Who is your forgotten (liberal) political hero?

In response to my post The forgotten liberal hero: Earl Grey, I’ve had quite a few suggestions for other people deserving of this description. The names mentioned include:

  • Henry Campbell-Bannerman
  • Charles Stewart Parnell
  • Nancy Seear
  • Charles Wood, 1st Viscount Halifax

That is enough to make me start thinking about doing an intermittent series, especially given my desire to write more history posts. So over to you: any suggestions for adding people to the list and would you find posts of about 500 words on these people interesting?

9 responses to “Who is your forgotten (liberal) political hero?”

  1. Pratap Chitnis (now Baron Chitnis) laid the foundations for community politics and the 70s revival in his work at the LPO, but he’s all but airbrushed out of history now.

  2. I think John Lilburne is largely forgotten – despite the recent reprisal of his role in The Devil’s Whore, an excellent Civil War depiction still available on Channel 4’s youtube drama channel. I strongly recommend watching it, and reading Paul Foot’s account in The Vote.

    There are (to my knowledge) no statues to him, and his tomb is listed as ‘somwhere nr Liverpool Street Station’ on one account. And yet, his opposition to Cromwell’s illiberalism, despite his fighting with parliament at Edge Hill, is principled. He was so loved at the time that – when parliament made it illegal to be John Lilburne (because he was causing trouble) – a Jury found him innocent of being himself.

    The phrase Honest John is based on him, and that is why, during the General Election, I was literally left speechless/apoplectic by Prescott’s attempt to brand himself along these lines. Considering how illiberal Prescott is, he did the memoray of Lilburne’s name a great, great dis-service.


  3. Clement Davies, who did a lot to keep the Liberal flame alive in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

  4. Harriet Taylor if you can disentangle her contributions from Mill’s.

    John Russell, who seems to have kept the liberal candle burning in the Palmerston era

    I do endorse Henry’s suggestion of Lilburne.

    Perhaps also William Cobbett – rather overshadowed by Paine, both at the time and subsequently.

  5. Clarence Henry Willcock of Willcock v Muckle fame, the dry-cleaner from Wakefield who brought down identity cards with his comment to a policeman that he “was a Liberal and against this sort of thing”.

  6. I’d very much like to read this sort of short article – and especially any recommendations for further reading if you come across / are aware of any.

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