Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Political pamphlets and jazz and the Alliance...

Michael Meadowcroft spoke at the Southport Lib Dem dinner and talked about his time as a Southport YL from 1958 onwards. You can view a video of his talk here

I had been asked to introduce him and I was trying to recall when I first met Michael. Like any Young Liberal -ten years after Michael- I had heard of him very early on. He had worked in the Local Government Department at the old LPO -a projected sponsored by Richard Wainwright. He then went to Leeds and became a City Councillor-the first for several generation. It was in this role that he began reflecting on his experience and writing. This was at the same time as Young Liberal and other in the Party were developing their ideas about Community Politics.

In 1974 I was Political Vice Chair of NLYL. In common with many I was less than impressed with Thorpe's leadership and the lack of ideas and policy that were being developed. Encouraged by Richard Wainwright I set out to publish some political pamphlets and I approached Michael to write one. In the end we did four; Michael on the Popular Front and Liberals, Jo Grimond on Democracy, Thoreau on Civil Disobedience and Peter Kropotkin's Appeal to the Young. Michael often joked that they sounded like a firm of shady solicitors: Kropotkin,Meadowcroft, Thoreau and Grimond.

Another decade on in the midst of the Alliance the Policy Committee decided that we needed a debate in the Party about the future of Liberalism and William Wallace and I were dispatched to Leeds to ask Michael to write another pamphlet. I think that was the first time I met with partner Liz Bee.

For many of us the bruising time spent working in the Alliance especially after 1983 when Owen took over from Jenkins as leader of the SDP took its toll. I remember the soundtrack to those times as played by Michael's jazz band-Granny Lee's All Stars which featured -from time to time Archy Kirkwood on guitar as well as Michael. I still have a copy of the record they produced at that time.

Well there was no jazz on Saturday night but plenty of time to catch up and meet folk. It was pleasing to see so many people come along and Pat Sumner and her team deserve our thanks for all their efforts.

You can read more about Liz and Michael on their website

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