You can now watch again in full one of the best fringe meetings from the party conference, which saw Paddy Ashdown, Shirley Williams and the then Guardian editorial writer Julian Glover launch a new history of the party and its predecessors, Peace, Reform and Liberation.*
Julian Glover gave a very funny speech about his newspaper’s love/hate relationship with the party – “So there you have it, 150 years from The Guardian and the Manchester Guardian calling on the Liberal Party and the Liberal Democrats to be brave, radical; praising the party’s policies and then writing it off as irrelevant”.
Shirley Williams turned to the history of America and of the 1930s, drawing lessons for the current economic difficulties, including why American history has made her a supporter of coalition government in the UK.
Paddy Ashdown’s speech included a collection of his favourite liberal quotes and why the lessons contained in them are still highly relevant to contemporary liberal politicians, ending with this exhortation:
The thing that we have in our party title – liberal – goes back thousands of years. You should be proud of that. It should give us strength, and it should make us campaign even harder … Henry Gibson once said, ‘You do not go out to battle for freedom and truth wearing your best trousers’. Sometimes I think our party wears its best trousers too much. This is our heritage and it is also our message today – and we should be proud of it.
Here is the meeting in full to watch, and chances are it is much better than quite a few of those Christmas TV repeats you’ll otherwise find yourself watching…
* Declaration of interest – I’m one of the chapter authors.