Sunday, 16 February 2014

David Steel from rising hope to elder statesman

David Steel - Rising hope to Elder Statesman - by David Torrance iSBN 9781849541404

Cabinet Ministers reach the top, if they are lucky they hang around a bit, get resuffled and hope to do some good. Few are remembered even at the time, let alone years later.  There are exceptions, but even Prime Ministers come and go and fade from the memory.   So David Steel deserves at least recognition of having a  longer and more lasting impact on British politics than most others, without ever having 'reached the top'.

David Steel says he became a Liberal because he knew he wasn't Conservative and he wasn't Labour, so by elimination he became a Liberal. Positive commitment for Liberalism followed  as he listend to others more committed.

Several things are really striking for David Steels Liberalism

1. His willingness to work with people of other parties and none to put Liberal values into action. Notably on abortion reform, anti-aparthied campaigns, on the EU referendum in 1975, the Lib/Lab Pact of 1977-78 and in the creation of the SDP and the SDP/Liberal Alliance

2. His liberalism was rooted in people being nicer to each other. 

3. His willingness to stand up for what he believed, even if it was unpopular, e.g anti-aparthied,

David Steel will always be association with legalising abortion, the 1967 abortion Act.  Actually, abortion was already legal in some circumstances, but still 40 women a year died from illegal abortions.

Steel wanted to take the Liberals back into Government - his willingness to build links with Liberals in all parties is a skill sadly lacking in Nick Clegg.

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