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 AvatarTsar Nicolas 18th Sep - 2:38pm
    The Lib Dems in wales are not in favour of localism, so far as I can see. The current big thing from Cardiff Bay is...
  • User AvatarAndrewR 18th Sep - 2:21pm
    Whatever the truth about the position of an independent Scotland and the EU even the worst case scenario is better than being forced out permanently...
  • User AvatarRoland 18th Sep - 2:17pm
    @JohnTilley - I would agree that when the time is right strange things can and does happen in politic's. However, all I pointed out (and...
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 18th Sep - 2:12pm
    Charlie There is a lot in your comment, I hope you will understand if I do not respond to every point. I do not have...
  • User AvatarIgor S 18th Sep - 2:07pm
    Mark: I agree, if no narrowly wins, and Westminster dos not deliver on the pledge, it can get nasty.
  • User AvatarIgor S 18th Sep - 2:05pm
    No: 60%, Yes: 40%