As I was going to bed last night, I had a quick look at the Queen’s Birthday Honours and switched off my iPad in disgust when I realised that former Labour cabinet minister Tessa Jowell had been made a Dame.
I wish I’d read on, though, because much further down the page was the news that Gordon Liberal Democrat MP Malcolm Bruce had been knighted. When you can still remember a Conference speech 20 years on, you know it’s had an impact. I remember him making a speech in Glasgow to the Spring Federal Conference in 1992 that was searing in its indignation at the way the Tories had denied Scotland its right of devolution. It was compelling to listen to at the time.
Malcolm’s speeches to Conferences remain one of my favourite parts to this day – they combine a fascinating understanding of history, of how countries work together and the challenges facing the world with a passionate liberalism. He’ll never gloss over difficult problems and if the outlook is gloomy, he’ll jolt you out of any sense of complacency you might be feeling.
The world is a lot better off for his wise contribution on such issues as human rights and international development. He combines that with an understanding of how the global economy works and experience across the employment, trade and treasury parliamentary briefs over the last 29 years as an MP. The Party owes him credit for one of our most popular policies of the 1990s – the penny on income tax to pay for education. He helped build the party up from the nadir of the 60s and 70s so we need to listen to his advice on how to recover our position in these challenging times.
The experience of having a deaf daughter has made him a powerful advocate on issues connected with hearing loss and he chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on deafness.
I am delighted that Sir Malcolm has been awarded this honour – his decades of service both in Scotland, the UK and within the international community deserve recognition.