Thursday, April 16, 2009

Clement Freud's vital 12.5%

I don't think I could honestly include the word "Liberal" in the title of this blog if I didn't mark the passing of Clement Freud, once described as "one of nature's liberals". Liberal Democrat Voice carries a tribute to him. I would just like to add my own personal dimension to the tributes, from the point of view of a Liberal party supporter from 1970ish onwards.

It's very important to remember that there were just six Liberal MPs elected in 1970 at the general election. Count them. Six. Pardoe, Thorpe, Johnston, Hooson, Grimond, Steel. They were joined in October '72 by Cyril Smith and in December '72 by Graham Tope, meaning that Clement Freud and his colleague David Austick brought the numbers up to ten when they were elected on 26th July '73. So, Freud increased the size of the parliamentary Liberal party by 12.5% by taking his seat. I have posted a specimen-sized photo above (from here) from 4th August 1973 showing the whole (Commons) parliamentary Liberal party. It was quite an event that the Liberal MPs could no longer fit in the back of a taxi. For some reason Jeremy Thorpe chose to inspect his shoes at the moment the photo was taken. (Either that or he wanted to display his full head of hair.)

So, we should not underestimate the very large impact that Clement Freud had in helping, with his colleagues, to stop the complete elimination of the Liberal Party in the UK. In many ways, 1970 marked a turning point in that after that it was all "up" for the party! The fact that Clement Freud was a natural liberal and a genuine all-round good egg was a considerable bonus. We should be very grateful to him.

By the way, I would just mention one thing that probably won't get mentioned much in all the tributes. Clement Freud is on the cover of Paul McCartney and Wings' album "Band on the run" (below). Thought I'd just mention that.

We've lost a genuinely larger than life character who puts most of us to shame with the amount that he packed into his life.

I feel that Lord Bonkers and his fellow parishioners should consider erecting at least a small plaque in memory of the great man at St Asquith's.

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