Saturday, December 28, 2013

Liberal England in 2013 - part 1

If Lord Bonkers can look back on 2013 so can I. This is the first of four posts looking back at how this blog saw 2013.


The year began with Jeremy Browne telling us that being in government had been "a growing-up process for the Lib Dems". And in a post that was later picked up by Wired, I discussed how changing your vocabulary can convert your opponents.

I was still recollecting the previous summer's visit to Shropshire. The magnificent Wistanstow Village Hall turned out to be a palace built on chamber pots, while the photo above shows a memorial to three children who died in a hotel fire in Church Stretton in 1968.

Amid the month's blizzards, I asked why so many schools now close when it snows.

After discovering the songs of Nick Drake's mother, I commissioned a post on the politics of railway preservation from Joseph Boughey after seeing him on a television documentary. I was not too surprised that he turned out to be a former Young Liberal.


To the dismay of my sterner critics, railways proved to be a theme of this month too. I wrote of the plans for HS2:
If politics goes in cycles then this is pretty much where I came in. We are once again living in an age where the man in Whitehall knows best and environmental concerns are seen as the enthusiasms of an eccentric fringe.
I discovered a wonderful video of a pair of steam locomotives bursting out of Wing Tunnel in Rutland and found that the author of a book that was read to us at Boxmoor County Primary School - Peril on the Iron Road - was the father of the novelist Deborah Moggach.

Back in the political world, I suggested that Tim Mongomerie's appointment as comment editor of The Time was good news for Tim Mongomerie but bad news for David Cameron. And the photo above shows a Conservative press officer in the Eastleigh by-election reacting to a bon mot from the his candidate Maria Hutchings.


The month began with news that a Rutland aristocrat was employing a disgraced former Tory MP who had caned rent boys. Don't worry: it wasn't Lord Bonkers. And her involvement with poor Vicky Pryce saw Isabel Oakeshott win Email of the Week.

Controversy over secret courts found Tom McNally in Wonderland, while I faced up to the depredations of Cyril Smith - a subject which other Lib Dem bloggers avoided (probably because they are too young to remember him).

I spent most of the year failing to review Broke: Who Killed the Middle Classes? by David Boyle, but I discovered that an article of mine for the Journal of Liberal History - Searching for Paddy Logan - is now freely available.

Reader: [Shifts feet nervously.]

Liberal England: What is it?

Reader: Don't get me wrong: I love this feature. The thought of three more parts to come fills we with an almost erotic pleasure. But couldn't we have another photograph?

Liberal England. Oh, all right them. Here is Roger Helmer of UKIP and the East Midlands hard at work in the European parliament...

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