Sad news: Diana Maddock, member of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords and previously in the 1990s a Lib Dem MP has passed away.
Her victory in the 1993 Parliamentary by-election for Christchurch constituency saw a humongous swing against John Major’s Conservative government. It formed part of the run of successes that led up to the party’s breakthrough at the 1997 general election.
As The Independent reported of Professor Ivor Crewe saying of her victory:
Christchurch goes off the Richter Scale of by-election earthquakes. Commentators’ references to the ‘biggest swing against the Conservatives since the war’ fall short of its true measure.
It was the largest swing against any government since Britain’s modern party system was established in 1918. Setting aside freak results caused by party splits, no modern government has seen its support fall by as much as the Conservative vote fell in Christchurch.
On Thursday the Conservative vote fell by 32 percentage points.
This by-election was when I first met Diana, as I spent time working as a campaign volunteer, desperately trying to ensuring that the creating of new canvass packs could keep up with the floor of volunteers each day eating through improbably large volumes of leaflet delivery and canvassing.
Kind, patient and smart, Diana was a councillor, a great by-election candidate, an MP for all too few years and then a valued member of the House of Lords for many more. In 2001 she married former Liberal Democrat MP Alan Beith.
Thank you for everything Diana, and much love and condolences to Alan, all her family and her many friends.
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