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 AvatarLorenzo Cherin 19th Sep - 4:15pm
    Dve ,We are in a sense back to the two party system of allegiance , but with a multi party activism of members. This party...
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    Half hearted? Yes half-hearted! I agree "project fear" might have been running but as we saw the Leave movement had those who could conjure up...
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    Dave That's the conundrum. A two-party system that will never deliver. It seems most people don't remember what British Rail was really like. In the...
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    Best leader's speech since Jo Grimond.
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    Will we ever learn the lessons of the Brexit debate. Remain lost because it concentrated on the economic argument and ignored the sovereignty argument. Leave...
  • User AvatarDave Orbison 19th Sep - 3:37pm
    Lorenzo - bias yes I am. Aren't you? So let's be objective. LibDems are bumping along at 7%, Labour now at 43% and over half...