In the General Election of 1880 the Grey Committee played a prominent role in securing the return of the Liberal Party to power. To build on this success the committee was made into a permanent speakers' club and renamed The Eighty Club.
Formally established in February 1881, the activities of the Club were mainly educational and organizational. It provided a forum for debate, establishing close ties with university Liberal Clubs, and despatched speakers and lecturers to university associations, especially during election campaigns.
Propaganda was another sphere of activity. The appearance of the first Circular in 1886 led to the creation of the Publications Committee and its successor, the Liberal Publications Department.
The Club also arranged social functions and visits abroad including an expedition to Hungary in September 1906.
In its heyday the Club was an important political body, despite lacking premises of its own. But during the 1960s the administration of the Liberal Party was reorganised, with more and more of the work being conducted from the Party's headquarters. The Club continued to hold regular meetings but attempts during 1965-6 to re-establish it as a focal point for radical views were unsuccessful and it fell into decline.
The Eighty Club was disbanded in 1978 and its assets were transferred to the Association of Liberal Lawyers. To commemorate the Club the Association organises an annual lecture by a public figure, the first of which was given by Jo Grimond, a former leader of the Liberal Party.
The papers of The Eighty Club consist of:
The collection was given to the Library in 1989 by the Association of Liberal Lawyers.Access Conditions
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Eighty Club, London
Union of University Liberal Societies
Great Britain | Politics and government | 19th century
Great Britain | Politics and government | 20th century