Viv Bingham: Popular stalwart of the Liberal Party - Obituaries - News - The Independent

Viv Bingham: Popular stalwart of the Liberal Party

 

Viv Bingham was a Liberal stalwart of firm unilateral views on nuclear defence who retained the affection and support of the whole Party.

He became national president in 1981, the year of the alliance with the SDP, which gave him the most difficult diplomatic task within the party for many decades. His concerns about the dilution of Liberalism were well-known but he upheld the responsibilities of the office with typical fairness. He was helped by his instinctive warmth for all individuals of goodwill and his love of debate.

Bingham was brought up in Alnwick, Northumberland, and his early adulthood was not without its difficulties, including a first marriage to which he very rarely referred, even among close friends. After studying at New College, Oxford, he worked in the personnel departments first of the National Coal Board and then of Imperial Metals Industries and Rubery Owen, both Midlands engineering companies.

His second marriage, to Cecilia Gowan, was a delightful success and a meeting of minds. They established a training consultancy together and it was only the arrival of their two daughters, Katy and Jessica, that pushed Bingham to seek more secure – and pensionable – employment. He joined the Co-operative Wholesale Society (now the Co-operative Group) in 1980 and took on a passionate long-term commitment to co-operation, and to industrial democracy generally, about which he badgered the Liberal party and, later, the Liberal Democrats to get into legislation. Cecilia continued the training consultancy on her own.

Viv Bingham joined the Liberal party in 1962 and always regarded it as his second family. His convivial presence at the annual party conference, usually with Cecilia, and his particular encouragement of young Liberal friends, was much appreciated. Although a keen supporter of municipal candidates, Bingham was always a national politician with a national agenda. He was committed to unilateral nuclear disarmament and his support of Liberal CND was important when the party leadership put pressure on the group.

He was concerned that the leadership's determination to ally with the SDP would dilute the Liberals' long and consistent sympathy for disarmament, even though it never officially went as far as he would have wished. He served on a number of party policy committees and was a regular and persuasive debater at party conferences. In 1978 he published a pamphlet, "We must conquer unemployment".

Bingham was popular with all sections of the Liberal Party and, later, the Liberal Democrats, partly because of his warm personality but also because he was prepared to travel long distances to speak to small groups at unprepossessing venues – and to lead the community singing at the Glee Club on the last night of the annual conference. This latter was a perfect introduction to the choral singing that he took up in later years. He had an ability to build friendships that lasted and it was typical that one of his final acts was to take a leading role last April in organising the memorial celebration for his great friend Elizabeth Sidney.

He fought the 1974 general elections in Heywood and Royton, 1979 in his home constituency of Hazel Grove, and Derbyshire West in 1983. He was also the party's European Parliament election candidate for East Cheshire in 1979. Cecilia died in July 2001 and this was a huge blow to Viv, who needed time to regroup his forces. Though he referred to it himself in his first and last Christmas letter in 2011, it was not widely known that from time to time he suffered from depression, which seemed so distant from the warm and cheerful individual that colleagues knew and appreciated. Typically, he bounced back and in 2005, at the age of 72, he took on the Liberal Democrat candidature in the Stalybridge and Hyde constituency.

He became a member of the National Liberal Club in 1995 and in recent years, in between bouts of ill-health, he was to be found in the bar from time to time contributing animatedly to discussion of the current political agenda. His family was central to his life and he spoke often about his two daughters' success and of his two young grandchildren. He had a mild heart attack last September but seemed to be in better form in recent months; however he was unable to survive another heart attack soon after an otherwise successful operation for cancer.

Vivian Bingham, politician: born 11 April 1932; OBE 1994; married firstly (two sons), secondly Cecilia Gowan (died 2001; two daughters); died 3 March 2012.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skies as 007 for first time
Sport
footballThe latest scores and news from Dortmund vs Arsenal and Liverpool vs Ludogorets
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Life and Style
techCriminals now targeting e-readers
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Life and Style
fashion
Travel
news This video may make you think twice about ever taking the Tube again
Life and Style
A spider is seen in its web on September 16, 2014 in Hohen Meissner, Germany.
tech The 'Spider in Da House' app has been developed by scientists to tackle arachnophobia
Life and Style
fashionIncredibly, it hasn't been branded 'Will.eye.am'
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week