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23 April 2021

Shirley Williams's godmother was Winifred Holtby, author of The Crowded Street (and so much else). She died when Shirley was only 5 and this was the other great grief of Vera Brittain's years as a mother. But Shirley came through all the sadness and forged her own inimitable path. Martin Kettle wrote about her ideals in the Guardian yesterday, here, and quoted her saying 'I have never understood or accepted that some people, through the accident of birth, should be so much richer, have so much greater opportunities and better access to education, healthcare and good housing than others.' Hear, hear a thousand times over. But then Kettle explains that Shirley's great gift was her willingness to compromise. If only present-day politicians had this gift. But they don't and we are where we are. It was a better world when Shirley Williams was in it.

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