Tributes pour in for Sir Cyril Smith

by Stephen Tall on September 4, 2010

Lib Dem Voice reported yesterday the sad passing of Sir Cyril Smith, one of the party’s best-known figures, who served as Rochdale’s MP for two decades.

Tributes have been pouring in as a mark of appreciation for Cyril’s life. Nick Clegg issued the following statement:

“Cyril Smith was a larger-than-life character and one of the most recognisable and likeable politicians of his day. I am deeply saddened to hear the news of his death today, and offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends.

“Everybody in Rochdale knew him not only as their MP but also as a friend. He was a true Liberal, dedicated to his constituency, always showing great passion and determination. Cyril was a colourful politician who kept the flame of Liberalism alive when the party was much smaller than it is today.

“Rochdale and Britain have sadly lost one of their great MPs, and I think we can safely say there will never be an MP quite like Cyril Smith again.”

Menawhile here on LDV, former Lib Dem chief executive Lord (Chris) Rennard posted a tribute:

When the Rochdale by-election occurred in September 1972, the Liberal Party had only six MPs (three in Scotland, one in Wales, one in Cornwall and one in Devon). When Cyril Smith won it, he became the only Liberal MP in England apart from John Pardoe in N Cornwall and Jeremy Thorpe in N Devon.

Cyril’s victory in the by-election began the the Liberal Party revival of the early 70s. His agent John Spiller was one of my many mentors in the party. John made sure that Cyril wrote a personal note to everyone that he knew in the constituency inviting them to his adoption meeting and inviting them to be an official signatory on his nomination paper – more than 5,000 people signed them. …

Cyril’s contribution to the survival and recovery of the party in this very difficult period following the debacle of the 1970 General Election was therefore immense.

And Lib Dem MP Tim Farron also posted his appreciation:

Cyril never forgot his roots and spent most of his life in the same terraced house in Rochdale – I remember interviewing him in his front room about 15 years ago, he was an incredibly warm and fascinating guy. When the Liberals merged with the SDP in 1988 and we were on our lowest ever poll ratings, he brought the house down at a party meeting that I was at as a teenager when he said “well, you can’t blame the public can you? I mean even I wouldn’t vote for us at the moment!”

The party has lost a true great and I like thousands of others mourn his passing and my thoughts and prayers are with his family today.

Here’s what Lib Dem bloggers have been saying:

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