One of the things I really do miss about the privileged existence I gave up, is the National Liberal Club. Seated with a book in a deep leather armchair by a roaring fire on a cold day, you could watch the shades of Gladstone, Lloyd George and the young Churchill stroll by.
In the Gent’s there is a cartoon of Tory wit FE Smith. The caption informs us that he would saunter, after a good few drinks, from his law practice at the Middle Temple to the Commons, often stopping at the National Liberal Club to use the lavatory. Some members complained, and one day he was stopped in the foyer by the porter:
“Excuse me sir, you do realise this is a private members’ club?”
Smith looked around him and sniffed:
“A club? I didn’t realise it was a club as well!”
Anyway, I really miss the place. I was a member for well over twenty years but I can no longer afford the fees. But why I recall the NLC now, is that it was specifically built following the Reform Acts of 1867 and 1884, to provide accommodation for working class Liberal MPs who could not afford a second home in London.
Sadly the bedrooms were sold off a few years back to the Royal Horseguards hotel, but surely this is the way to go? Out of London MPs should be provided with the use of a small flat in a dedicated block at public expense. That, their salary and travel to their constituency should be all they are given. I can see no evidence to suggest that the quite excessive office and staff budgets they have nowadays, have done anything to increase the quality of government.