Sunday, 3 October 2010

Marching along to Shirley Williams 80th birthday Party (photos)

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

 Shirley Williams celebrated her 80th birthday in style during conference this year. Folk who played a key role in the Crosby constituency were brought together by Drew Hayden for a party.

For Liberals one of the memorable things about the by election was the selfless way that Anthony Hill stood aside to let Shirley be the candidate. She has fulsomely recognised Anthony's move.  Those were heady days and there were people new to third party politics who felt we were going to sweep all before us at the General Election. I remember remarking to Scott Donavon (Shirley's Constituency Chair and a fellow Sefton Councillor back in the early 80's) that this was going to be a long march
Looking around at the photos there are many folk who have kept up the pace. Dave Hyland (who took the photos) I first met as a YL back in the early 70's. Anthony Hill was a Crosby YL a decade earlier and I think I first met Andrew Tonkiss-a fellow Councillor with Anthony in Victoria Ward- at the Ladywood by election in1969. The group photo also shows two other serving Sefton Councillors; David Rimmer from Meols Ward and Bruce Hubbard from Sefton's Eastern Parishes.
Shirley made a significant impact at Conference this year speaking on the fringe at, for example, the Social Liberal Forum, and on the Conference floor speaking in the debate about the future of Trident on the motion submitted by David Grace. David will be particularly please to see that Shirley wore one of his two bed badges on her birthday.  Perhaps I should explain, when Shirley was interviewed by the Guardian about the Coalition the exchange went thus:
The Guardian: “So what is it like to end up in bed with the Tories?
Shirley Williams: "
Not one bed, two beds."

Shirley has been an enormous asset to the Liberal Democrats. Her range of knowledge and understanding about a wide range of issues is amazing. She held an audience in Southport recently as she discussed and explained the opportunities and dangers in the middle east. Her passion for disarmament -especially now the Obama has shown real leadership- is impressive. But above all I guess the membership at large will rate as higher her approachability, her courtesy shown to everyone whether they considered themselves great or small. Let us hope that some starting out on their ministerial careers will take her as a role model. 

When I was going along the Ashby Canal in August - a waterway I might say with relatively few mooring places close to pubs- we entertained ourselves of an evening by watching the recently released DVD of the BBC's adaptation of Testament of Youth starring Cheryl Campbell as Vera Britten. In the final episode there is a scene in Vera's Bloomsbury flat  where she is explaining to her father her work with the League of Nations. The candidate she is supporting is Percy Harris the Bethnal Green MP 'a very good candidate' In the scene she goes on to assert the need for collective security as an alternative to war.    
And so the long march goes on.
'Sound the call for freedom boys, and sound it far and wide,
March along to victory.............

Left, left, left

Testament of Youth - Entire Series - 2-DVD Set [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - United Kingdom ]
photos by Dave Hylands 

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