PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review Blog
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Vahni Capildeo The Boisterous Weeping of Margery Kempe Paul Muldoon The Fly Sinead Morrissey Put Off That Mask Jane Yeh Three Poems Sarah Rothenberg Poetry and Music: Exile and Return

This report is taken from PN Review 194, Volume 36 Number 6, July - August 2010.

The Liberal Moment Neil Powell

It began, just too soon for me, with the Liberals winning the Orpington by-election in 1962. Their candidate was a fish-faced fellow called Eric Lubbock, who looked and sounded as foolish as his name. Private Eye transformed him into Eric Buttock, a semi-literate schoolboy whose letters home from Westminster became a regular feature of the magazine. Meanwhile, on That Was the Week that Was, the cartoonist Timothy Birdsall produced a map of the world which before our eyes gradually metamorphosed into Greater Orpington: ‘What’s the staple food of China? That’s right, rice. R-I-C-E. So all we have to do is to take the last letter and put it at the front and...’ I was fourteen and, although I could see the silly side of Eric Lubbock, I liked the idea that the Liberal moment had come. The times they were a’changing, the answer was blowin’ in the wind: anything was possible.

The first General Election at which I had a vote was that of 1970: the one Edward Heath so surprisingly snatched from Harold Wilson in the final days. I voted Liberal. A year or two later I joined the party and in 1974 worked for a local candidate under the excellent leadership of Jeremy Thorpe: he was highly civilised, intelligent and articulate, a delight to hear as debater or raconteur; and the bizarre way in which his political career ended doesn’t alter any of that. When, after the inconclusive General Election of February 1974, Heath and ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image