Jonathan Fryer

Remembering Mike Harskin

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 25th October, 2012

A dozen or so of us gathered in the Guest Room at the House of Lords this evening, courtesy of Lord (Chris) Rennard, to celebrate the memory of Mike Harskin, former editor of Liberal Democrat News, who died at a tragically young age 20 years ago. My contact with him was that between editor and contributor, which was enough to make me realise how unconventional his approach was, sometimes concertina-ing a whole week’s production schedule into one marathon day-and-night session. Mike fought the Brent South parliamentary seat, unsuccessfully, and for a while could be found in the Liberal Whips office in the House of Commons, but he will better be remembered for being one of the key activists in what were dubbed the ‘Green Guard’ of the National League of Young Liberals who sometimes were such a headache to David Steel. These were an ecologically-minded antidote to the previous libertarian socialist Red Guards of Peter Hain & Co, who had made life hell for Jeremy Thorpe, and brought together such figures as Felix Dodds (now in the US) and a literal household of young Liberal activists including Carina Trimingham and Louise Bloom and up-and-coming political stars such as Martin Horwood MP. All of the aforementioned (except Felix) were there tonight, along with Peter Chegwyn, David Boyle and others. It was a delightfully incongruous setting for such an assemblage, but Mike would have enjoyed the irony. He didn’t live long enough to experience the full flowering of the Internet revolution and social media, alas, but I have no doubt he would have revelled in it if he had.

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2 Responses to “Remembering Mike Harskin”

  1. I was so sorry not to be there. I was in New York at the UN meeting on the development of new Sustainable Development Goals. Mike is a constant part of my life still, as I am sure he is with all those who attended. I am back in North carolina in my house — where i have photos of him and me on the bookcase with others that are important in my life.. I also have the wonderful A4 poster he did for me when i finished as Chair with the quote “Liberals believe our guiding force should not be self interest or class conflict, but not to rest while any are condemned to want, disease, squalor, ignorance or unemployment” William Beveridge – with the message To felix Dodds,NLYL Chair 1985-87 from Mike Harski Vice Chair 1983-86. On my desk is the photo of JFK in a rocking chair he gave me where he wrote “Felix thanks for the speech ideas Bobby wants to use them as well Jack” its . Mike is always with me he was always so generous to those he loved and i miss him very much. love felix

  2. Before editing Lib Dem News Mike was producing Alperton Focus when still in his teens for his Ward in Brent which consistently won the best Focus award at London Region Conference. His campaigning skills were also of a standard we’re still striving for in many areas. He would undoubtedly have made a difference to both the Party and Politics in General.

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