A little bit of history

The bust of William Gladstone in the Victorian Library in Debenhams.

A bust of William
Ewart Gladstone which
is still in the Victorian
Library in Debenham's
on Princes Street
in Edinburgh.

The Scottish Liberal Club was inaugurated in 1879, the year before William Gladstone became MP for Midlothian and formed the second of his four Liberal Governments.

Rapidly acquiring premises at 109 Princes Street, the club was a centre for political and social activity in the decades of Liberal predominance in Scotland and during the challenging years of decline from power.

By the 1970s clubs with bedroom and dining facilities faced difficulties across the country. The SLC sought to widen its appeal, opening membership to women, but like its Conservative neighbour it had to abandon Princes Street to Debenhams retail.

Premises were acquired in Clifton Terrace, shared with the Scottish Liberal Party, and later the Liberal Democrats, as tenants.  The clubroom is used for meetings but the club exists mainly as a forum for Liberal discussion, debate and, hopefully, enlightenment – all in the friendly ambience that a club should offer.

Note: For those who would like to know more about the history of the Liberal Club, there is a downloadable pdf of a dissertation done by Noah Torn. Click here to download the pdf.

A Tribute to Charles Kennedy

Members of the Scottish Liberal Club and many more from all walks of life will have been shocked and saddened by the news today of the death of Charles Kennedy.

Charles was respected and well liked by many inside and outside the world of politics. He combined an understanding of complex issues with a down to earth manner of communication to the man and woman in the street. He was equally able to express his thoughts passionately in the House of Commons as he was in smaller gatherings, with friends.

I first met Charles in Ullapool over 30 years ago, when he was a newly elected MP and I was a party volunteer worker. Many years later, it was an honour to stand beside him in the House of Commons as a Liberal Democrat MP when we stood united in our opposition to the War in Iraq.

For many, this was Charles at his best, leading the party on a point of principle and later on to the the best election results the Liberal Democrats have known in recent years. He was an inspirational leader and one many of us were proud to stand beside.

His life ended much too soon and he will always be fondly remembered by all who were lucky enough to have known him and by the many others, who might never have met him, but thought of him as a friend and a man who had earned their respect, sometimes despite opposing their political views.

Today, many tributes have been paid to him and they have all shown the high regard he was held in by people from every party and from many other walks of life.

On this sad day, on behalf of The Scottish Liberal Club, I would like to pass on our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.

John Barrett

President, Scottish Liberal Club.