Michael's involvement with the Liberal Party began in 1958 in Southport, Lancashire. By the end of 1961, after four years as a bank clerk, it was clear that to continue in Liberal politics he would have to do it as a profession and in January 1962 he joined the staff at Liberal Party headquarters, shortly afterwards becoming the party's Local Government Officer. In 1967 he was moved to his home county of the West Riding and, the following May, was elected to the Leeds City Council - the first Liberal success there for thirty years. He continued to be involved with the party organisation regionally and nationally until his election as MP for Leeds West in 1983.
As a Liberal Member of Parliament he was critical of the Alliance with the SDP and opposed the merger in 1988, believing that the SDP's conservatism had contributed to his defeat the year before and that the dilution of Liberalism was neither necessary electorally nor intellectually sustainable. When it became clear that a number of Liberal constituency associations refused to subsume themselves into the merged party he joined with like minded colleagues to maintain an independent Liberal Party, albeit considerably attenuated and marginalised. The three editions of his The Case for the Liberal Party attempt to relate Liberal principles to the current political agenda.
In September 2007, Michael joined the Liberal Democrats, believing that with a Labour government abandoning any pretence of a compassionate approach to politics, the then abject state of politics required a commitment to working within the mainstream. This, coupled with Liberal Democrat principled oppostitions to the Iraq war, its rejection of identity cards and its commitment to a united Europe, led to the decision to join the party.
For over sixty years Michael has written articles, pamphlets and booklets on a wide range of aspects of Liberalism. References to them, and, in some cases, their texts, are available on this website. The most recent articles around Liberalism are to be found here, but see also the Archive section of Writing.