Keeping the British Liberal Party flag flying high

Here is the cabinet appointed by Barbara Castle on 9 and 10 October 1983. Ministers are Labour unless stated Liberal (Lib):
Prime Minister: Barbara Castle
Lord Chancellor: Lord Samuel Silkin
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons: Rosa Bancroft
Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the Senate: Nancy Seear (Lib)
Chancellor of the Exchequer: Peter Shore
Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary: John Smith
Home Secretary: Denis Healey (Lib)
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Richard Livesey (Lib)
Defence Secretary: David Ennals (Lib)
Education and Science Secretary: David Penhaligon (Lib)
Employment Secretary: Michael Meacher
Energy Secretary: Don Concannon
Environment Secretary: Desmond Banks (Lib)
Minister of Health: Roy Hattersley
Minister of Housing and Local Government: Alfred Morris
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Gavin Strang
Minister of Overseas Development: David Steel (Lib)
Prices and Consumer Protection Secretary: Renee Short
Scotland Secretary: Bruce Millan
Social Welfare Secretary: Sarah Macleod
Minister of Posts and Telecommunications: Alan Williams
Trade and Industry Secretary: Richard Wainwright (Lib)
Transport Secretary: Michael Meadowcroft (Lib)
Wales Secretary: Barry Jones.

There were 15 Labour and 9 Liberal Ministers, and 19 men and 5 women.

Selected junior ministers appointed 10 and 11 October:
Attorney-General: Sir Edward Lyons
Solicitor-General: Sir Alex Carlile (Lib)
Paymaster-General: David Pitt
Chief Secretary to the Treasury: John Pardoe (Lib)
Economic Secretary to the Treasury: Denzil Davies
Financial Secretary to the Treasury: Bryan Gould
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Government Chief Whip): Margaret Beckett and Russell Johnston (Lib)
Minister of State Foreign Office: Wiliam Rodgers (Lib)
Minister of State Home Office: Joan Lestor
Minister of State Home Office for Northern Ireland: Oliver Napier (Progressive).
In the weekend after the general election, Tory newspapers blamed Michael Heseltine for the party's defeat, and declared that there should be new leader. At a media conference on 10 October, the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Margaret Thatcher, announced that she was challenging Heseltine for the leadership. The candidates in the leadership election must be Conservative MPs, and nominated by their colleagues. Nominations would close on 25 November, and the first ballot would be on 3 December. If no candidate won an overall majority, the last placed candidate would be eliminated, and a second ballot take place on 10 November. If no candidate received an overall majority, all except the top two would be eliminated, and a third ballot held on 15 November.

There was much speculation as to whether Heseltine would stand in the election. He had been leader less than three years, since 18 November 1980. After consulting with friends and colleagues who told him that it was unlikely that he would win the election, he decided not to stand. When nominations closed, Geoffrey Howe, John Moore, and Margaret Thatcher were on the ballot paper.

Howe was 56 years old (born 20 December 1926). He was Conservative MP for Wirral West from June 1969 to June 1974, and for Wirral from June 1974. He was the shadow Home Secretary. Moore was 45 years old, 46 on 26 November 1983. He was Conservative MP for Croydon North East since June 1974, and was the shadow Social Welfare Secretary. Thatcher was 58 years old (born 13 October 1925). She was MP for Brentford and Chiswick from June 1960 to June 1964, and for Surrey East from June 1969. The only contender with ministerial experience, having been Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government from October 1962 to June 1964,

The number of votes received by each candidate in the first round of the election were as follows:
Thatcher: 96
Howe: 63
Moore: 52
Total: 211
Moore was eliminated from the contest. The votes in the second round were as follows:
Thatcher: 137
Howe: 74.

So Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of the Conservative Party, and became Leader of the Opposition.
Comparisons were widely made between the Prime Minister, Barbara Castle, and the leader of the Conservative Party, Margaret Thatcher. Castle was the older woman by fifteen years, having been born on 6 October 1910. Thatcher was born on 13 October 1925. They were both born in provincial towns, Castle in Chesterfield, though she and her family lived there for only a few months, and Thatcher in Grantham. Their fathers were middle class. Frank Betts was an assistant surveyor of taxes, and Alfred Roberts owned a grocer's shop. Betts was a socialist and Roberts supported the Liberal Party.

Both women were educated at grammar schools. Castle at Bradford Girls Grammar School, and Thatcher at Grantham Girls High School. They both graduated from Oxford University, Castle in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and Thatcher in Chemistry. Castle was elected to St. Pancras Borough Council for the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in 1937. She joined the Socialist Labour Party, when the ILP merged with the Labour Party on 1 March 1939. Thatcher was never a local councillor.

Barbara Castle wrote in her autobiography in OTL that when Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of the Conservative Party, in February 1975 "I had no doubt that there was a tough politician beneath that demure exterior. I had no doubt that the men would not be quite sure how to deal with her." She also wrote about Thatcher that she "had an innate dislike of intellectual independence and intellectual activity for its own sake: everything had to have a commercial purpose and pay its way" (1)

(1) Quotations taken from the book All the Way by Barbara Castle. London: Macmillan, 1993.
A general election was held in Ireland on Wednesday 14 March 1984. The number of seats in Dail Eireann won by each party were as follows (October 1979 general election:
Fianna Fail: 91 (76)
Labour: 58 (69)
Fine Gael: 28 (31)
Independents: 2 (2)
(Socialist Labour:1)
Total: 179 (179)
A Fianna Fail government took office with George Colley as Taioseach.
There was a general election in Northern Ireland on Thursday 8 November 1984. The number of seats in the House of Commons won by each party was as follows (October 1980 general election):
Ulster Unionist: 27 (20)
Progressive: 15 (18)
NILP: 10 (11)
(Nationalist): 3)
Total: 52 (52)
An Ulster Unionist government came to power with William Beattie as Prime Minister. After the general election in which they lost all their seats, the Nationalist Party dissolved itself.
The candidates of the three major parties in the presidential election in the United States on 6 November 1984 were as follows:
Democratlc: President - Ronald Reagan, Vice President - Jesse Helms.
Republican: Lowell Weicker, Vice President - Philip Crane.
Social Democrat: President - Norma Jean Baker, Vice President - James Earl Carter. They were running for a second term. Baker is known as Marilyn Monroe in OTL.

The number of electoral votes for candidate were as follows (same party in 1980 election):
Baker/ Carter (Social Democrat): 273 (314)
Weicker/Crane (Republican): 159 (130)
Reagan/Helms (Democratic): 106 (94)
Total: 538 (538)
Baker and Carter were re-elected President and Vice President respectively of the United States of America.
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The states won by each ticket were as follows:
Baker/Carter: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin. Total = 20, plus District of Colombia.

Weicker/ Crane: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming. Total = 21

Reagan/Helms: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas. Total = 9.

The percentage votex for each ticket were as follows (1980 election same party):
Baker/ Carter (Social Democrat): 38.7 (40,5)
Weicker/ Crane (Republican): 37.9 (37.3)
Reagan/ Helms (Democratic): 21.3 (20.6)
Libertarian: 1.6 (1,2)
Others: 0.5 (0.4)
Total: 100.0 (100.0
The states won by each ticket were as follows:
Baker/Carter: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin. Total = 20, plus District of Colombia.

Weicker/ Crane: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming. Total = 21

Reagan/Helms: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas. Total = 9.

The percentage votex for each ticket were as follows (1980 election same party):
Baker/ Carter (Social Democrat): 38.7 (40,5)
Weicker/ Crane (Republican): 37.9 (37.3)
Reagan/ Helms (Democratic): 21.3 (20.6)
Libertarian: 1.6 (1,2)
Others: 0.5 (0.4)
Total: 100.0 (100.0
Shows just how bad the Democrats have become running Helms as VP. Clearly the party needs a new direction or it will shortly expire as an electoral force even in much of the South.
Here are the number of seats held by each party in the House of Representatives and Senate, after the elections on 6 November 1984 (after November 1980 elections):
House of Representatives:
Republican: 197 (182)
Social Democrat: 134 (154)
Democratic: 104 (99)
Total: 435 (435)
Republican: 38 (36)
Social Democrat: 33 (34)
Democratic: 29 (30)
Total: 100 (100)

Robert Michel (Illinois 18th - Republican) was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. The previous Speaker, Gerald Ford, retired from the House at the election. Bob Dole (Kansas - Republican) continued in office as Majority Leader of the Senate.
The number of seats won by each party in the general election for the Scottish Parliament in October 1982 were as follows (October 1979 election):
Conservative: 37 (35)
Labour: 36 (38)
Liberal: 27 (29)
SNP: 21 (19)
Total: 121 (121)
The Labour/ Liberal coaltion continued in office with Jimmy Reid (Labour) as First

In the general election for the Welsh Parliament in May 1983, the number of seats won by each party were as follows (May 1979 general election):
Labour : 28 (29)
Conservative: 13 (11)
Liberal: 12 (14)
Plaid Cymru: 8 (7)
Total: 61 (61)
The Labour/Liberal coalition remained in power with Caerwyn Roderick (Labour) as First Minister.
The Labour Party conference in October 1983 voted by an overwhelming majority that the future leader and deputy leader of the party would be elected by an electoral college. This would comprise one third party members, one third trade unions and other affiliated organisations, and one third Labour MPs. The leader and deputy leader had been elected by Labour MPs only.

On Tuesday 7 May 1985, Barbara Castle announced that she would resign as leader of the Labour Party when a new leader was elected. Candidates for leadership must be nominated by at least 15 percent of Labour MPs, which was 37. When nominations closed on 21 May, the MPs who received enough nominations to stand for election were:
Roy Hattersley, Minister of Health and Labour MP for Birmingham Stechford since June 1969,
Sarah Macleod, Social Welfare Secretary and Labour and Co-operative MP for
Glasgow Maryhill since June 1960,
Peter Shore, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Labour MP for West Ham South since July 1962.

Macleod was born on 17 May 1935 in a tenement in Hutchesontown in Glasgow, one of the most overcrowded wards in the city. Her father worked in a shipyard and her mother was a domestic cleaner. She was one of her eight children. When she left school at 16, she worked as a shop assistant in a leading department store in Glasgow. She was active in the Socialist Labour Party from an early age, and became a trade union official with the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers. She gained Glasgow Maryhill from the Conservatives in the June 1960 general election.

Macleod was Minister of Health from June 1969 to June 1974, Overseas Development Secretary June 1974 to November 1976 ; Employment Secretary November 1976 to June 1979; Prices and Consumer Protection Secretary June 1979 to October 1983; Social Welfare Secretary from October 1983.

She was a practising Catholic. She was unmarried, but has been living in a committed loving relationship with her partner, Margaret Rennie, a fellow Catholic and socialist, for fourteen years. She described herself as a proud working class Christian socialist feminist lesbian.

She was the youngest leadership candidate and the only one who did not go to grammar school and university. She was the most left wing candidate. Roy Hattersley was born in 1932 and educated at Sheffield City Grammar School and Hull University. Peter Shore was born in 1924 and educated at Quarry Bank High School, Liverpool, and Cambridge University.

The result of the election was announced at a special Labour Party conference in London on Saturday 20 July 1985. The percentage votes for each candidate were as follows:
Sarah Macleod: 52.4
Peter Shore: 30.5
Roy Hattersley: 17.1.
So Sarah Macleod became leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister.
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Sarah Macleod was an attractive woman, 5ft 3 in tall, medium build with shoulder length black hair and brown eyes. She gave an interview to The Tablet, the liberal Catholic weekly journal. It was published over three and a half pages in the issue dated 13 July 1985.

She said that her parents, Andrew and Eilidh, were born in 1898 and 1904 respectively. Andrew passed away five years ago, but Eilidh was living and in good health. They were born on South Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Their parents emigrated to Glasgow before the Great War to find work. Gaelic was the first language of her parents and grandparents. She was a passably good Gaeiic speaker. An ancestor of hers fought with the Jacobite army in 1745/46.

Her grandparents were active in the Glasgow rent strike in 1915, in which Mary Barbour and other women played a prominent part. [1] They and her parents were active in the Independent Labour Party [ILP] in Glasgow, campaigning for the party in local and parliamentary elections, especially in Gorbals where they lived and George Buchanan was the MP from 1918. Andrew and Eilidh met while campaigning for the ILP in the April 1928 general election. They became friends, fell in love and got married in April 1925.

"My parents had six boys and two girls. I am their younger daughter. We all lived in three rooms in a tenement in Hutchesontown, in Gorbals just south of the Clyde. [2] I'm a proud Gorbals lass. After my younger brother was born in September 1936, my Mum has told me that she told my Dad that she was not going to have any more children, but she was not going to let any celibate men tell her that she and Dad must either stop making love or they must have more children. So she used birth control. She knew many other Catholic mothers who used contraception."

[1] For Mary Barbour see

[2] For Hutchesontown see
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In her interview, Sarah Macleod said, "we moved out of our rooms in the tenement in May 1947, when we given a three bedroom second floor council flat, also in Hutchesontown. My elder sister and two eldest brothers had left home, so there were seven of us living in the flat. I was twelve years old, and shared a bedroom with my ten year old younger brother.

I joined the Socialist Labour Party and the Co-operative Party on my sixteenth birthday. I left school in July 1951. The following Monday I started work in Watt Brothers department store in Sauciehall Street. I joined USDAW the same day. I know what it's like to come home dead tired after working in a shop all day. When I was 19 years old, I left home and went to live in lodgings.

Interviewer: "Were you surprised to be elected Socialist Labour and Co-operative MP for Glasgow Maryhill in the 1960 general election?"

"We in the Socialist Labour and Co-operative Parties knew that we had a tough fight on our hands. The constituency went Labour in the 1922, 1923 and 1928 elections, but it was Tory from 1932 on. When I was elected an MP, I bought a two bedroom terrace house in Maryhill on a mortgage."

"When did you become aware that you are a lesbian?"

"I have known as long as I can remember. I had teenage crushes on girls, but Margaret Rennie was my first love. We both worked in Watts Brothers, were members of the Socialist Labour Party, and worshipped at the Catholic church of the Immaculate Conception in Maryhill. (1) Our friendship grew and blossomed into love by the time we were twenty-four years old in 1959. Ten years later we moved into my house in Maryhill."

"Are you and Margaret in a sexual relationship?"

"We are not. We have a deeply loving and affectionate relationship, and we sleep together. We believe firmly in the Catholic Church's teaching on chastity, and agreed that because we are not married, we would not have a sexual relationship. Though we kiss and cuddle. Margaret works for the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund in their head office in Glasgow. They know that we live together and fully support her."

Interviewer: "If you are elected Labour leader and become prime minister, will your government introduce legislation to allow gay men and lesbians to marry?"

Sarah: "I believe wholeheartedly in equal marriage for lesbians and gay men. That is Labour Party policy. But government legislation is a matter for the cabinet. However I am confident that such legislation will be introduced into the House of Commons in the next session of Parliament."

(1) For this church see
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Continuation of Sarah Macleod's interview with The Tablet :
Interviewer: 'You oppose the Termination of Pregnancy Act 1966, What would be the policy of your government on abortion, if you become prime minister?'

Sarah: 'I believe that abortion is always wrong because it is the taking of human life. But in a few limited circumstances it is the lesser of two evils. If I become prime minister, my government would never introduce legislation to make abortion more permissive or more restrictive. However I would vote in favour of a Private Member's Bill which restricted abortion.'

Interviewer: 'You have been accused of being a pacifist. Are you?'

Sarah: 'I am not. I believe that war is intrinsically wrong and hope for a world without war. However I believe in the Catholic teaching on Just War. That war is right only under certain defined conditions.'

Interviewer: 'Some traditionalist Catholics have accused you of not being a true Catholic. How would you answer them?'

Sarah: 'I believe strongly that women should be eligible to be ordained to the priesthood, for the end of compulsory clerical celibacy, and for same sex marriage. However that does not make me any less Catholic than my critics. As to my living with Margaret Rennie, our love is, and always has been, chaste in accordance with Catholic teaching. '

Interviewer: 'Your critics have also attacked you for your support for Liberation Theology, which they condemn as Marxist with a Catholic veneer'

Sarah: I disagree with them. Liberation Theology is fully accordance with Catholic belief and theology, and the radical message of the Gospel. I have read A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutierrez. [1] I found it very inspiring. It expresses my deeply held convictions on what it means to be a Catholic and a Christian. It was my great privilege to meet Gutierrez in Lima in May 1976, when I was International Development Secretary'

Interviewer: 'You have described yourself as a proud Scot, but oppose Scottish independence. Why is that?'

Sarah: 'I believe that Scotland is better off as part of the United Kingdom than as an independent nation. The last Labour government gave more to Scotland in the areas of social welfare and taxation. The Scottish people do not want an independent Scotland, a shown by the mediocre performance of the Scottish National Party in Westminster and Scottish Parliament elections.'

[1] in this TL and OTL, first published in Spanish in Lima in 1971. First English-language translation was published in New York State in 1973 .
Continuation of Sarah Macleod's interview.

Interviewer: Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno asserted that "no one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true Socialist." (1) How do you reconcile being a Catholic and a Socialist?'

Sarah: 'Pope Pius meant atheistic Marxist Communism, not democratic socialism. My democratic socialist values are fully in accordance with Catholic Social Teaching with its principles of Solidarity and Subsidiarity.'

Interviewer: 'Only 82 out of 243 Labour MPs nominated you for the leadership election, second to Peter Shore, though a majority of Scottish Labour MPs did. If you are elected Labour leader, could you work with those Labour MPs who did not nominate you ?'

Sarah: 'I am confident that I can and I will.'

Interviewer: 'How do you see you the future of the Labour Party?'

Sarah: 'I would very much like to see a Labour government with an overall majority. But we have a three party system in this country, which makes it difficult for any party to win a majority. If I become prime minister, I will continue to work constructively with the Liberal Party in the coalition government. The Labour Party must always be a working class party, rooted in working class communities, Not a party of middle class intellectuals.

Interviewer: 'Thank you for this interview, Miss Macleod. I am sure our readers will find it most interesting and informative,'

Sarah: ' It has been a pleasure to have the opportunity to tell your readers about my beliefs and values. As we say in Gaelic tapadh leibh, thank you. '

(1) Quotation taken from Catholic Social Teaching: A Way In by Stratford Caldecott, London: Catholic Truth Society, third edition, 2007.
Sarah Macleod stayed and helped out at the Catholic Worker St. Joseph's House of Hospitality in New York City, for two weeks in August 1960. There she met Dorothy Day and Julia Porcelli, who was Secretary for Health and Welfare from January 1981. Then she stayed for a week's retreat at the Catholic Worker Maryfarm commune in Easton, Pennsylvania. She subscribed to the Catholic Worker newspaper. She gave away that part of her salary as an MP and cabinet minister, above the average national wage, to charities she supported and the Labour and Co-operative parties.

An open letter signed by two hundred and fifty clerical and lay Catholics was published in broadsheet newspapers in support of her candidacy for Labour leader. It urged Labour Party members to vote for her. Among the signatories were Thomas Cullinan, Auxiliary Archbishop of Liverpool; Rosemary Haughton, theologian and writer; Gerard W. Hughes, Cardinal Archbishop of Glasgow; Bruce Kent, Auxiliary Archbishop of Westminster; Herbert McCabe, Dominican theologian and writer; Timothy Radcliffe, Dominican priest and academic at Blackfriars College, Oxford. Anti abortion/pro life campaign groups backed her as the best candidate from their point of view.

Extracts from Sarah's interview with The Tablet were published in daily and Sunday newspapers. Reactions varied across the political spectrum. Labour supporting papers were generally favourable. Others were neutral or hostile. The Daily Mirror and the Scottish Record endorsed her. Of the three Labour leadership candidates, Tory newspapers were the most hostile to her, because she was the most left wing.

On 20 July 1985, after becoming Prime Minister. .she made the following changes to her cabinet:
Renee Short from Prices and Consumer Protection Secretary to Social Welfare Secretary,
Roy Hattersley from Minister of Health to Prices and Consumer Protection Secretary,
Joan Lestor promoted from Minister of State Home Office to Minister of Health.

Among the junior ministerial appointments she made on 22 July were Gordon Brown as Under-Secretary of State Department of Trade and Industry, and Peter Tatchell as Under-Secretary of State Home Office.
After Parliament had risen for the summer recess, Sarah Macleod and Margaret Rennie went on a walking holiday in Scotland from 5 August to 17 August 1985. They started in the village of Balloch, walked along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, then down the western shore and across to Loch Long. [1] Part of their journey was on the Loch Lomond Way. Then down the western shore of Loch Long and ending in the seaside resort of Dunoon. [2] They stayed in guest houses, where they slept in double beds. Sarah asked the guest house owners not to give them any special treatment. Her holiday was a nightmare for the security services. She told them to keep their distance from her and Margaret.

Everyone they met was friendly, or at least polite, except for some homophobic abuse. People were delighted to be photographed with the prime minister, and to get her autograph.

[1] See,_West_Dunbartonshire, and

[2] See
The Civil Partnership Bill became law in May 1986. It allowed same-sex couples in the UK to enter civil partnerships with the same rights and responsibilities as civil marriage. It also allowed civil partnership ceremonies in religuous buildings, if the relevant religious organisations wanted them.

The Labour government decided to introduce legislation on civil partnership rather than same-sex marriage, because they wanted the maximum possible votes for the bill in the House of Commons and the Senate. A majority of MPs and Senators of all parties, except the Ulster Unionists, voted in favour of the bill in free votes.
Sarah Macleod and Margaret Rennie entered into a civil partnership in Glasgow Registry Office on Saturday 27 September 1986. Afterwards their partnership was blessed in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Maryhill, Glasgow, by the parish priest. He had the permission of the Cardinal Archbishop of Glasgow, Gerard W. Hughes. The media were out in force outside the registry office and the church.

Sarah and Margaret stayed for three nights in a guest house in the seaside town of Brodick, on the east coast of the Isle of Arran. (1). They made love for the first time in their relationship. They believed firmly that their love making was not sinful, because they were as good as married.

Sarah was asked how she reconciled her civil partnership with Margaret with the teaching of the Catholic Church. She replied that the Church is not only the hierarchy, but mostly the laity who make up 99 percent of its members. She said that she had received thousands of letters from Catholics who wished her well in her partnerahip with Margaret, and hoped that the Church will bless the loving committed partnership of two persons of the same sex.

(1) For Brodick see