Sir Richard Acland's Decision - 1942
In political circles, the talk of the week has been the resignation of Sir Richard Acland from the Liberal Party. His decision created no surprise among the stalwards of Liberalism in North Devon. Sir Richard's speeches in this Division and in other parts of the Country and votes in the House of Commons, have made it quite obvious that he could not be firmly depended upon as a staunch Liberal. He was 28 years of age when he entered the political arena in the North-West Devon Division and his acceptance as the Liberal candidate rested to no small extent on his membership of a respected Devonshire family, with considerable territorial holdings in the County, who had fought, more or less successfully, Liberal elections in the West. Sir Richard's break with the Liberal Party will, no doubt, come as a relief to the minds of traditional Liberals as well as to himself for his loyalty to Party discipline must have been a mental strain to him as a young man seeking an independent sphere of action in a group in which he would be able to give freer expression to his individualistic interpretation of demoncractic freedom. In this sense, Sir Richard must have been somewhat of a conundrum to Liberal Party leaders and this recalled to my mind an intimate remark once made by that doyen of Party organisers, the late Mr E C Perry, who was the agent for the late Mr C Lane in the famous Home Rule election of half a century ago, when his candidate was returned as the star of Devon, being the only Liberal candidate then elected in the County. Speaking of the Acland family, he said: 'We can hold them in high regard, but they make very difficult Party candidates.'
Loyalty to the adopted leaders of any Party is the very essence of the discipline required for successful Party politics.
The Final Reason
The final reason, we are told, for Sir Richard's resignation from the Liberal Party was the decision at the National Conference of the Liberal Party to maintain the Parliamentary truce to subordinate all Party aims and personal ambitions to the defeat of our country's enemies and the winning of the war. It has been a source of regret among selected Liberals of this Division who have the duty of maintaining the Party's organisation that Sir Richard has chosen at this juncture to break away. But it is now too late for repinings. A meeting of the Executive Committee of the North-West Devon Division Liberal Association is to be held shortly to discuss the present position and to decide upon what future action shall be taken. A strong Liberal Party, pledged to support the Government by every means in its power to win the war is to be desired, and it is to the good of a Healthy House of Commons to ... the Party as strongly represented ... made to be.