in order to discover first-hand the living and working conditions of the British people. This initiative resulted in his second book, Beyond Westminster17 and good publicity around the country. The 1997 election produced 46 Liberal Democrat MPs - the highest number since 1929 - giving Paddy an enhanced role in the Commons but the slow demise of 'The Project' with Tony Blair, which Paddy took a long time to accept, took the edge of his passion for the need to innovate and he became weary of being in perpetual motion as party leader and began to plan to retire, announcing it January 1999. He followed this by retiring from his Yeovil seat in time for David Laws to be successfully in place before the 2005 election. He became a life peer a month after the 2001 election.

In mid-2001 he was approached by the international community on Tony Blair's initiative to take over as the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina the following May and immediately set about putting together a team to enable him to do the job effectively. Typically, he also set about learning the Serbo-Croat language - now known as Bosnian, Serbian or Croatian depending on which country one is in - describing it as the most difficult of the many languages he had learnt. In effect the job entailed him being a substitute president of the country until sufficient stability was assured to enable a national government to take over. It was acknowledged by just about everyone, apart from the intransigent Serbs, that he did the job superbly for the three years and eight months of his extended mandate. He and Jane fell in love with the country and its people and this was completely reciprocated.

It was an exceptionally difficult job in a broken country ravaged by civil war and with its people having suffered untold hardships and war crimes. It required tough decisions at times and cajoling at others. He did the job in a remarkably Liberal fashion, involving the local people at every level. The tributes from Bosnian leaders following his death were symptomatic of the warmth and respect in which he was held. In a very real way the record of his time in Bosnia and Herzegovina demonstrate what a good prime minister of the UK he would have made.

In January 2007, exactly year after Paddy's return from Bosnia, Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair as prime minister. There followed a rather curious postscript to The Project. Brown, possibly its most intransigent opponent within the Labour government apart from John Prescott, asked Paddy to join his government as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Paddy was adamant that for Liberals to join a majority Labour government would be disastrous for the party. He would be isolated and bound by collective responsibility involving support for a raft of Labour policies, such as those involving civil liberties, to which he and the Liberal Democrats were totally opposed. He turned down the invitation.

Even then political responsibility had not finished with Paddy. Whilst on a long holiday, ending with visiting Jane's relations in Australia, he was phoned by David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, to ask Paddy to become the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan. He said 'no' but was put under considerable international pressure. He replied that he did not wish to do the job but that if there was such a broad international consensus, and he was given the tools to do the job, as an old soldier, he could not refuse. He also stipulated that his appointment would have to be approved by Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan. He was told that everyone was agreed that he was the person for the job. Karzai agreed and reluctantly Paddy took on the massive task that would necessitate him being away for two years with no possibility to take Jane with him given the insecurity and Islamic constraints of Afghanistan. Paddy threw himself into the preparations for the job but suddenly Karzai withdrew his agreement and preparations were precipitately ended, much to Paddy's and the family's annoyance but intense relief.

Paddy was instinctively and emotionally opposed to entering a coalition with the Conservatives in 2010 but reluctantly accepted that it was probably inexorable and was the decision of the parliamentary party, endorsed by a special conference of the party. His final task for the party was to be in charge of the 2015 post-coalition general election campaign. The Liberal Democrats were caught in a pincer movement: no gratitude nor even acknowledgement by the Conservatives of the benefits of Liberal Democrat participation in coalition, and excoriated by Labour for abandoning all the party's traditions and history. It was impossible to persuade the electorate that its oft-repeated refrain on the doorstep that it 'wanted politicians who put country before party' was precisely what the Liberal Democrats had done. The party, despite all the efforts by Paddy and his team, was hammered, losing two thirds of its vote and its MPs dropping from 57 to 8. The biggest blow for Paddy was the loss of his old Yeovil seat.

His end came rapidly. Paddy announced on 2nd November last year that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer. These days there is much more of an acceptance that cancer is not necessarily the early death sentence that once it was, but Paddy died less than two months later, on 22nd December. It is ironic that having survived all the dangers of the Borneo jungle and the Bosnian war, it was a 'mere' fatal disease that caused his death. The trite comment often used as an attempt to ease the pain of family is that the person would not have wished to survive in a debilitated state but that would definitely have been the case with Paddy. It is impossible to imagine him putting up with the frustrations of a long decline.

Assessing Paddy is a very broad task. He was a brilliant man who was a success at everything he tackled. He was intensely loyal and once he realised that he was a Liberal, thanks to the efforts of the famous though anonymous Liberal canvasser in the anorak way back in January 1974, he never deviated from his commitment to the Liberal cause over the next forty-four years. He was instinctively a Liberal, treating everyone alike with no awareness of 'status', which made him one of the most convivial and generous colleagues one could have. He was a great man for The Plan, bullet points and all, with tasks and targets for each member of the team - and his own work rate inhibited everyone else from complaining. He had a permanent search for the new idea or initiative, however impolitic or unattainable, and, once he had convinced himself it was virtually impossible to disabuse him of its value. His last campaign, for instance, was his 'More United' project of July 2016 aiming to put together a cross-party tactical cooperation group of Liberals and fellow-travellers to facilitate tactical voting. Some of us who had been round this course all too often, criticised him all to no avail. Typically he responded to every email. This trait did not prevent him from changing tack if he decided that it was required. The most serious criticism he faced was linked to this in that he seemed to be prone to be too influenced at times by those who spoke to him last, such as with his U-turn on cruise missiles.

Paddy was a remarkable and improbable mixture of toughness and emotion. His ability to empathise with the victims of violence or of prejudice was manifest but it was coupled with a steely determination to act in accordance with duty and judgement. He developed into a compelling public speaker and his Liberal audiences were very indulgent of his tendency to repeat the same joke or anecdote. He was himself a source of many aphorisms and pithy comments quoted by others. He was a passionate family man who revelled in and relaxed with Jane, with his two children, Kate and Simon, and with his grandchildren. He had an ability, unusual in a politician, to be able to take a short break, often at short notice, and to go off skiing or to the Ashdown cottage in Burgundy. Jane was a great partner and supporter and particularly played an important role with Paddy in Bosnia.

It is a great commendation that everyone who worked for him, whether voluntarily or professionally, loved the man and enjoyed their time with him, even though he drove them extremely hard. One reason why it was so enjoyable was that he was a genuine pluralist who enjoyed debate and discussion and encouraged all his associates to argue with him.

He was a voracious reader and writer who, from 1987, produced a stream of books on Liberalism and on military and associated topics. Paddy recognised the importance of writing and of setting out analysis and ideas and he confessed that he enjoyed doing it. He was the first party leader since Jo Grimond to have produced books and so many pamphlets. His last book, containing riveting biographical essays on individuals who stood up to Hitler, included a very significant comment on our times:

In reading this book you may be struck, as I was in writing it, by the similarities between what happened in the build up to World War II and the age in which we now live. Then as now, nationalism and protectionism were on the rise, and democracies were seen to have failed, people hungered for the government of strong men; those who suffered most from the pain of economic collapse felt alienated and turned towards simplistic solutions and strident voices; public institutions, conventional politics and the old establishments were everywhere mistrusted and disbelieved; compromise was out of fashion; the centre collapsed in favour of the extremes; the normal order of things didn't function; change - even revolution - was more appealing than the status quo, and 'fake news' built around the convincing untruth carried more weight in the public discourse than rational arguments and provable facts. Painting a lie on the side of a bus and driving around the country would have seemed perfectly normal in those days.18

In the same book there was also a comment on the flaws of one of his brave subjects that could never be applied to Paddy himself:

... they were the flaws which can often weaken the soldier who has more intellect than is needed for the job. He was a man of thought rather than of action, who weighed every step so carefully that he could sometimes miss the fleeting opportunity whose lightening exploitation is the true test of the great commander.19

Finally, Paddy summed himself up:

I was a soldier at the end of the golden age of imperial soldiering; a spy at the end of the golden age of spying; a politician while politics was still a calling; and an international peace-builder backed by Western power, before Iraq and Afghanistan drained the West of both influence and morality.20

There is a fine portrait of Paddy in the National Liberal Club. Unlike every other portrait in the club the subject is not in formal dress. Paddy insisted in being painted in an open-neck shirt and rolled up sleeves. Visible around him are three references to the peoples of Bosnia, including a picture of the iconic Mostar bridge. Typical of the man!

1 Paddy Ashdown, A fortunate life, Aurum Press, 2009, p.162.
2 ibid., pp.212/213.
3 Michael Meadowcroft, Eastbourne Revisited, Radical Quarterly 5, Autumn 1987.
4 Ashdown, A fortunate life, pp.224/225.
5 Ibid., p.199.
6 Ibid., p.228.
7 Alan Beith, A view from the North, Northumbria University Press, 2008.
8 Paddy Ashdown, After the Alliance, Liberal Challenge Booklet 10, Hebden Royd Publications, September 1987.
9 Paddy Ashdown, Citizens' Britain - A Radical Agenda for Britain, Fourth Estate, 1989.
10 It was the main issue over which I resigned from the Liberal team on 12 January 1988.
11 Paddy Ashdown, A fortunate life, pp.246/247.
12 ibid., p.246.
13 Poll of polls in Roger Mortimore and Andrew Blick, Butler's Political Facts, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, p 435. Paddy's oft quoted story that on one occasion the polls could not detect enough Liberal Democrat to provide a figure and therefore registered an asterisk was never true.
14 Paddy Ashdown, A fortunate life, p.248.
15 Cited in Dictionary of Conservative Quotations, ed Iain Dale, Biteback, 2013.
16 Paddy Ashdown, A fortunate life, p.324.
17 Paddy Ashdown, Beyond Westminster, Simon Schuster, 1994.
18 Paddy Ashdown, Nein! Standing up to Hitler 1935-1944, William Collins, 2018.
19 Ibid., p.9.
20 Paddy Ashdown, A fortunate life, p.5.

Michael James Hugh Alison, by Bassano & Vandyk Studios - NPG x174152Michael Alison, who died on 28 May, aged 77, was a Yorkshire Member of Parliament for thirty-three years. His original constituency was the delightfully named Barkston Ash division which comprised essentially the suburban swathe around the east and north east of the old county borough of Leeds - Barkston Ash itself being a tiny village between Saxton and Church Fenton. As a Conservative Research Department apparatchik, he appeared an unlikely successor to Col Sir Leonard Ropner who had held the seat for over thirty years, but Alison very much embedded himself as a solid constituency MP, so much so that he was able to hold the redrawn seat of Selby in 1983 until his retirement in 1997, whereupon it was lost to Labour.

Alison's background suggests internal tensions between duty and freewill. He went to Eton and then, towards the end of the war, served in the Coldstream Guards before going on to Wadham College, Oxford, in 1948 to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He then took a junior post at Lazard Brothers merchant bankers but after only two years there he changed tack completely and enrolled at Ridley Hall, the theological college in Cambridge whose main purpose was and is to prepare evangelical clergy for the Church of England. Having got close to ordination Alison then abandoned the path to the parish and, in 1954, turned towards a political career. He worked for the London Municipal Society, which was an anachronistic title for what was the Conservatives' London local government office. Shortly afterwards, in 1956, he achieved his first elected office, as Councillor in the Royal Borough of Kensington. In 1958 he switched to the foreign affairs department of the Conservative Research Department, remaining there until his election in 1964. In the 1965 leadership election he supported Enoch Powell. In the Heath government he held a junior ministerial post in the DHSS and, under Margaret Thatcher, he was a middle ranking Minister in Northern Ireland and thereafter in the Department of Employment.

In 1983 there then came the appointment as Margaret Thatcher's Parliamentary Private Secretary, which baffled just about everyone at Westminster. The clue was that he shared just about all of the Prime Minister's personal and spiritual values and that she put these above the political skills that are crucial to the role of PPS. It was not a successful appointment. The Prime Minister's PPS has to live in the Parliamentary cauldron and must be convivial and ubiquitous. By nature Alison was neither. The consequence was that, in Alan Clark's phrase, the Prime Minister had "a perilously inadequate parliamentary private office." His personal beliefs and his asceticism were respected by colleagues but were not conducive to the sharing of private and personal confidences on which the job depends. Matthew Parris recounts how, following his resignation from Parliament, he wound himself up to speak to Mrs Thatcher about his homosexuality. He mentioned that "a number of our colleagues in the parliamentary party are also." Michael Alison was present and followed Parris into the PM's outer office and said to him, "it would be most helpful if you could give me the names of these colleagues .... It would be useful to know. We might be able to ... er, help them." Parris comments, "It struck me he must have thought I was very stupid".

Once again a sideways shift rescued Alison and in 1987 he took on a much more congenial post as the Second Church Estates Commissioner. This, in effect, entailed being the spokesman in the House of Commons for the Church of England and he revelled in the opportunity to adumbrate regularly his deeply held evangelical views on the floor of the House of Commons.

The consistent and dependable thread running through the last fifty years of Michael Alison's life was his Christian faith. It invested all aspects of his politics and he maintained a dogged and lucid testimony to a Conservative philosophy of Christian values, often in the face of a prevailing radical trend. In the 1970s John Gladwin - now Bishop of Chelmsford - and other participants in an Anglican Evangelical conference had prepared a report on evangelical political philosophy which had a mildly pink tinge but Michael Alison insisted on the inclusion of his very different analysis.

The tensions facing an evangelical like Alison in politics were legion. Some issues drew an expected response: he was a leader of the "Keep Sunday Special" campaign against liberalisation of the shopping laws, and he opposed further easing of the divorce laws. He also supported the inclusion of the term "mainly Christian" in the content of the Religious Education syllabus in 1986. However, to the surprise of some, in 1993 he introduced into the Commons a motion approving the ordination of women. He was opposed to capital punishment in principle but, during his time as a Northern Ireland minister, he came to support it for those who murdered prison officers.

On other issues he took an evangelical rather than a party line. He supported the American action in Vietnam, he was one of only two Conservatives to oppose the Wilson Government's sanctions against Ian Smith's unilateral declaration of independence in Rhodesia, and wanted charities, including churches, excluded from the provisions of the bill to enfranchise leaseholders. He was also supportive of fellow evangelicals in difficulties: he stood by John Cordle despite his improprieties and he wrote to Charles Colson, the Watergate burglar, following his Christian conversion. He also stood by Jonathan Aitken at his trial and assisted his subsequent path to faith.

He leaves a wife, Sylvia, two sons and a daughter.

Michael James Haigh Alison, politician, born June 27 1926, died 28 May 2004.

Former BBC Radio Leeds journalist Ray Beaty died in a care home in Wiltshire on 18 October. Ray was a Leeds man who attended Leeds Grammar School and then Cambridge University, where he read history. After national service he began his journalistic career at the Northern Echo under Harry Evans' editorship. After spending most of the 1960s on the Echo he returned to Leeds as the Political Editor on the team that opened BBC Radio Leeds in 1968.

Ray came back to Leeds believing himself to be a "hereditary" Labour man but soon realised that he was much more in sympathy with the local Liberal team. He and I greatly enjoyed each others company and our somewhat subversive radical political projects. Because of his employment, he remained a "sleeping" Liberal until he could at last be a candidate, in Wiltshire, in 2009 - forty years later.

In 1970 when Phil Sidey, Radio Leeds' first station manager, moved on, Ray was appointed in his place. Ray was a superb individual journalist but his management skills were, to say the least, somewhat capricious and it was only through having excellent support staff that he, and the station, thrived. He delighted in covering up disorganisation and "seat of the pants" survival by explaining that it was really a deliberate and novel form of management! He perplexed the BBC bureaucracy and frustrated the local staff but the Beaty roller coaster of local broadcasting survived right through the 1970s and his staff actually adored him - most of the time.

Ray then went back to local journalism and became the news manager of the Warminster Journal in the depths of Wiltshire, enjoying digging out local stories and spending time on two of his other interests - cricket and railways. In July 2006 he was attacked and badly injured late at night by two youths who threw him on to the track at Bradford on Avon station. This incident may have contributed to his slow decline in physical and mental health until he had to enter a care home where he spent his last couple of years.

Ray was a character, great company and a passionate believer in local journalism.

Ray Beaty, 1935-2014.

I was very happy to be asked by Audrey to share with you some of the events and experiences of Con's long life.

Ninety-five years certainly makes for a long life and, though we miss him now, we all, particularly Audrey, can take pleasure that we had him with us for so many years. Also at a time when we know of so many friends who are stricken with debilitating mental and physical illnesses over many years, it was great that Con had such good health right up to the last few months. Con's natural equanimity was certainly sorely tested by those last weeks and I constantly pondered how tough it must be for such an intelligent and strong man to cope with the slow diminution of his faculties. At least the final days of care were peaceful and painless.

Con's early life was somewhat chequered. His father contracted TB of the spine whilst serving in the First World War and was invalided out in 1916. He then spent two years in hospital in Sheffield before being discharged in 1918. He returned to the family home in Bawtry where he married Con's mother in September that year. He was almost permanently bedridden and died in 1929 aged just thirty-nine. Not surprisingly Con was an only child. His mother lived on until 1972. Not only did she have a hard life with a disabled husband but her father-in-law, James Bee, suddenly disappeared and neither then nor later was any trace of him ever found! Thereafter Con and his mother lived with her brother, Uncle Bill and Auntie Jess in Bawtry and, in Con's words, "they were an important part of my young life." Interestingly, although Uncle Bill was an enthusiastic Methodist Lay Preacher, and though Audrey was faithful Anglican member, Con never embraced religion.

Con was an excellent student and took his School Certificate and Matriculation, leaving school in June 1939. He then started on the work which became his life career, becoming an apprentice at the Blackburn Aircraft Company at Brough. He then studied at the Hull University College, obtaining his Diploma in Aeronautics in June 1943. Con had wanted to train as a pilot but the RAF had decided that recruits with engineering qualifications could only join the RAF as engineers - which he duly did. Just after the end of the war, whilst serving in the RAF, he contracted pleurisy and was invalided out of the RAF in January 1947. Soon afterwards he joined Rolls Royce and, apart from a spell doing a Post-Graduate course at Cranfield and a year at Hawker Aircraft, he was at Rolls Royce in the Wind Tunnel Department until his early retirement in 1983. He was, in fact, a Rolls Royce pensioner for many more years than he worked at the factory! Such was his expertise that he was often sent overseas to sort out problems with the RB 211 engine at Boeing in Seattle and the Lockheed Tri Star in California.

Con kept everything! Amongst his souvenirs was a whole page of photographs of attractive girls - two of which he was engaged to before Audrey! He actually kept the two engagement rings that he was given back! He didn't get a third one - marrying Audrey in September 1953, more than ten years after he had first met her. You can work it out - they were married for sixty-four years and lived at 81 Newdigate Road, Watnall, for sixty-three of them.

In July 1954 Audrey had twins a month premature. They were very tiny and, because their survival was far from assured, they were baptised in the hospital. The son, Christopher Arthur did not survive but the tough as nails daughter, Elizabeth Anne did! Perhaps the saddest souvenirs Con kept are the baptismal cards for the twins. Katie was born at home almost three years later. The family often spent holidays at Audrey's family's cottage at Robin Hood's Bay though Con was never as much a natural member of the Bay regulars as Audrey and her friends.

Con was always involved in "action" pursuits and at various times he did hydroplane racing, skiing, boating - which he very much enjoyed carrying on with Kate, Graham and the boys - sailing, including being part of the crew of a "tall ships" trip. In later years his daughters shared in Christmas presents which followed his predilection for adventure, including hot air ballooning, gliding and trying out racing cars at the Donnington Park circuit. He announced that for his ninetieth birthday he would like to go wing walking, but this was quietly ignored, being thought to be a step too far, even for Con!

In many ways Con was very much a modern man. He coped, for instance, with internet and with e-mails, and he was not, as far as I could see, at all censorious with his daughters marrying divorced reprobates - Graham and me! (Although Audrey did say once that she "couldn't have wished for two better sons-in-law, but she would have preferred them to have been more traditional"!) Also he liked to discuss political issues and was extremely thoughtful on current issues. But in two ways he was very old fashioned. He never volunteered any information on what he did at work. He was happy to discuss his work if asked but did not initiate the discussion. He was also very happy to explain aeronautics. I once asked him how the Hawker Siddeley jump jet could move from vertical takeoff to forward propulsion without falling back on to the ground. There were immediately drawings of the process of vents and engine direction changes. I have to say that it was somewhat too technical for me - but I appreciated it!

One often talks about "putting one's affairs in order" but Con had his affairs in order - permanently! But, and this was his other "traditional" role: Audrey never knew anything of their financial affairs. When, following Con's death I was grappling with all the accounts and bills in a large box and a small suitcase, Audrey commented the she had never seen into either of them! It was perhaps typical of a very responsible, generous and thoughtful man.

He was extremely fond of Ben and Ross, his two grandchildren, and followed their progress with genuine interest - Ben's flying career and Ross' employment development. He was very close to Kate and Elizabeth, not specially demonstrative but clearly very warm. I recall that when after her graduation Liz intended to buy a very nice back-to-back house in Meanwood, Leeds, Con was worried about her taking on such a big financial responsibility when so young. Liz very sagely, took him to see it. Later that day I joined the two of them in the Eagle pub (inevitably I had been away at some political meeting). Amid the noise in the bar he shouted to me, "I think it's a lovely house and I've told Liz that, if she can't sort out a mortgage, I'll help her with it."

In fact, both daughters benefited greatly from Con's early retirement with his regular forays to make or repair items for their houses. Liz, I know, always had a long list of jobs for him at Waterloo Lodge! He had a very active retirement. He volunteered to spend regular days at the Cats Protection League and he took up wood turning with considerable enthusiasm and application, being a founder member of the local wood turning association - some members of which we are delighted to have with us today. He produced many beautiful pieces, both decorative and functional. He and Audrey enjoyed foreign holidays, particularly in Greece, and, often together with Audrey, he enjoyed spending time with Kate and Graham on the boat at Falmouth. They also came a number of times to join us at the little house in the South of France and greatly enjoyed the wine tastings. Any mention of favourite wine producers Raymond Roque or Ollier Taillefer, and Con was immediately present! Those of you who come to the house after this service will enjoy the results! The photo on the back of your service booklet shows a relaxed and well-equipped Con!

He bore the agony of Kate's long illness and death with considerable fortitude. Just a few days before his cancer prevented such trips, together with Liz and me and, of course, Audrey, we enjoyed a meal out at a favourite restaurant. It is a lovely memory and I'm glad we made the effort. Con was a great guy and he made a great contribution to all our lives.

15th November 2017

Connell Frederick Bee, 28 July 1922 - 26 October 2017.

Life for mum was all action! She revelled in being involved and didn't take to being a spectator. This applied to the church, to all the music societies she was a member of, to helping her children and invariably to cycling and walking. She amazed me. Just before the final fall that hospitalised her and when she was very frail, she told me she had walked to Kimberley and back - a good mile.

Friendships were very important. She kept in touch - both through visiting local friends and through phone calls. Not wanting to outstay her welcome she never stayed long and her phone calls became shorter and shorter. This applied to family as well as friends. In the last weeks of her life my phone calls with her got pared down to just Hello and Goodbye.

Mum was the middle of three children. Born in the Avenues area of Hull, her father, a born and bred cockney who was in the Navy throughout and after the first world war, came to visit a naval friend in Hull. He met and subsequently married my grandmother and stayed in Hull, eventually running his own business.

When war broke out, the family moved to Cottingham to try to get away from the worst of the bombing, although mum recalled that they spent lots of nights sleeping in their Anderson shelter. One wartime story goes that, in order to have a break away from the bombing, my grandfather booked a short holiday for the family on a farm in the moors above Whitby. After a couple of peaceful days they suddenly had bombs raining down around them, as fires had been lit on the moors to draw the bombers away from the sea ports. Mum and family knew what to do, but the poor farmer's family were terrified. And so ended what should have been a restful break. Not so many years ago mum and Brenda, her sister, went back to the farm and found the same family still farming there, and told them of their wartime visit.

It was Cottingham that remained their home thereafter and where mum's interests and friendships developed. Dancing and amateur dramatics and music were all important in childhood, as was the church and faith. The friendships she made during those wartime years were kept up, right until the end and she was still in regular touch with the two surviving friends.

Music was to become mum's greatest interest. She was a talented pianist and, had circumstances being different, would liked to have studied further. Mum, and her father, a violinist, played in the local Cottingham orchestra, and it was with them that she played two piano concertos - Schumann and Mozart 23. These pieces formed a backdrop to our childhood as at Robin Hood's Bay mum would often sit at her beloved grand piano and play them.

After leaving high school, and with a few false starts, she eventually ended up as an unqualified teacher and decided that that was the profession for her. She qualified in Harrogate through the government emergency training scheme, making more lifelong friends.

When my grandfather bought the cottage at Robin Hood's Bay, in 1945, it was mum who accompanied him at weekends to fix it up. It became her adored second home, a place where she was in her element, where family and friends met every holiday, enjoying the long walks she organised and spending many hours sat outside pubs. The cottage eventually housed mum's grand piano and she would play for the sing-alongs which were a feature of the holidays.

During my childhood we spent every school holiday and many weekends at the Bay, and indeed, never went anywhere else. During the long summer holidays my father was left at home to fend for himself, while we all went off to Bay for a month!

Mum married my father in September 1953, more than ten years after she had first met him. They were married for sixty-four years and lived together at Newdigate Road for sixty-three of them. Moving to Nottinghamshire for father's work was tough for mum. She knew no-one, had no job and was very lonely. Getting a supply teaching post in that first year, she met another lifelong friend, Marion, who became a great support, particularly in those early years. Right up until lockdown was imposed we still visited Marion every week.

In July 1954 mum had twins a month premature. I survived, but my twin brother Christopher didn't. I always knew I was a twin and that my brother had died soon after birth but not much more .... until after father died and we found in his papers two carefully preserved baptismal cards. We were baptised in the hospital because we were so frail. Seeing the cards prompted mum to speak freely about the awful experience - even being unaware that she was expecting twins and of having to come home from hospital with no baby - my brother having died and I being in special care. The family was completed when Kate was born at home almost three years later.

Mum's professional life as a primary school teacher meant that for ever after she organised all of us as if we were recalcitrant children! This included father who permanently tried to rebel against being regimented - but was usually unsuccessful! She taught in many schools in the area and latterly concentrated just on music teaching.

Music was a key part of her life. She sang and acted as accompanist to a number of choirs throughout the years, including Heanor Operatic Society, Greasley Singers, Bakers Dozen and the Heanor Concert Party. I am very pleased that members of her last choir are able to attend today.

After she retired mum and father started to travel more and had many happy holidays, particularly in Greece, which they loved. They enjoyed spending time with Kate and Graham on the boat at Falmouth and also came a number of times to join us at our little house in the South of France and greatly enjoyed the wine tastings.

Mum and father were two very different people: mum on the go, taking on new commitments, with father quietly providing security and stability. They were a very traditional couple: mum doing all the cooking - I reckon that she was one of the last people to do English cuisine, not least her meat and potato pie! She regularly baked and produced splendid biscuits and cakes. Father did all the accounts and paperwork and everything practical.

Both of them were of the old "stiff upper lip brigade" where stoicism was the watchword. Neither of them displayed great emotion when Kate died so tragically and they simply carried despite the immense sadness they must have felt.

Kate and I both married divorced men and Michael and Graham were warmly welcomed but one day mum suddenly said, "I couldn't wish for two better sons in law but I wish they had been a bit more traditional!" She was a great supporter of everything Kate and I did. When mum and dad came to Leeds for my concerts I would return from the afternoon rehearsal to find that mum had cleaned the house, done the ironing and that a meal was ready on the table. My father meanwhile had cut the grass and worked through a list of odd jobs. I know they did the same for Kate.

Mum adored her two grandsons whom she and my father spent a lot of time with when they were young. She looked forward to, and loved their visits, but not for long - a gentle pat on the arm meant it was time to go.

After father died she was very lonely, even though neighbours, church friends and other social care individuals visited and invited her out. She hated her increasing frailty and couldn't bear the thought of not being able to get outside every day for a little walk. Eventually when hospitalised and then in the care of the superb Alexandra House she just let go and slipped away peacefully with myself and Ben with her at the end.

She was a real character, a lovely mum and a great friend and supporter of Kate and me and of Ben and Ross.

Audrey Patricia Bee (née Smith), 11 February 1027 - 21 June 2020.

The recent sudden death of Paul Baker deprives Leeds political life of a remarkably sage and constantly radical individual. He had a gentle confidence in being able to sense the right "line" on any current issue without giving any hint of arrogance. There are few enough colleagues whose judgement was as reliable and as sound as Paul's, and I shall certainly miss him personally.

Paul was a pharmacist by profession and was a constant source of shrewd and well-informed briefings when I was the Liberal Parliamentary spokesperson on health. He introduced me to that astounding official pharmacological guide, the British National Formulary - "BNF" - within whose pages lies so much information which undermines a great deal of the received nonsense on NHS history and practice. He had the slightly alarming habit of giving one the apparently revolutionary conclusion on some issue - particularly health matters - and then working back logically and painstakingly through the arguments. From his pharmacy on a difficult estate in Bradford he took a leading role in promoting practical initiatives on local health policy and action.

His wife, Maureen, has been just about the best and most successful anti-racist worker in the north of England for many decades. She and Paul were an ideal combination, Maureen being fiery and impulsive, and Paul relaxed and tactical. For as long as anyone in Leeds can remember their home has been the venue of a large and highly convivial New Year's Eve party, at which, had anyone ever counted or even noticed, whites were, of course, in a minority. When Paul and Maureen were in Zambia for some years, while Paul wrote the country's Limited List for Prescriptions, they let their house out, saying to the renters, "Oh, by the way, don't be alarmed, but on New Year's Eve rather a lot of people will arrive. Just have a substantial amount of beer and wine available!" As it happened, they also managed to be back each year in Leeds on the appointed night.

Being with Paul was always enlivening. His interests ranged widely, including sport, and particularly cricket, with an invariably whimsical comment on Yorkshire's current playing problems.

Along with Maureen, Paul Baker was one of a small but significant number of "left" radicals who were attracted by what was happening in the Liberal party in Leeds in the early 1970s. They abandoned the Labour party for being too statist, too conformist and too suspect on race - not least following its infamous 1968 Immigration Act which abandoned the Kenyan Asians. Nevertheless they never abandoned, nor were they abandoned by their Labour friends, indeed his funeral meeting was conducted by Harold Best, the Labour MP for Leeds North West. Paul and Maureen joined the Liberal party more than twenty five years ago and have stayed with it ever since. The party in Leeds will very much miss him.

Paul Baker, born 30 December 1937, died 1 November 1998.

The death of my long time colleague Maureen Baker at the age of 79 after a short illness ends a remarkable life of involvement in radical causes in the City of Leeds. In particular she was a driving force in combating racial prejudice and discrimination. For many years she was an immigration counsellor in Leeds, taking on individual cases at the same time as fighting the wider policy battles.

A superb "fixer", Maureen combined an unbending attachment to key causes with an ability to work with any movers and shakers who would advance those causes. She would use legislation she had earlier criticised and work with establishment figures if they were useful for a particular case. Amidst much teasing she even accepted an MBE and went to Buckingham Palace in a hat to receive it, arguing, typically, that she well deserved it and that it would come in useful!

Always outspoken, she was nevertheless widely respected for her integrity, even by those not in sympathy with her work. She was fiercely loyal to her friends, always believing the best of those who were part of her wide circle. In return we all enjoyed her company and her warm and often acerbic tongue. She was a Liberal candidate in Leeds in 1973 without losing any of her radical friends in other parties.

As a campaigner she was part of the successful "Stop the Seventy Tour" which prevented the all white South African cricket team touring England in 1970. As a lobbyist she successfully changed the law in order that women in Britain could be joined by their overseas spouses - a right that had previously been enjoyed only by men. Her work over very many years of training police officers to work in a multi-cultural society was painstakingly successful and her awareness of the need to change attitudes within the police anticipated the MacPherson report, following the murder of Stephen Lawrence, by decades.

Born in Dublin, Maureen came to Leeds as a young woman. It was said that she met her husband, Paul, a pharmacist, when they were "at either end of CND banner." Paul's sudden death in November 1998 was a huge blow. They were an ideal combination, Maureen being fiery and impulsive, and Paul relaxed and tactical, with a sound judgement that underpinned her work and with a gentle way of re-focussing it whenever needed. They spent some years in Zambia from 1976 when Paul was hired to draw up the country's limited list for prescribing, and Maureen taught African history there.

For many years her friends from diverse Leeds communities knew to gather on New Year's Eve to pack the Bakers' large house, and the lasting memory is of Maureen, ensconced and immovable in a large chair in the kitchen, holding court, with a cigarette in a long holder and a constantly refilled glass of wine close at hand.


Maureen (Mary Catherine) Baker, born 6 July 1932, died 21 February 2012.

Michael Burrell was an instinctively convivial man with a very natural affection for the company of his friends and colleagues. Michael's arrival in the bar or in the smoking room invariably enhanced the atmosphere of every gathering of members there, not least with his slightly whimsical humour and his ready fund of anecdotes. Such was his vitality that his death after a very short illness is difficult to take in, quite apart from the surprise at discovering that he was aged seventy-seven. His presence and his contribution to Club affairs will be much missed.

Michael had been a political member of the Club for twenty-eight years and a member of its General Committee for twelve of them. He was a regular purveyor of good ideas for Club activities and was always prepared to assist with their practical demands, one of which was his promotion of the St George's Day Dinner in 2004 - arranging and performing in each such event ever since. He was a popular choice as Chairman of the Club in 2010 and his efficient despatch of committee was aided by his invariable good humour and his co-operative spirit. These personal attributes also ensured that events that he presided over were imbued with an easy conviviality.

He was a highly political individual and he recognised that his artistic temperament and his instinctive internationalism would find a natural expression in Liberalism and he joined the Liberal Democrats in the late 1980s. Typically he took on leadership roles as an officer of the party in Huntingdon and was a regular local election candidate for the party - alas always unsuccessfully.

Michael was occupied throughout his life with the arts and particularly with drama. Even as a pupil at the John Lyon School in Harrow he took the lead in reviving drama at the school to which he regularly returned. Fittingly the major drama prize and the newest drama studio at the school both bear his name. Following on from school he was never out of the world of drama, and following National Service, he went to Peterhouse College, Cambridge, where he appeared in numerous undergraduate shows often with such luminaries as Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi, Peter Cook and Eleanor Bron.

It was natural that he should go into the professional theatre and he played leading roles with many of the major British companies at home and with tours to thirty-seven countries. He was regularly on television and appeared in some twenty films. In addition he directed plays, including the stage premiere of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads, and wrote, having a number of plays professionally produced. During a year playing in The Mousetrap he arranged for National Liberal Club members to visit and to have a back stage tour. He recently gave a showing at the Club of his award winning work Hess, which was the first time that this film had been seen in Britain. Not one for retiring quietly, he had recently completed his first historical novel and was planning a follow up!

Many people have been touched by such a well-rounded life and Michael will be missed by all, particularly by his long-term partner, television producer, Tony Kinnie.

Michael Burrell, Actor and writer, 12 May 1937 to 28 June 2014.


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