Sir Cyril Smith dies

The former Lib Dem MP for Rochdale passed away this morning aged 82.

The former Rochdale MP Sir Cyril Smith died this morning.

Smith, 82, spent 20 years in parliament, serving between 1972 and 1992. He rose to Liberal chief whip under Jeremy Thorpe, but rejected frequent calls for him to run for party leader.

Born in Rochdale, he rose through the ranks in his home town, becoming a councillor in 1952 and then winning the 1972 by-election in a landslide to become MP.

His extrovert personality, coupled with his sheer size -- at one point he tipped the scales at a reported 29 stone -- meant that he was a well-known figure in Westminster. Frequent television appearances also made him familiar to Britain at large.

Smith was a vocal critic of what he saw as the political establishment, at one point referring to parliament as "the longest-running farce in the West End".

His tenure as an MP was not without controversy. In 1981, he argued vigorously against further regulation of asbestos use, at one point delivering a speech that had been largely written for him by the asbestos producer T&N. A year later, he declared 1,300 shares in the company.

Smith was awarded an MBE in 1966 and was knighted in 1988. He never married. When asked why, he replied: "I haven't had a lot of time for courting women . . . I've tended to be married to politics."

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs


The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.


For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming


With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.


On the Middle East:


To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 


We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”


In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.


America will start winning again, winning like never before.


On trade


This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  


We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland