Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Why I love Shirley Williams

Reasons too numerous for one blog posting, but specifically today because I've watched her being interviewed on the '79 election programme.

Can you just imagine what would happen to any interviewer today who said to Hazel Blears, or Harriet Harman that they were looking "very pretty" before they started the interview as Robin Day did to Shirley? It was really appalling, but she took it all in good spirit and very graciously thanked him for the compliment.

She was interviewed twice - once before the votes had even been verified so she didn't really know she'd lost, and once after her result had come through. She came across really well on both occasions, magnanimous in defeat to her Conservative opponent and speaking very warmly about her own team. She was also very politically astute about the reasons for her own defeat and very circumspect about the whole thing.

She got a few wee digs in, notably about the election of Mrs Thatcher not necessarily being a great development for women, but did so in a very engaging way and no doubt on very little sleep.

The interesting thing was that Norman St John Stevas, a Tory, being interviewed in the London studio, was full of praise for Shirley, saying she was one of the most honest and decent people in politics.

It was fascinating to see this 30 year old footage of Shirley. I wonder what would have happened if she had won her seat. She may well have joined the SDP, because she alone would probably not have been able to stem the Trot tide, but then would the Alliance have won Crosby without her? How important was Crosby in shaping the Alliance's fortunes? But then if she'd been defeated in 1983, might she have been the winning candidate in Chesterfield in 1984 for the Alliance? It's an interesting thought.

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