Passing a pub at the weekend on my way between helping with the Winning Teams training in Sutton and being part of the Greater Islington team in the Team London quiz night in Camden (and thank you Ashley Lumsden for the tip on travelling via Balham), I was reminded of one of my favourite historical quirks about the history of Britain’s political parties.
Until a few years ago there was a group of Liberal Democrat who use to distribute material at every Liberal Democrat conference praising a Conservative Prime Minister.
Being rather commercially minded, they didn’t even give it away for free – they always insisted on people paying for it to boot.
Who were these people…?
No, not Liberal Vision, nor Liberal Future nor Liberal Other-word.
In fact, it was folk who are usually considered radical and certainly not Conservative folk, namely the Liberator collective. That is because the Liberator song book used to contain a song praising Sir Robert Peel (after whom the above-mentioned pub was named). Though he was a Conservative Prime Minister, his introduced a major measure of free trade (the repeal of the Corn Laws) and many of his followers ended up joining what became the Liberal Party as his own party split as a result of the repeal.
And so for years one of the groups in the party least likely to say we should warm towards the Conservatives was the only group distributing literature at conference praising a Conservative Prime Minister.