1 AUGUST 1987, Page 21

Grandfather's footsteps

MY grandfather knew Lloyd George, so I can encourage David Owen, who must now take encouragement where he finds it, to reflect that warring Liberals and unsoci- able democrats are nothing new. The `coalition' Liberals under Lloyd George and the Asquithian Liberals — known for their ideological purity as the Wee Frees— spent the 1920s alternating between fight- ing each other and trying to patch things up. Once, when patching up was the order of the day, Lloyd George called a council of his Liberals, at which my grandfather, Harry Fildes, sat (unusually for him) silent. Finally LI.G. turned to him and asked for his opinion. 'May I say what I think, sir?' `Yes, of course."Well, then', said my grandfather, 'I wouldn't be seen dead in a field with a Wee Free.'