Liberal Democrat peer Lord Avebury dies aged 87

Very sad news about an indefatigable campaigner who played a key role in the party over many years. As Eric Lubbock he won the seismic Orpington by-election in 1962. When he was defeated after 8 years as an MP in Orpington he famously quipped, “In 1962 the wise, far-seeing people of Orpington elected me as their Member; in 1970 the fools threw me out”.

Subsequently as Lord Avebury he was a regular champion of international and human rights causes in the House of Lords, even becoming a regular blogger and social media user in his later years.

Longest-serving Lib Dem member of House of Lords had had a form of blood cancer for more than a year

Lord Eric Avebury, the former Liberal Democrat MP and renowned human rights campaigner, has died age 87, the National Secular Society has said.

The politician was the longest-serving Lib Dem member of the House of Lords, taking his place in the upper chamber after losing his seat in the Commons in 1970. [The Guardian]

You can read Adrian Slade’s interview with Eric Lubbock here. It begins:

For a few astonishing days in March 1962, the Liberal Party led the Conservative and Labour parties in the opinion polls, the only time it had ever done so since polls were invented. Just a few months later Prime Minister Harold Macmillan sacked half his cabinet in his Night of the Long Knives, prompting Jeremy Thorpe’s most famous comment – “greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his friends for his life”.

There was only one reason for this unprecedented upheaval in British politics – Eric Lubbock’s extraordinary victory in the Orpington by-election, in which he turned a 9,000 Tory majority into a 7,800 Liberal majority.

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