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 –

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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

Recent Comments

  • User Avatarnvelope2003 21st Oct - 11:52am
    I wonder if the Labour vote would have held up so well if they had been third or fourth at the 2015 election and the...
  • User AvatarGeoff Reid 21st Oct - 11:51am
    Batley and Spen looks set for significant boundary changes anyway. Meanwhile, on a day which was heavy with council by-elections, let us applaud (our) Denis...
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 21st Oct - 11:45am
    Back to reality. Westminster voting intention: CON: 42% LAB: 26% LDEM: 8% UKIP: 12% GRN: 5% (Election Data / YouGov 19-20th Oct)@britainelects Country wide people...
  • User AvatarCassieB 21st Oct - 11:10am
    John> only managed to knock 2% off Labour vote But their vote dropped from 10,046 in 2015 to 5,765 (4,281) yesterday. Ukip dropped a similar...
  • User AvatarDavid Pearce 21st Oct - 11:09am
    I would put a word of caution about the relaitively poor performance of Labour. He was an anti-Corbyn and pro getting on with Brexit candidate....
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 21st Oct - 11:07am
    There was a vigorous campaign on the NHS. The result in the Eastbourne bye-election helped the Ribble Valley bye-election, which helped the bye-election in Kincardine...