Grimond and the first post-war revival

The apogee of two-party politics in the UK was reached in the 1950s. At the 1955 election, the Conservative and Labour parties, and their allies, between them took 96.10 per cent of the vote and 98.73 per cent of the parliamentary seats in the UK.

Realignment of the left

The end of Jo Grimond's leadership in 1967 heralded a bleak period for the Liberal Party. His successor, Jeremy Thorpe, was never assured of the complete confidence of his parliamentary colleagues. Unlike Grimond, he displayed little interest in ideas, though he was an accomplished organiser, fund-raiser and speaker.

Journal articles

Jeremy Thorpe and Norman Scott

John Preston, A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment (Viking, 2016)

‘Jeremy is innocent’: the life and times of Jeremy and Marion Thorpe

Liberal Democrat History Group meeting, 6 February 2017, with Ronald Porter; chair: Michael Steed

The New Orbits Group, 1958 – c.1962

A look at the purpose and achievements of the New Orbits Group.

The straight line deviationist

Review of Dick Taverne, Against the Tide (Biteback Publishing, 2014)

Churchill Archives Centre

Liberal archives at the Churchill Archives Centre at Cambridge

The legacy of Roy Jenkins

Evening meeting of the Liberal History Group, 27 June 2016, with John Campbell and David Steel. Chair: Dick Newby

Richard Livsey and the politics of Brecon and Radnor

A review of the life and political career of Richard Livsey, Lord Livsey of Talgarth (1935–2010)

The economic policies and initiatives of the Liberal Party

Review of Peter Sloman, The Liberal Party and the Economy, 1929–1964, Oxford Historical Monographs (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Jeremy’s story

Review of Michael Bloch, Jeremy Thorpe (Little, Brown, 2014)

Eric Lubbock and the Orpington moment

A commemoration of the victor of the 1962 Orpington by-election

Report: Community politics and the Liberal revival

Conference fringe meeting held jointly with the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors, 13 March 2015

Emlyn Hooson

An examination of the life and career of the Liberal MP for
Montgomeryshire, 1962–79

Assessing Jeremy Thorpe

Four views on Thorpe’s record and character

It’s Boy David

Review of David Torrance, David Steel: Rising Hope to Elder Statesman (Biteback Publishing, 2012).

Friends and allies

Review of Ian Hunter (ed.), Winston and Archie: The Letters of Sir Archibald Sinclair and Winston S. Churchill (Politico’s, 2005).

‘His presence generated electricity’

Review of Peter Barberis, Liberal Lion, Jo Grimond: A Political Life (I.B. Tauris, 2005).

The forgotten leader

Review of Alan Wyburn-Powell, Clement Davies: Liberal Leader (Politico’s, 2003).

Too short a history

Review of Chris Cook, A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900-2001 (Palgrave, 2002).

The Liberals in Hampshire: Martin Kyrle’s reminiscences

Review of Martin Kyrle, The Liberals in Hampshire – a Part(l)y History Part 1: Southampton 1958–65 (Sarsen Press, 2013).

The strange survival of Liberal Lancashire

Remembering Jeremy Thorpe

It’s Boy David

Review of David Torrance, David Steel: Rising Hope to Elder Statesman (Biteback Publishing, 2012)

Liberal defectors identified and explored

Review of Alun Wyburn-Powell, Defectors and the Liberal Party, 1910-2010: A Study of Inter-Party Relations (Manchester University Press, 2012).

Elegant and concise

Review of David Dutton, A History of the Liberal Party Since 1900 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd edition, 2013).

Liberal roots

‘A nasty, deplorable little incident in our political life’

A life-long espousal of Liberal values

Review of Mark Pottle (ed.), Daring to Hope: The Diaries and Letters of Violet Bonham Carter 1946 – 1969 (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000).

More mirage than vision

Review of Garry Tregidga, The Liberal Party in South-West Britain since 1918: Political Decline, Dormancy and Rebirth (University of Exeter Press, 2000).

Re-establishing the faith

Report: 1974 remembered

Tory cuckoos in the Liberal nest?

The watchword liberty

Review of, 50 Years On: A History of the Association of Liberal Democrat Trade Unionists, 1947-97 (Association of Liberal Democrat Trade Unionists, 1997).

The Alliance and after: The travelling of a necessary road

The SDP’s ideological legacy

Young Liberals; the ‘Red Guard’ era

Report: from Beveridge to Blair

Scottish devolution: the Grimond years

The Labour Party and the pursuit of the Liberal vote, 1945-1959

Report: why didn’t the Liberal Party die?

The election of Jeremy Thorpe to the Liberal leadership

Young Liberal influence and its effects, 1970-74

The Sutton & Cheam by-election

Abortion reform 1967

The lessons of Orpington

Fighting Orpington

Jo Grimond’s leadership of the Liberal Party

1959-74: years of Liberal revolution?

The slow death of Liberal Wales 1906 – 1979

Battle of ideas or absence of leadership?

One of nature’’s Liberals

The growth of Liberal International

Liberals and Europe

The Liberal Party and general elections

What might have been

Liberalism and Unionist Northern Ireland

Alliance, Liberals and the SDP

1945-1964: The gory, gory years

A Radical Life

Review of Mervyn Jones, A Radical Life: The Biography of Megan Lloyd George (Hutchinson, 1991).

Liberals and local government in London since the 1970s

‘Asking too much and offering too little’?

Report: Torrington ’58 – Liberal survival and revival, 1945-79

The yellow glass ceiling: the mystery of the disappearing Liberal women MPs

Review: A neglected party

Review of David Dutton, Liberals in Schism – A History of the National Liberal Party (I. B. Tauris, 2008).

Helen Suzman: An Appreciation

‘An out-of-date word’

The Young Liberals and the left, 1965-70

Swinging in the 60s to the Liberals

Red Guard versus Old Guard? The influence of the Young Liberal movement on the Liberal Party in the 1960s and 1970s

Liberal thought

Review of Kevin Hickson (ed.), The Political Thought of the Liberals and Liberal Democrats since 1945 (Manchester University Press, 2009).

Sheelagh Murnaghan and the Ulster Liberal Party

Survival and revival

Review of Mark Egan, Coming into Focus: The Transformation of the Liberal Party 1945-1964 (VDM Verlag Dr Muller, 2009).

Policy and ideology

Review of Tudor Jones, The Revival of British Liberalism – From Grimond to Clegg (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

Not playing games

Whatever happened to ‘Orpington Man’?

In further search of ‘Orpington Man’

Labour’s right wing

Review of Stephen Meredith, Labours Old and New: The Parliamentary Right of the British Labour Party 1970-79 and the Roots of New Labour (Manchester University Press, 2008).

The Liberal predicament, 1945-64

Sir Frank Medlicott (1903-72)


Community politics and the Liberal revival

The famous community politics resolution, adopted by the Liberal Party at its 1970 Assembly, helped to lay the foundations for revival after the party’s loss of half its seats in the 1970 election.

Liberals and local government in London since the 1970s

Winning local elections has been a keystone in Liberal (Democrat) success in the years since the adoption of the community politics strategy at the Eastbourne Assembly in 1970. There have been many spectacular advances across London, from the heartland of the south western boroughs to Southwark, Islington and more recently breakthroughs on Camden and Brent […]

Torrington ’58: Liberal survival and revival, 1945-79

On 27 March 1958, Mark Bonham Carter, Asquith’s grandson, won the Parliamentary by-election in the Devon seat of Torrington by a margin of just 219 votes. It was the first Liberal by-election gain since the 1920s. Although the seat was lost in the 1959 general election, it marked the beginning of the first major Liberal […]

Red Guard versus Old Guard? The influence of the Young Liberal movement on the Liberal Party in the 1960s and 1970s a witness seminar

In the 1960s and early 1970s the press coined the phrase the “Red Guard” to describe the radical politics of the youth wing of the Liberal Party. At the 1966 Party Conference in Brighton, the Red Guard sponsored an anti-NATO resolution. Over the next decade the YLs were active on a number of foreign policy […]

Whatever happened to ‘Orpington Man’?

The Orpington by-election of March 1962 was a political landmark: a stunning victory for Jo Grimond’s Liberal Party, as Eric Lubbock turned a Conservative majority of 14,760 into a Liberal majority of 7,855. The term ‘Orpington Man’ was coined by the press to identify a new type of voter, young, white-collar, skilled, well-educated and upwardly […]