Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Goodbye No.4 Cowley St - Will the last person to leave please turn out the lights.

I suppose it was on the cards.

As revealed on Liberal Democrat Voice here on Saturday, the Liberal Democrats are in the middle of confirming a move from its only home since meger in 1988, to a new HQ in the heart of Westminster, this summer.

With the loss of the opposition cushioned 'short money' and with the badly handled news of a change in the campaigns structure of the party in recent weeks, it is not particularly surprising to hear that there will be a change to a new office - one which it must be said, looks set to be in a more modern setting than the one which was laid out over 5 floors in the old HQ.

A New History
But we are looking at a significant change in the history of the Liberal Democrats.

No.4 Cowley St - Liberal Democrat HQ since 1988
The party have been based at No.4 Cowley St since the merger of the old Liberal Party and the SDP in 1988. It was the base of the old SDP who leased the building in the early 1980s whilst the Liberal Party was based in the Natonal Liberal Club.

Now, after some 25+ years as the HQ for either the SDP or the Liberal Democrats, the lights are to be switched off for a final time.

I can only recall visiting Cowley St on one occasion. It was probably sometime around 2004-2006 and it was for a campaigns training course in the Board Room on the first floor (if my memory serves me correctly). It struck me as being a great big town house and yet I was still ever-so-slightly in awe of being there, knowing of the part in liberal and British political history that it represented.

But history can not hold us back. The Conservatives moved from their historic Smith Square HQ in 2004 having been there since 1958. After 3 years in Victoria St, they moved to No.30 Millbank in 2007.

We need a modern HQ and a move to Great George St, within a stones throw of Westminster and opposite the Treasury, will ensure that the party remains at the centre of Westminster political life.

'Bloody Cowley St'  'Bloody George St'
It seems now then that for years to come, the old membership gripes at the on-goings and doings at 'Cowley St' is to be replaced no doubt with the same old complaints at 'George St'.

My best wishes to everyone as they make this historic move.


  1. Cowley St was on 4 floors Mark (basement at the bottom, Campaigns on the 3rd floor)

  2. Perhaps the loss of funding is as much to do with a lot of people like me who have withdrawn their support. We were told the lib dems were a liberal democratic party but it has been taken over by a few liberal conservatives who are running things against the wishes of a lot of the membership (well former membership would be more accurate I suppose). No wonder the funds are down. I suppose in a years time you can al pat yourselves on the backs and say you all agree with each other - but that will be because all of us with a social view will have left and you really will be just a a little annex of the bigger C party. Good luck