Jeremy Thorpe – ‘one of the bravest men in British politics’


On Monday night, the National Liberal Club was the august venue for the AGM of the Liberal Democrat History Group, followed by a talk by Ronald Porter entitled “Jeremy is innocent”.

The full title of the talk, which was presented personal views from Ronald Porter (who is an obituarist and food/wine writer for the Independent and other outlets) was:

The life and times of Jeremy (1929-2014) and Marion Thorpe (1926-2014) by Ronald Porter with some splendid help from Duncan Brack.

Michael Steed chaired the talk and Duncan Brack helped provide photographs for it.

All in all, it was a lovely evening, held in the Lady Violet room, with a very interesting talk, some fascinating photos and attractive music. This was my first visit to the National Liberal Club. I was blown away by the grand surroundings. It was all very “Lord Bonkers-ish” – I looked around in vain for the stained glass window commemorating the Bonham-Carter victory in the 1958 Torrington by-election.

So did the talk tell us anything we didn’t know? Well, I have to say that Ronald Porter presented a vast array of facts and anecdotes about Jeremy and Marion Thorpe. It was a very well rounded and interesting talk. It particularly gave me a much better awareness of Marion Thorpe – with her highly distinguished musical background and her first Royal marriage. This part of the talk certainly gave me new information. Who knew, for example, that Queen Mary had to eventually consent to the then Marion Stein’s first marriage, followed by assent from King George VI?

Mr Porter told us about the judge at Jeremy Thorpe’s trial, who was critical of witnesses for the prosecution. He mentioned that Peter Cook lampooned the judge by saying, assuming the person of Justice Cantley:

You are now to retire, as indeed should I, to carefully to consider your verdict of “Not Guilty”

Ronald Porter gave a very appreciative portrait of Jeremy Thorpe, outlining his many attributes and his championship of many causes. He ended by observing that his research for the talk had led him to conclude that Jeremy Thorpe was:

….one of the bravest men in British politics.

After the talk, there was a question and answer session which involved recollections from several people with deep knowledge of Jeremy Thorpe, who were his friends and colleagues.

You can find out more about the Liberal Democrat History Group here.

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