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Shirley Williams says there’s a place in the party for me.

By Angela Harbutt
December 11th, 2009 at 6:46 pm | 14 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

shirley_williamsI have only met Shirley Williams once, whilst working for Sir Ming Campbell, but I have always deeply admired her. So when I heard her on the radio today talking about her new book “Climbing the bookshelves” on the Simon Mayo show on Radio Five Live I had a thought. There has been much agnst in recent times about “the left” vs the “right” within the party. So why not ask her whether there is a place in this party that I love for free market liberals. (I used the term “free market liberal” because it was radio five and I thought it a more straight forward term than “classical liberal”).

Low and behold five minutes later – there was my question being broadcast across the airwaves. 

And the answer to my question, from Shirley Williams no less, was YES!. The requirement for being a Liberal Democrat is being totally committed to civil liberties and internationally minded; views on the market differ. She did go on to say that given recent events I should rethink my views on the free market – but as far as she is concerned I belong.

Well, I definately tick both boxes on civil liberties andn being internationally minded – so as far as she is concerned I am good to go. Yippee.

You may wonder why I asked the question. Well, I have to confess there are some days when I do doubt whether I fit – these are few however and come largely after aggressive or unpleasant comments from a vocal minority. There are also days when I will shout at the radio, tv or newspaper because of the timidity of our leadership, the confusion over some policy launch, and yes some policy announcement I disagree with. But I doubt I will ever find a party that I agree with entirely on policy or strategy until I start the Angela Harbutt Party (don’t worry – no plans on that score!).

No… the reason I asked the question was because I was pretty sure she would say “yes Angela” there is a place for you. And she did just that. I think it is so easy to focus on the small thinks that divide us and lose sight of the much bigger things that unite us.  Today I feel united.

I will upload the interview, if I can, later this evening. If you can’t wait you can hear the whole of Simon Mayo show here (catch Mark Kermode reviews, interview with Harry Rednap etc …superb programme as ever). The Shirley Williams interview is about 1 hour into the programme.

UPDATE: Ok.. it was a long and wide ranging interview on Radio Five and I struggled – and then gave up – trying to edit it to just ten minutes for YOUTUBE purposes. So I have put up here only Shirley’s answer to my question. I do urge you to listen to the full interview (see above for link to BBC iplayer). If you read post this late or really need the interview sometime in the future when it falls off iplayer, I have captured the full interview so we have it stored and can email it to anyone that asks us for it.

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