Monday, 31 March 2014

Joan Davies, a true liberal

I have just learned, by a roundabout route, that Joan Davies died peacefully on the morning of 25th March. I knew her for all too brief a time as the moving spirit behind DAGGER, the Liberal/Liberal Democrat pressure group for fair votes in the UK. She had also been a European Parliament candidate for the party in Wales. It would be a great tribute to her memory if May 2014 were to see the first Welsh Liberal Democrat elected to the EP.

However, I see from her entry in the LibDem Who's Who that she was more than those things. She was actually a Yorkshirewoman (born Joan Dorothy Higman to parents in Leeds). Having obtained a BA (Hons) in politics and economics at Leeds University, she became a lecturer at Sandhurst Military Academy. The Welsh connection was presumably her late husband Gwilym Davies, with whom she had two daughters and two sons.

True electoral reform was close to her heart. She had been chair of the Electoral Reform Society, but broke with that organisation when it decided to compromise on its previously rigorous policy of single transferable votes in multi-member constituencies.

She was also a member of the Fawcett Society, Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International (for which organisation she also spoke), founder of the British Support Group for the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices (she must have been heartened by Lynne Featherstone's recent successes in this area), and spoke for democracy in conferences and so on both in the United States and on the continent of Europe, particularly Eastern Europe.

As Michael Steed, an old friend of hers and a fellow campaigner for voting reform puts it, Joan was "a doughty fighter in good causes". My thoughts are with her family, and her companion of latter years, John Holman.

The funeral service will be held at St Michaels Church in Bishop Cleeve, Gloucs at 2pm on Monday 7 April.

1 comment:

Frank H Little said...

A story that Joan liked to tell was from her time at Sandhurst. The powers at the military college had not considered the difficulties of toilet arrangements for the first female staff member. Since she objected to making do with the facilities for the cleaners, they were compelled to make available to Joan the loo reserved for the Queen.