Monday 31 March 2008

The Bonham Carter's of Torrington and Queen's Park...

Celebration reception Wednesday 2nd April, 7.30pm, National Liberal Club

The Torrington by-election in March 1958 was the first gain by the Liberal party in Britain at a by-election since 1929. The election of Mark Bonham Carter provided a major boost to Liberal fortunes at the time.

For the Liberal Party it was a short lived victory - Mark was defeated eighteen months later in the 1959 general election and didn't re-take the seat in 1964, but Torrington proved to be the first Liberal success in the long revival that continued in the 1962 Orpington by-election.

Mark went on to be the first Chairman of the Race Relations Board, Director of the Royal Opera House, Vice Chairman of the BBC and in 1986 was made a life peer serving as Foreign Affairs spokesman in the Lords. He passed away in September 1994.

My own contact with Mark was at Party Conference (1990?) when I was a volutneer steward and was asked to help Mark with a round of media interviews essentially acting as a bag carrier. The result was that I had an amazing time and effectively trailed round with Mark for a week accessing receptions and fringe meetings. His kindness and warmth to me was very special and I remain grateful to him.

Coming full circle, one of Mark's daughters Virginia now lives in Hampstead and Kilburn (Queen's Park) and has been immensely supportive of our campaign locally and that was how the idea for this commemoration came about.

Members of Mark's family - including his widow Leslie - will be joining us on Wednesday 2nd April in the David Lloyd George Road at the National Liberal Club, London. The meeting is open to all those interested in Liberal history, the Torrington by-election and the fortunes of us winning another parliamentary seat in Hampstead and Kilburn.

There will be a collection and the evening will commence at 7pm for 7.30pm.

More information is helpful or to confirm attendance email me on or ring 020 7625 6300

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