Watch: Shirley Williams on retirement and how the government’s attitude to junior doctors could break NHS

Shirley on Victoria DerbyshireOn Thursday, her last day in the House of Lords before her retirement, Shirley Williams spent 20 minutes talking to Victoria Derbyshire.

You can watch the conversation, which covered women in politics, social media (she thinks that “the cruellest people in society” shouldn’t be given a voice), how some were bemused by her specialism in fields not traditionally done by women, such as nuclear proliferation, how we should take thousands of refugee children and relived the previous struggle over Ugandan refugees in the 70s when she stuck to her guns.

She says Jeremy Corbyn is a decent guy, much more like Michael Foot than the “left wing ideologues” who are riding on his coat tails. She predicts that some people will leave Labour, some for us and others for the Conservatives.

She told the horrible story of how she and her friend, at the age of 13, spent 4 days of a Transatlantic voyage hiding to avoid being assaulted by sailors.

As Education Secretary she was responsible for introducing comprehensive education. She talks about the reality of life for those condemned to the lack of opportunities in the old system. Even now, people come up and thank her for giving them the opportunities she had given them.

If you do nothing else, watch the whole thing here.

You just wonder how much better life would have been if it had been her and not her predecessor as Education Secretary, who had been Britain’s first woman PM.

The Independent ran a wonderful profile of her this week, too:

When she wasn’t busy co-founding the Liberal Democrat party, Williams was pushing through legislation to abolish capital punishment and hurling punches at an unruly anti-colonial rally in Nyasaland.

Widely revered as a strong and fiercely independent woman, Williams fought and overcame sexism throughout her political career.

Growing up in a learned, erudite household, Williams is the daughter of Vera Brittain, the esteemed feminist, avid pacifist and author of Testament of Youth – the seminal book stirred by the death of Brittain’s fiancé, brother and two closest male friends during the First World War.

We’ll miss her from the Lords, but Shirley will be a strong force in the European Referendum campaign.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings