Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Meadowcroft Opens Some Liberal Eyes

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 5th December, 2007

meadowcroft.jpgOne of the most pleasing political developments in recent months has been Michael Meadowcroft’s decision to join the Liberal Democrats, having stayed outside the mainstream party since the Liberal/SDP merger. He was, of course, Liberal Alliance MP for Leeds West from 1983 to 1987. Fortunately, through his membership of Liberal International British Group, the Liberal History Group and not least the National Liberal Club he remained in touch with many old political friends. But it was particularly good to be able to welcome him today as guest speaker at the NLC’s Wednesday Circle Luncheon, for his erudite and entertaining address on the Leeds Convention of June 1917.

I think it is probably safe to say that until today, no-one in the room apart from Michael had ever heard of the Leeds Convention; I certainly hadn’t. Yet the event was described by Ralph Miliband (father of David and Ed) as ‘perhaps the most remarkable gathering of the period’.  It occurred in the Yorkshire city between the February and October Russian Revolutions, and had as one of its slogans, ‘Follow the Russians!’ The idea was mooted that some sort of local soviets could be established among workers and even soldiers in the UK, and it attracted participants from pacifist groups such as the Quakers, as well as socialists and communists. The Convention provided a platform for anti-War feeling, but the Prime Minister of the day, David Lloyd George wisely refused to get agitated about it. Perhaps he intuitively knew what of significance would happen after the conference: precisely nothing.  

One Response to “Meadowcroft Opens Some Liberal Eyes”

  1. […] Just hold that image… And here’s another five worth a read (if you haven’t already): 8. Meadowcroft Opens Some Liberal Eyes on Jonathan Fryer’s blog. Old friends reunited. 9. Mr Smug, Mr Smarm and my naked ballot paper […]

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