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 AvatarNeil Sandison 4th Jul - 9:10am
    Good article by Paul .I think we have a strong argument for PR in local government .every vote should count and it will improve turnout....
  • User AvatarGreenfield 4th Jul - 8:56am
    I have always been against 'quota' systems, believing that the best person should get the position/job. BUT I now support a temporary measure (unless anyone...
  • User AvatarZack Polanski 4th Jul - 8:56am
    Thanks, Jayne. And naturally, agree entirely.
  • User AvatarNeil Sandison 4th Jul - 8:41am
    I agree with George Potter a lack of political nous on tuition fees was our undoing where we kept on apologising for a policy we...
  • User AvatarPat 4th Jul - 8:14am
    TonyJ "Only in this party could such a fantastic, spectacular piece of news degenerate within 3 comments to a semantic discussion about spelling! " Thoroughly...
  • User AvatarJonathan Brown 4th Jul - 2:42am
    Thanks for asking these questions. It's just scratching the surface, but very welcome nonetheless. I think on balance I find Norman's answer more impressive -...
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