Friday, January 11, 2008

The conquest of Everest – a Liberal Democrat success?

Well not quite, and to say so would, at the very least, be anachronistic.

But Sir Edmund Hillary’s death reminds me that the leader of the successful Everest expedition in 1952, John Hunt, later Sir John Hunt, later Baron Hunt of Llanfair Waterdine, was a Liberal Democrat member.

I noticed his entry the last issue of Who’s who in the Liberal Democrats published before his death in 1998. His Wikipedia entry makes no mention of his political allegiance, but according to the Dictionary of national biography, he was ennobled in 1966, sat initially as a cross-bencher, but joined the SDP on its formation in 1981. The author of the DNB entry states:

Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing had for the first time reached the summit—now surveyed at 29,035 feet. But it was to the leader that the greatest credit was due. Even though he had personally climbed to 27,350 feet in support of the two assaults, it was his battle-hardened powers of leadership and skilful planning that assured success.

I see that Hunt published an autobiography, Life is Meeting, which is available from Amazon for little more than the price of the postage. Perhaps Nick Clegg should read it, containing as it no doubt does, wise words from a successful Liberal Democrat leader.

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