Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Tributes to Shirley Williams

 Ian Sherwood, former mayor of Briton Ferry, writes:

So very sad to hear of the passing of Shirley Williams. She was one of my earliest politics heroes heroine s for so many different reasons. She was one of the reasons i knew that the SDP. Liberals Alliance, Lib Dem’s was the right place and political home for me. In these days of political populism and extremism on both the right and left of politics. It seemed to me that she stood for decency tolerance and sensible pro Europeanism centerist politics. Her experience as a junior minister in the 1960 s and then as a cabinet member in the 1970 s made her a very experienced politician. Also as one of the few Senior women politicians of that time. I am sure she was a political inspiration to many women and many men as well. If you listen to many of her many 1970 s speeches on programmes like Afternoon plus still available on you tube they are very Down to earth and straight forward. She never pretended problems were easy to solve. I heard her make speeches on so many occasions and they were always interesting and inspirational. Her decision along with the other 3 to Join the SDP changed politics of the early 1980s and beyond. After i had been in the leaders office for a few years and having seen Shirley on many occasions but never having had the chance to chat to her. I had been to an event in Chatham house on International relations and Shirley and i were walking in the same direction at the end of the evening. She recognised me and chatted to me about how i was finding working in the leaders office and the state of politics at that time. It was an occasion. i remember as frankly i was a bit star struck and a bit tongue tied. Yet she was so ordinary and engaging and interested in a lowly Lib Dem staffer such as myself. I am genuinely said tonight, at this time of such awfulness in politics and life generally we desperately need more Shirley s .

Jean Bellingham, a former secretary of the local party:

She was the main reason I was a founder member of the SDP and eventually the Lib Democrats. Would that we still had the same support, purpose and commitment as there was then

John Wellington adds:

We went to a garden party in a stately home back in the mid 80s with a bus run from the Forge Tavern in Port Talbot. Arthur Colborn the landlord was a member of the SDP and I believe it was in our Alliance days. She was very engaging and most welcoming as a lot on the trip were die hard labour supporters but we had to fill the bus. A great day

Frank Little, retiring secretary:

I was never particularly tribal in my politics and, although my personal convictions led me to join the Liberal Party, there were figures in the other parties whom I admired and respected. Among them was Shirley Williams, who also exuded humanity and common sense, so it was a happy day for me when the Lib Dems were formed with Shirley Williams playing a prominent part. It may have been Labour's ultra-socialist and anti-EU stance under Michael Foot which drove her to change parties, but she clearly felt at home with her new fellow members - and probably helped to create the ethos of the new party.

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