William John Lawrence Wallace

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William John Lawrence Wallace, Lord Wallace of Saltaire (born in Leicester, 12 March 1941) is a British academic, writer, and politician.


Wallace was educated at Westminster Abbey Choir School and St Edward's School, Oxford. He went to King's College, Cambridge in 1959, reading History (BA). As an undergraduate at Cambridge, Wallace joined all three political clubs (Conservative, Labour, and Liberal). He decided that the Liberal Party was the most attractive and, in 1961, he was elected Vice-President of the Cambridge University Liberal Club, later becoming its President.


After graduating from Cambridge Wallace travelled to the United States, where he spent three years working towards his PhD at Cornell University. He finished his doctoral thesis, on the Liberal Revival of 1955-66, at Oxford, although the PhD was awarded by Cornell. During this time in Oxford he met his future wife, Helen Sarah Rushworth, who was President of the Oxford University Liberal Club. They were married on 25 August 1968 and have two children, Harriet (born 1977) and Edward (born 1981), both of whom were, like their father, educated at Cambridge.

Political Career

In the United Kingdom general election, 1966, Wallace served as the Liberal Party's Assistant Press Officer, responsible for Jo Grimond's press activities. During the academic year 1966-67 he served as a lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of Manchester.

Remaining active in Liberal politics, Wallace contested five parliamentary elections. He stood in Huddersfield West in 1970, Manchester Moss Side in both February 1974 and October 1974, and Shipley in 1983 and 1987. He also served as a speechwriter for David Steel and as vice-chairman of the Standing Committee 1977-87. He was co-author of the 1979 Liberal and 1997 Liberal Democrat election manifestos.

Wallace was created a Baron for life in 1995, taking the title Lord Wallace of Saltaire, of Shipley in the County of West Yorkshire. Since then he has been Liberal Democrat spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Defence. In 1997 he became a member of the Select Committee on the European Communities and Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Justice and Home Affairs. In 2001 he became the Liberal Democrats' main frontbench spokesperson in the House of Lords on Foreign Affairs and in November 2004 was elected joint Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Peers.

Think tank elite

Wallace has also served as Director of Studies of the Royal Institute of International Affairs 1978-1990. From 1990 to 1995 Wallace was the Walter Hallstein Senior Research Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford and since 1995 has been a Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics.


Wallace is the author of several books, including The Transformation of Western Europe (1990) and Why Vote Liberal Democrat (1997), written for the United Kingdom general election, 1997. Lord Wallace and his wife have also jointly published several editions of Policy-Making in the European Union.

Lord Wallace is currently President of the Liberal Democrat History Group. He took over this position after the death of Conrad Russell in 2004.