‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Anniversary of Birth of Liberal leader in Darkest Years

Today is the 130th anniversary of the birth of forgotten Liberal leader, Clement Davies who led the party through its darkest years from 1945 to 1956.

Clem Davies had a rather turbulent life. Three of his four children died at the age of 24, all in unrelated incidents. He struggled with alcoholism. During his leadership, the Liberal Party fell to its lowest general election total of seats - just six.

However, Davies did hold the part together and there were early signs of revival before he left the leadership, in terms of party membership growth and by-election performance. His successor, Jo Grimond was able to build on these.

In addition to his political roles, Clem Davies was a highly successful lawyer and managing director of Unilever. He also played a significant role in Churchill's accession to the premiership in 1940.

All in all, not a very happy life, but by no means a politically inconsequential one. You can read more about him in my biography Clement Davies - Liberal leader.

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