The Returning Officer: Clubs III

The Liberal yearbook for 1909 records that many MPs of that party were members of the Eighty Club. This was not a traditional London club – it was founded shortly before the 1880 election for “promoting Liberal education and stimulating Liberal organisation”.

Its president in 1909 was Robert Reid, the first earl Loreburn, who had been MP for Hereford (1880-85) and Dumfries Burghs (1886-1905). Election to the club was by ballot only and the annual fee was a guinea. In 1887, its unity was shattered by the Home Rule question and Liberal Unionists resigned in a body. The club was wound up in 1978.

The Ninety-Five Club was formed after the defeat of 1895 to encourage “the younger men of the party” and was the first to propose “one member, one vote” for the Liberal leadership.

This article first appeared in the 04 December 2013 issue of the New Statesman, Burnout Britain