Montgomeryshire Liberal Democrats have a long and proud history of representing the wonderful people of Montgomeryshire stretching over 100 years.
From 1880-2010 (130 years) the County was represented by a Liberal MP continuously except for a four-year period from 1979-83.
Between 1880-1894, Montgomeryshire elected its first Liberal MP, Stuart Rendel, 1st Baron Rendel. Rendel. Although an Englishman and an Anglican, he was popular in his Welsh-speaking constituency and was nicknamed "the member for Wales" because of his vocal support for Welsh-related causes, such as the creation of the University of Wales in Aberystwyth. A close friend and associate of Liberal Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, he was recognised as the leader of the Welsh members of parliament. He also supported disestablishment.
Apart from his political career, Rendel was a benefactor to the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth and served as its president from 1895 to 1913. He donated land for the establishment of the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, where many of his papers have been deposited.
Between 1894 – 1906, Arthur Humphreys-Owen who was born in Garthmyl was the MP. Owen was a barrister and had also been chairman of Montgomeryshire County Council and the Cambrian Railways Company.
From 1906 – 1929, David Davies, 1st Baron Davies served as the County’s MP. David Davies was born in Llandinam and was the only son of David Davies, often known as David Davies Llandinam, was the greatest Welsh industrialist of the Victorian era, having made his fortune in the coal mines. Elected age just 26, he is still the youngest MP in Montgomeryshire’s history.
David fought in the First World War where he commanded the 14th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers until 1916, when he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to Liberal Party Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
Following the war, Davies became an active supporter of the League of Nations (the predecessor to the United Nations) and his experience in the trenches inspired him to found the International Politics Department at Aberystwyth University, the oldest department of its kind in the World.
Like his sisters, Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, David was a significant philanthropist who donated to a number of good causes both locally and nationally. In 1910, he contributed £150,000 (£16.3 million as of 2023) to the King Edward VII Welsh National Memorial, which was formed with the aim of eradicating tuberculosis in Wales.
Between 1929 and 1962, Clement Davies was Montgomeryshire’s voice in Parliament. Clement Davies was from Llanfyllin and a practising lawyer and former lecturer at Aberystwyth University. He was a staunch supporter of David Lloyds George and later in World War Two, was part of a key group of MPs that played a significant role in forcing the resignation of the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain.
He became the Leader of the Liberal Party in 1945 and stayed in the position until 1956. He is recognised as playing a key role in ensuring the Party didn’t merge into Labour or the Conservatives following a difficult post-war period
Emlyn Hooson, Baron Hooson a Second World War Royal Navy Veteran and barrister from a farming background took over as MP in 1956 and served until 1979. Hooson played a key role in creating a united Welsh Liberal Party and was a passionate supporter of a Welsh Parliament, introducing a bill calling for its establishment in 1967.
Hooson had also represented families set to be impacted by the construction of Clywedog Reservoir near Llanidloes.
In 1979 he was appointed to the House of Lords where he served until his death in 2012.
Outside of politics, he was active in the local young farmers’ clubs, as a non-executive director at Laura Ashley and in the National Eisteddfod of Wales.
Alex Carlile, a barrister, represented the seat from 1983-1997 when the Liberal Party merged with the Social Democratic Party to form the Liberal Democrats. Following his retirement as an MP he entered the House of Lords in 1999 where he currently sits as a Cross-bench Member.
Lembit Öpik took over the seat in 1997, holding it until 2010. Lembit was known as a maverick and for his charismatic (perhaps even cheeky) personality, although he was always fondly remembered for getting constituents' casework done. Lembit served as Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats from 2001 to 2007.
1999 saw the creation of the then National Assembly for Wales (now the Senedd / Welsh Parliament). During the first election, Montgomeryshire chose Liberal Democrat candidate Mick Bates to be their voice in Cardiff Bay, a position he held until 2011.
Mick was a teacher and farmer by trade and had been the Chairman of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Llanfair Caereinion Branch and a County Councillor for Dyffryn Banw.
Mick was passionate about rural Wales and during his time in the Assembly, Bates campaigned for extra money for rural schools and to put major road schemes into the Welsh Government Transport Plan, including the Newtown bypass, Buttington improvements, the Four Crosses bypass, and the Glandyfi bends.
He also promoted and secured free school milk for key stage one students in Wales, helped to establish the Small Schools Fund, and wrote a Biomass Strategy based on a local project in Llanwyddyn to provide heat and hot water for the school and surrounding houses.
On agriculture, Bates designed the unique concept of Farming Connect, a free business advisory service to help farmers throughout Wales. He campaigned successfully for the creation of an independent appeals panel to resolve subsidy disputes.
The environment was a really important issue for Bates, and he was widely regarded as raising green issues in the Welsh Parliament long before climate change became a mainstream issue.
During the period of 2011 – 2016, Montgomeryshire residents were also represented by William Powell who as well as being a Councillor for Talgarth, served as the Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for Mid & West Wales covering all of Powys, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and part of Gwynedd. William Powell was an instrumental voice in getting the Welsh Government to fund the construction of the new Dyfi Bridge in Machynlleth.
Montgomeryshire residents are now represented by Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds in the Senedd since 2021 under the Mid & West Wales list seat.
Jane has already delivered key policy wins through negotiations with the Welsh Government, including £20 million to support children coming out of care, increased mental health funding for young people and protecting the pupil premium budget.
In 2022, the Liberal Democrats made history in Powys, coming from third place to beat the Conservative and Independent coalition and take control of Powys County Council, marking the first time in Powys Councils history that it has been led by a political party.