LIBERAL WEEKEND SCHOOL TURNS INTO THE LLOYD GEORGE SOCIETY - By Dr. Russell Deacon, Centre for Humanities, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
In August 1985, in the spirit of co-operation that had come across both the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Liberals, the Liberal Weekend School ended. In its place it was decided to create the Lloyd George Society. The society was named after the most prominent Welsh Liberal of all time and was felt to be more widely accepted as a named group then the Liberal Summer School. Its main founder was Winston Roddick and the new society would be much more of an open forum than the Summer School had been. Roger Pincham (Chairman and founder of the Gladstone Club) became the President. Lord Hooson, Tom Ellis, Judi Lewis, Sir Maldwyn Thomas and Martin Thomas also were strongly involved. The Society also had the endorsement of Lloyd George's surviving daughters Lady Olwen and Jennifer Longford.
On the 19th October 1985, the Lloyd George Society was launched in Criccieth. A ceremony was held by his graveyard in Llanystumdwy. Former Labour MP and then SDP member Gwynoro Jones recounted:
'Without doubt the most moving experience in politics I have ever encountered. A peaceful, tranquil afternoon at the graveside of an international statesman… I'll never forget Lady Olwen's answer to a question from a reporter as to what advice would her father have given to the two Davids' - she said he would probably would have told them 'just to get on with it'.
The Lloyd George Society met in the same place as the Summer Schools had been held, the Abernant Lakeside Hotel in Llanwyrtd Wells. The first Lloyd George Society lecture given by Roy Jenkins at the Alliance Conference on 16th November 1985 attracted 150 people. Although that would mark a peak for the Society it would always be well attended from now on. In 1991, Bill Barritt (a chartered accountant in the Vale of Glamorgan who stood as the Liberal candidate in Barry in the 1979 general election) became the Chair and was the inspiration, together with Roger Pincham for much of the Society from now on. Over the coming years the Society would attract as speakers some of the most prominent people from both the Liberal party and SDP as well as those in the public world from General Sir Anthony Farrar Hockley (1991) to Will Hutton (1993) and K.O. Morgan (2003). Widely supported by people from England, the Lloyd George Society became the longest running and most successful open weekend school connected with the Liberal Party in its post war history.
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