Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Menzies Campbell’

Jeremy Thorpe’s 80th Birthday

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 29th April, 2009

jeremy-thorpeThe former Liberal leader Jermey Thorpe is celebrating his 80th birthday today, though a big party in his honour at the National Liberal Club in Westminister actually took place last night. It was attended by over 150 people, including his political successors David Steel, Paddy Ashdown, Menzies Campbell and Nick Clegg. Nick gave the first of several tributes to the man who by common consent was the most flamboyantly charismatic leader the Party has had in recent times. Alas, he was brought down by the scandal of his trial in May 1979 on charges of conspiracy to murder, of which he was found not guilty. Nick said that Jeremy’s witty but trenchant speech in favour of the then European Community in 1967 was the best political speech he knew, though he admitted he hadn’t heard it live, as he was only a few months old at the time. I can vouch for the oratory power; Jeremy came down to speak at the Oxford Union when I was Secretary of the Oxford University Liberal Club and had the audience eating out of his hand.

After his downfall, he developed Parkinson’s disease, which has left him physically wasted and wheelchair-bound, though mentally still remarkably alert, confounding the medical experts’ predictions regarding his longevity. That is undoubtedly in large part due to the devoted care of his second wife, Marion, herself also now in a wheelchair. At the NLC party, the pair received a steady stream of well-wishers at one end of the magnificant Smoking Room.

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Ming with Zing

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 19th July, 2008

Former party leader Menzies Campbell was in fine fettle at the Sutton Liberal Democrats’ annual garden party at Jayanta Chaterjee’s home this afternoon. Ming spilled few beans about the Henley away-day Nick Clegg convened yesterday, but instead urged us all to give loving support for the wives, partners and families of MPs — a point doubtless appreciated by his two local colleagues, Tom Brake and Paul Burstow, who were standing at his side. It is true that politics is a demanding business that puts terrible strains on relationships. Few voters have any idea how much domestic tranquility politicians often sacrifice for their benefit.

Former mayoral candidate Brian Paddick, also in the full flush of health, told a story whose point I didn’t quite grasp, about Puff the Magic Dragon. Something to do with Ken Livingstone, I think. Anyway, as Brian pulled my ticket out from the raffle, netting me a fine bottle of Rioja, who am I to complain?

Link: http://sutton-libdems.org.uk

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