Tag Archives: david owen

“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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Do the Lib Dems have a core vote, and can we grow it?

Is it possible to build a bigger Lib Dem core vote? Mark Pack has previously written here on the need for the party to adopt a ‘core vote’ strategy to protect the party from the adverse headwinds of the next election. I don’t disagree with the aim, I’m just not sure of its realism. Here’s why.

What do we mean by a ‘core vote’?

First, let’s define what’s meant by a ‘core vote': voters who identify with the party and stick with it through the bad times as well as the good. Traditionally this identification has tended to be class-based: working-class …

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Opinion: Why are we waiting?

We have played the waiting game before. It didn’t work in the 1980s, and it won’t work now.

In the 1983 Election, the Alliance reached a high water mark with a 26% vote. But there was discord. The Liberals, who won most seats, felt they should take the lead. The SDP, with their heavyweight experience, saw things differently. Problems grew when Owen took over, refused to collaborate properly, and set out to undermine theAlliancefrom within. A stalemate developed, and a waiting game began.

The Alliance announced to a stunned public that two-headed leadership was the new future. Their slogan “Not Left, Not …

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Opinion: The Flawed Logic of No to AV, Yes to PR

As a supporter and campaigner for a Yes vote in the referendum on the 5th of May, I have often faced the argument that, “I support a proportional system, but AV is not proportional, so I will be voting No”. A prima facie logical argument – if you do not like AV, then why on earth would you vote for it? Big names in the world of electoral reform have signed up to this “No to AV, Yes to PR” ethos, including Lord David Owen, one of the Gang of Four. According to the No to AV, Yes to

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Chris Rennard writes… Why David Owen is wrong on the AV referendum

David Owen chose the weekend of the Lib Dem Conference to offer his advice for the AV referendum. Having attacked the ‘First Past the Post’ voting system so vociferously for many years, it may seem odd to some people that he now urges support for this system on May 5th. He says that he hopes for a referendum with an option of a Proportional Representation system instead.

Almost all those people who have consistently supported the cause of electoral reform for much longer than he has take a different view. It is very clear that voting against change on May …

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David Owen: Lib Dems should “campaign for a role in a government of national unity”

To be a fair, a former Labour minister, ex-SDP leader and Tory voter is probably the natural person to advocate a national unity government – and that’s exactly what David Owen has done today in an article in The Times:

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, and his deputy, Vince Cable, need to position themselves as ready to shoulder the burden of responsibility for hard economic choices, and help to provide, with one of the big parties, the principled, practical government that the country so sorely needs. That means talking to voters about participating in a government of national unity.

The

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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
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPhilip Thomas 29th Mar - 11:18am
    (Also known as, which of them would we reverse if we had the chance?)
  • User AvatarPhilip Thomas 29th Mar - 11:17am
    @Simon did we support the other things Ruth mentions? Or were some of them only agreed to grudgingly?
  • User AvatarSimon McGrath 29th Mar - 11:15am
    @ruth - you are correct we did support abolishing the EMA - aka pocket money bribes for potential Labour voters. happy to say that we...
  • User AvatarDominic 29th Mar - 11:11am
    say what you like about the "Ginger Rodent" but he's certainly got a sense of humour and doesn't take himself too seriously :)
  • User AvatarPhilip Thomas 29th Mar - 11:03am
    @jedibeeftrix: It is sinister because it feeds the fears of that core demographic rather than soothing them.
  • User AvatarPhilip Thomas 29th Mar - 10:58am
    At last someone has the courage to attack the Tories
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