Richard Holme

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Lord Holme of Cheltenham came to the Liberal SDP alliance via the Liberal party of which he was president in the year the SDP was launched. After Oxford and Harvard, Richard Holme became active in the Liberal party and stood for them unsuccessfully on several occasions. A director of RTZ-CRA, which now helps fund the Successor Generation project, Holme is a central figure in 'centre' politics. He has directed the Campaign for Electoral Reform; chaired the Constitutional Reform Centre; remains a director of Political Quarterly, as well as vice-chairman of the Hansard Society for Parliamentary Government and, in addition, chairs Threadneedle Publishing, a major publisher of political reference works. [1]

He has been chairman of Brassey's, the defence publishers once owned by Robert Maxwell with a US subsidiary chaired by the late Senator John Tower, (President George Bush's unsuccessful nomination for Defence Secretary). He took over the chairmanship of the consultancy firm Prima Europe from Dick Taverne, the former Labour MP turned Social Democrat. Until his election as policy adviser to the Blair government, Prima also employed Roger Liddle, the former SDP candidate who jointly authored The Blair Revolution with Peter Mandelson. [2]

Holme acted as treasurer of the Green Alliance for 11 years, during some of which time Tom Burke, an SDP activist turned adviser to Conservative governments, was director. Burke, a former adviser to David Owen, was one of a batch of younger SDP figures selected by the UK board for Successor Generation membership in its early days a decade ago. [3]

Formation of the SDP-Liberal Alliance

David Steel writes:

Throughout my 12 years as leader (and well into Paddy Ashdown's time), he was the party leader's senior unpaid adviser and confidant. He regularly came into my office early, read and digested the main newspapers before I arrived and then departed for his employment. In April 1981, with me, Shirley Williams and Bill Rodgers, he drafted on a paper napkin at lunch during the German-British conference at Konigswinter the outlines of what became the Liberal-SDP Alliance and hence later the Liberal Democrats. Other organisations benefited from his leadership and intellectual qualities - the Hansard Society and the Royal African Society among them.[1]


  1. ^ biographical details available from the Liberal Democrats website at
  2. ^ lobbywatch has an article exploring Taverne and Prima Europe further. Available at
  3. ^ a lobster magazine article by Tom Easton at gives an insight into this organisation. Article also available for free at
    1. David Steel Obituary: Lord Holme of Cheltenham: Astute businessman and senior Liberal Democrat, he was a key adviser to David Steel and Paddy Ashdown The Guardian (London) - Final Edition May 6, 2008 Tuesday SECTION: GUARDIAN OBITUARIES PAGES; Pg. 30