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 AvatarIgor Sagdejev 20th Oct - 11:38pm
    Stuart, it is fun reading your posts. BTW, the Brits are not the worst in learning languages. Russians are about that bad too, not to...
  • User AvatarGeorge Potter 20th Oct - 11:37pm
    And, incidentally, I think it's worth pointing out that, as a parliamentarian, the noble lord Tony Greaves is a voting representative for life when it...
  • User AvatarGeorge Potter 20th Oct - 11:33pm
    @David Evans Actually the comment by Tony Greaves is completely illogical and unsubstantiated. For one thing, if we switched to one member, one vote but...
  • User AvatarIgor Sagdejev 20th Oct - 11:31pm
    But the English retirees living in Spain are an entirely different matter! They are paying coostomers! The Spanish must be double happy to have them....
  • User AvatarPeter 20th Oct - 11:29pm
    I think having policy that is in the interests of the membership at large as opposed to just those who have been active in their...
  • User AvatarPaul In Wokingham 20th Oct - 11:02pm
    5th place. In a national opinion poll. Behind the Greens. And there are still nearly 7 months until the election. In the raw data for...