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 AvatarPsi 20th Apr - 9:51pm
    Matthew Huntbach I recognise the symptoms you mention (here and in the link), but I disagree with the cause. The bullying and back stabbing is...
  • User AvatarPaul Pettinger 20th Apr - 9:27pm
    An outrageous personal attack, but where can I get some?
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    Joe Otten: “malc, look how quickly Labour were forgiven for introducing fees after promising not to, despite having a majority in parliament and money to...
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    It is great to see the names of past leaders come to life. I am no fan of John Simon, but it is good to...
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    Paul in T - I don't wish to labour the point nor am I saying that the Falkland's effect was a flash in the pan,...
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    Thanks Simon for the correction. It would be interesting to know what the take up of the Stakeholder (personal) pension has been. As I suggest...