Tag Archives: bill rodgers

“It was a tough battle” – Shirley Williams on the birth of the SDP

Shirley Williams tells the story of the 1981 Gang of Four breakaway, which eventually led to the formation of the Liberal Democrats, in the first issue of AD LIB magazine, out next week.

“…we said, if we haven’t got anywhere else to go, we’ll create one.”

Those nascent views crystallised after the party’s 1981 Wembley conference which committed it to unilateral nuclear disarmament and withdrawal from the EEC and NATO. Within hours Williams, Owen and Rodgers were drawing up the plans which would lead to the creation of the SDP.

“The three of us met – not Roy, at that point –

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 11 Comments

YouTube ‘cos we want to: an SDP special

If the SDP had lived on*, 2009 would have marked its 18th** 28th birthday – which spurious segue is all the excuse we need to dust off three video clips tracing its rise and fall.

Let’s begin at the beginning, with the explosion of the ‘Gang of Four’ – Roy, David, Shirley and Bill – onto the scene, here holding their first press conference in March 1981:

For a year or more it really did seem as if the SDP might truly break the mould of British politics. But the party was shattered by the results of the June 1983 general election, winning only six seats. Here’s the start of the BBC’s election night results programme.

Posted in YouTube | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 4 Comments



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  • User AvatarHelen Tedcastle 25th Oct - 5:56pm
    Matthew Huntbach Giles Fraser is spot on. Anti-politics protest and nihilist figures like Brand do undermine politics and contribute to a cynicism and lack of...
  • User Avatarmalcolm blount 25th Oct - 5:39pm
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  • User AvatarMartin Land 25th Oct - 5:35pm
    No gains, no losses, no candidates. Head Office must be SO proud.
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 25th Oct - 5:25pm
    Helen Tedcastle So I don’t think it is entirely fair to condemn protest movements which are essentially spawned by the failure of political leadership and...
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    One of the obvious conclusions is that the approach that Paddy and his friends and the EU was keen to push didn't actually address the...
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    Paul in Wokingham says, "And I have little idea of what Liberal Democrats stand for. We have this anodyne message about fairer/stronger economy/society that means...