Obituary: Philip Vince

19 February 1933 – 4 February 2015

Philip Vince was a faithful member of the Liberal/Liberal Democrat Party for sixty-five years, and he regularly attended party conferences. Both William Beveridge and Lady Juliet Rhys- Williams had been members of the Liberal Party, and maybe it was the latter’s influence that led to the Liberals putting forward their own tax credits scheme in 1979, in which Philip was involved, and which he prepared for submission to the same 1983 Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee enquiry to which Brandon Rhys Williams MP submitted the Basic Income scheme prepared by Hermione Parker. However, the Liberal Party’s policy became lost during the late 1980s, when the newly-formed Social Democratic Party regularly held their annual conference in the week before that of the Liberal Party, and effectively defined their own and the Liberal Party’s joint policy: but during the early 1990s Philip was again involved in the Liberal Democrats’ advocacy for a Citizen’s Income.

Philip was a founder member of the Basic Income Research Group (BIRG) in 1984, and a trustee since it became a charity in 1989. BIRG changed its name to the Citizen’s Income Trust (CIT) in 1992. Philip was a solid soldier to its cause over many years. He became Secretary and Treasurer in 2001 and kept our accounts in order and prepared them for auditing. Trustees’ meetings benefited from his sharp intellect and astute comments. He kept up-to-date with, and was knowledgeable about, the changes in the benefit and income tax systems each year, and contributed to the detail of CIT’s costings of different CI schemes. He was also involved in preparing the Citizen’s Income Trust’s evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s enquiry into benefits simplification in 2006.

Philip was an intensely private person, and tried to keep the different compartments of his life separate from each other. One department of his life that he kept strictly separate from everything else was his thirty years of mathematical work for IBM, from the development of the first commercial mainframe computers to that of the first personal computers. In relation to all of his other activities, Philip eschewed the services of a personal computer, and we were used to receiving letters in his small, clear, precise handwriting. The common theme binding together his work for the Citizen’s Income Trust, his work for IBM, and much else, was a love of numbers: a passion that he developed while he was studying mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and that never left him.

Philip lived in the same London flat all of his adult life. He was very keen on music and regularly attended the Wexford Music Festival in Ireland and Glyndebourne. While in hospital in November 2014 for a heart operation, which was successful, he contracted an infection that eventually resulted in his death. Philip was a kind and gentle being. We shall miss his warmth, civility, dignity, and quiet, thoughtful presence at future trustees’ meetings.