THEY had both established careers for themselves before carving out political aspirations – which is a commendable achievement in today’s political climate.

And their reasons for entering the world of politics?

Quite simply, both sought to achieve fairness in society.

Mike and Veronica German are both stalwarts of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

But where did it all start for him and her?

Lord German’s birth happened to fall on a rather memorable date in the world calendar.

He said: “I was born in Cardiff on VE Day. So next year the country is having a special bank holiday for my birthday.”

He continued: “I started off as a teacher and got involved in student politics.

“It was when I was teaching in Cardiff that I got elected chairman of the local branch of the Teacher’s Association. The position involved me negotiating on behalf of teachers with the local council.”

The 74-year-old revealed his salient reason for joining the Welsh Liberal Democrats was to pursue social justice and fairness.

“Social justice and fairness are at the heart of the party,” he said.

“I became a Liberal Democrat largely because of those things.

“I was also looking for a party that gave people a helping hand – and a safety net – to achieve their goals.”

South Wales Argus: Lord Mike GermanLord Mike German

In the years that followed, Lord German would hold a range of political positions.

“I was encouraged from the local branch to put my name forward as a parliamentary candidate in October 1974,” he said.

“Later on, I won a seat on Cardiff council and led the group for a number of years.

“For a period, we had a three-way coalition; between us, Labour and the Conservatives. I remained a councillor for 17 years.”

Two years after the electorate voted to have a Welsh Assembly in the 1997 referendum, Lord German was elected as a regional AM for South Wales East.

“Home Rule has always been a liberal idea,” he said.

“We campaigned vigorously for it.

“I led the campaign for the Welsh Liberal Democrats during the referendum.

“I was elected in 1999 for South Wales East. At that point I was living in Cardiff, I then moved to Argoed and later to Cwmbran.”

He added: “I am a federalist and believe in the United Kingdom. Both Cardiff and London need to learn from each other. And both sides must respect each other as equals, rather than ‘big brother v little brother’.

“Cardiff is being treated a bit like London – and devolution must not stop at the River Taff. The parliament needs to be one for the whole of Wales.”

The Welsh Liberal Democrats and Welsh Labour Parties later entered a coalition, resulting in Lord German becoming deputy first minister.

He recalled: “In 2000, Alun Michael resigned before a vote of no confidence and Rhodri Morgan and I put together a programme for government.

“That lasted to 2003.

“There were many things that we achieved: we made changes to how the Assembly operated as well as offered support for businesses and reduced class sizes. We were also on the way to abolish prescriptions in Wales.

“I was also the minister for economic development during the foot-and-mouth crisis.

“My job was to keep tourists coming when parts of the countryside were closed.

“I kept footpaths open, encouraged people to visit castles and other places.

“There was a lot of persuasion to do.”


In 2010 he was offered a peerage in Gordon Brown’s resignation honour’s list.

But he added: “I am absolutely in favour of a smaller, elected upper chamber. I wish the House of Commons would stop getting in the way of this and allow it to happen.”

When he accepted the peerage, he subsequently stood down as an AM and was replaced by the number two on the list – his wife, Veronica.

Lord German added: “We originally met in the Monmouth by-election in 1991.

“When we were chosen to become candidates for the assembly we were not married.”

Veronica German was born in Birmingham and, like her husband, was a teacher for many years.

“I had taught in Bettws and other places in South Wales,” she said.

“It was during the early 1980s that I moved to Wales.”

South Wales Argus: Veronica German outside the Welsh AssemblyVeronica German outside the Welsh Assembly

She, too, was largely driven to join the Welsh Liberal Democrats to achieve fairness – but also because, in her view, the country’s electoral system needed replacing.

“I chose the Liberal Democrats because of the issue surrounding proposal representation,” she said.

“We need that system because it is efficient.

“The Liberal Democrats are also about fairness and that is the other reason why I joined the party and got involved in politics.”

Her political career included serving as an agent to Kirsty Williams, a councillor for St Julians ward and latterly Llanyrafon North ward, as well as an assembly member.

“I had been Kirsty Williams’ agent in 2003 and managed to increase her majority,” she said.

“But when I joined the Assembly, it was difficult because I had not been established.

“I took over with less than a year to go before an election.

“Unfortunately, I lost the seat by 127 votes – which was not a lot when you think I represented eight constituencies.

“I was pretty devastated. But I knew it had been on the cards because it was a year after the coalition with the Conservatives.”

After the Assembly, the ex-politician volunteered at charity Dolen Cymru, which seeks to foster stronger links between Wales and Lesotho.

The experience left a huge impression on her.

“It is a wonderful charity,” she said.

“Wales and Lesotho are twinned.

“I later became director of the charity.

“We seek to enrich communities and promote partnerships between schools.”