Albeit rather late, I am enjoying Annette Penhaligon’s very faithful biography of David Penhaligon.
I have been struck by the similarities between Yeovil and Truro in terms of how each seat was won for the Liberal party. Not least, both David Penhaligon (a chartered engineer) and Paddy Ashdown (presumably an expert in stripping down a rifle) spent hundreds of hours nursing their respective ancient and ailing constituency printers.
David Penhaligon is one my heroes. You can’t be a Cornishman and not have a soft spot for the man. He had the passion, humour, grace and humility which all us Cornish like to think typify the best of our county. He was the reason I joined the Liberal Party, although sadly it was his death which moved me to send a cheque to David Steel applying to join up.
This passage from Penhaligon intrigued and amused me. It comes in the campaign run-up to David Penhaligon’s first shot at the Truro constituency, where the Liberals were third in the previous election. David and Annette Penhaligon were living at the sub-post office in Chacewater, Cornwall.
One bizarre memory of that election remains for me. It was about a week before polling day and we had returned from an evening of canvassing that had brought home to us for the first time just what all out work had achieved. Voter after voter had told us that we had their votes. In a panic I woke David up that night. What if we did win? Would he get paid? Neither of us knew. David struggled out of bed and found the Whitaker’s Almanack. Yes, he would get paid – about the same as he got at Holman’s. We could afford to win.
Quite charming. But it highlights liberals or Liberals or Liberal Democrats at their best. As David Rendel, another of my heroes, has said:
No one joins the Liberal Democrats as a career move.