Thursday, 28 January 2010

Sam Goldberg 1959 General Election

Liberator (Jan 2010) carries a review by former Southport Young Liberal Michael Meadowcroft, who incidentally went on to be the Liberal M.P. for Leeds West. He is reviewing Mark Egan's book'Coming into Focus' which charts the post war (WW2) survival of the Liberal Party. Leaving aside all Michael's erudite analysis -which you can read by buying your own copy of Liberator- I want to concentrate on a story Michael tells about the selection of Sam Goldberg to fight the 1959 General Election.

1959 was not the best year to be a Liberal Party Parliamentary candidate. Jo Grimond had become Leader and he was having an impact but in the pre-Orpington days getting Liberals to fight the General Election was sometimes a struggle. Southport had decided not to fight despite being on the list of 'must fight' seats drawn up by the region. When nomination day arrived there was some consternation in the party when the found out the Cllr Sam Goldberg had handed in nomination papers!

Sam Goldberg and his wife Madge were major players in Southport. Sam was the original Mr Southport. There is much to write about Sam and his politics to which I shall return, but for now the key thing is to see how the party reacted to a leading councillor putting his name on the ballot even though the association had decided not to fight and he was not on the approved list of candidates. Well, according to Michael, they backed him and in 10 days ran a campaign that won second place in a three cornered fight. There were very few first or second places won by Liberal that year when all three major parties stood. In the decade that followed the Liberal went on to lead the council with the Labour Party as junior partners. I remember Richard Wainwright telling me how important he felt this was as there were several high profile Lib/Con alliances/understandings at the time e.g., in Huddersfield and Bolton

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