Thursday, November 13, 2014

George Grimes Watson 1927-2013

[Later. More on George Watson here.]

I learn from Mark Pack that the Liberal Party thinker George Watson died last year. I am sorry that I missed his death at the time

Watson was part of the party's intellectual renaissance under Jo Grimond. Mark links to a tribute by Julian Huppert:
“George Grimes Watson was a great thinker, an English don and a life-long liberal. 
“He stood for Parliament in 1959 in Cheltenham, unsuccessfully, and then became a Fellow at St John’s College Cambridge, where he became a noted scholar in literature, literary criticism and liberal political thought, including being a key member of the unservile state group, rethinking liberalism and welfare. 
“His 1959 campaign literature shows how little has changed, with one section saying 'Liberals made them get rid of identity-cards – but the State Still has far too much power in our lives’, ‘The Home Secretary thinks the police ought to tap private phone-calls’ and 'We need the European Common Market – Tory policy closes the door of Europe in our faces.' 
“He was a deep thinker and a great liberal, and is much missed.”
As Julian's tribute was posted today, I fear I may not be the only person to have missed George Watson's death.

According to his Wikipedia entry, Watson was taught by C.S. Lewis and went on to teach Douglas Adams himself.

I have read Watson's The English Ideology, which was subtitled "Studies in the Language of Victorian Politics".

As I recall, it is more interesting than that may make it sound, Watson argues that the English ideology is representative government and that the writers who described and championed it, such as Disraeli and Trollope, deserve more attention than its flashier critics such as Ruskin and Carlyle.

The reason for Mark's post today is that the Electoral Commission’s table of party donations for the third quarter of 2014 reveals that George Watson left almost a million pounds to the Liberal Democrats in his will.
Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice
I hope we spend it wisely.


crewegwyn said...

Oh how I agree with your final sentence ......

iain said...

When I was blogging on Tim Farron's speech to the SLF this year I was trying to suggest that potential Lib Dem leaders should follow Grimond's approach and collect around themselves the likes of George Watson. The book he edited 'The Unservile State brought together many of those intellectuals including Nancy Seear, Peter Wiles etc. If there is to be life after the coalition then we need to recover the buzz of fresh ideas ....