The Shirley Williams Lectures

About us

Shirley Williams

One of the most recognisable and iconic figures in British politics, Baroness Shirley Williams of Crosby is the figurehead of the Lecture series.


After graduating from Oxford, Shirley won a Fulbright scholarship to Columbia University in New York, later returning to the UK to work as a journalist, and then as General Secretary of the Fabian Society (1960-1964).

Her political career took off when she was elected Labour MP for the constituency of Hitchin in 1964, and quickly gaining promotion, rising to become shadow Home Secretary in 1971. When Labour returned to power in 1974, Shirley was promoted to the Cabinet, becoming Secretary of State for Education and Science in 1976.

Famously, she joined with fellow senior Labour MPs Roy Jenkins, David Owen and Bill Rodgers, to form the Social Democratic Party in 1981. In the same year following a by-election, Shirley became the country’s first SDP MP and in 1987 and joined colleagues in merging with the Liberals to form the Liberal Democrats.

In 1993, Shirley took her seat in the House of Lords as Baroness Williams of Crosby. She was leader of the Liberal Democrats in that House from 2001 to 2004 and continues to be involved with the party.

Shirley was the only British member of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND) and was advisor to PM Gordon Brown on nuclear proliferation from 2007-2010.


The Committee

The Shirley Williams Lectures is presented, in partnership with Cheadle Liberal Democrats, by a committee consisting of:

Lord Mike Storey of Childwall, Peer and former Leader of Liverpool City Council

Claire Halliwell, Chief Executive of Welsh Liberal Democrats

Tom Morrison, Parliamentary Spokesperson in Cheadle and Stockport Councillor

Colin Eldridge, Business advisor and former Parliamentary Candidate

Rachel Martin, Vice-chair of Cheadle Liberal Democrats and Property Solicitor

Lisa Whellams, Director of PR and Communications Consultancy

Mark Jones, Campaign Manager