Tag Archives: SDP

Ukip examined: who they are, what they stand for, and what it all means for British politics

revolt on the right ukipI’ve just finished reading Revolt on the Right, Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin’s fascinating book analysing the rise of Ukip and what makes the party and its voters tick. Mark Pack has already written a very good review for LibDemVoice here. Here’s my take on some of its key insights.

Who votes for Ukip? The ‘left behind’

For a start, it debunks the myth that Ukip is a party of disaffected, well-to-do, shire-Tories obsessed by Europe and upset by David Cameron’s mild social liberalism on same-sex marriage. Yes, there are some Ukip voters like that, but they tend to be its peripheral voters, the ones most likely to give the Tories a kick in the Euros next month then return to their traditional True Blue ways in time for the general election. Ukip’s core vote in reality is made up of what the authors define as ‘left behind’ voters, overwhelmingly comprising older white working class males with no formal educational qualifications.

Posted in Books and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 83 Comments

“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

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 …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 65 Comments

Thatcher papers show 25 Tory MPs considered joining early SDP

A number of things hit the headlines this morning as the Margaret Thatcher Foundation reveals papers from 1981.

The early morning BBC radio headlines focussed on a meeting between Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch around the time News International acquired:

Margaret Thatcher had a secret meeting with Rupert Murdoch at Chequers weeks before his 1981 purchase of the Times newspapers, newly released files show.

A note by her press secretary Bernard Ingham says the prime minister thanked Mr Murdoch for “keeping her posted”.

But the contentious issue of whether to refer the bid to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission was not raised.

But as …

Posted in LibLink and News | Also tagged , , , and | 9 Comments

Revealed: The Liberal Democrats’ new HQ

Great George Street SW1

The Liberal Democrats plan to relocate this summer to a new headquarters in Westminster, close to Whitehall and the Houses of Parliament.

The party has chosen newly-refurbished offices on the second floor at 8-10 Great George Street, opposite the Treasury.

Party staff can look forward to a modern, open-plan office on one floor, in contrast to the current Cowley Street offices – which are arranged over five floors, in an array of dolls’-house type compartments.

At around 7000 square feet, the floor area is …

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , , and | 29 Comments

Who are the heirs of the SDP?

Today (March 26th) is the 30th anniversary of the founding of the SDP. To mark the occasion last Monday CentreForum organised a discussion “the Class of 81: Who are the true heirs of the SDP? with leading former SDP members, Chris Huhne , Greg Clark (Tory Decentralisation Minister) and Andrew Adonis (Labour’s former Transport and Schools Minister) on the panel. In the audience were Bill Rodgers, Shirley Williams, members of Roy Jenkins’ family, countless former SDP members as well as a good few ”political anoraks”.

It was an evening of reminiscing, “what ifs”, analysis, historical reflection and a few amusing ironies. …

Posted in Op-eds | 23 Comments

Today’s the anniversary of the Limehouse Declaration

On 25 January 1981, four senior Labour politicians – Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams – issued the Limehouse Declaration, so called after David Owen’s East London home. It set out their plans which were to result in the formation of the SDP. As you can see, many of their policy concerns are still highly relevant:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 53 Comments

Opinion: pots and kettles – names and games and a journey towards political maturity

Michael Collins, a lecturer in twentieth century British history at UCL, has predicted at Open Democracy–Tuition fees just the beginning of Lib Dem troubles that the “SDP contingent” in the Liberal Democrats faces an existential battle with “coalition Liberals” over the future of the party.

Collins’ fantasy Lib Dem politics isn’t very convincing but there are a growing number of matching accounts, which mirror his portrayal of Liberal Democrat division, include accusations of unprincipled behaviour and go on to predict the party’s demise. It seems reasonable to respond to Collins’ account of ‘Lib Dem troubles’ with a little history and …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 17 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 26 March 2010

Time flies – Friday already! And is it really 29 years to the day that the Gang of Four launched a new political party: the Social Democrats?

Roy Jenkins said at the launch:

We want to get away from the politics of our dated dogmatism and class confrontation. We want to release the energies of people who are fed up with the old slanging match.

Watch the video of the launch here.

2 Big Stories

Digital economy bill to be pushed through parliament next month

The controversial digital economy bill will be pushed through in the “wash-up” leading up to an election, after the government confirmed that it will receive its second reading in the Commons on 6 April – the same day that Gordon Brown is expected to seek Parliament’s dissolution.

Harriet Harman, the leader of the house, said today that the bill will get its second reading. But when questioned by Labour MPs Neil Gerrard and Tom Watson about the lack of time given to debate over controversial issues in the bill, she said only that “ministers are aware” of the strong feelings that the proposed legislation has engendered.

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , , , and | 1 Comment

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

Are there more ex-SDP members on the Tory front-bench than the Lib Dem front-bench?

Danny Finkelstein asks the question over at The Times’s Comment Central here. Scores on the doors (allegedly) so far show it to be a draw…

Tory shadow cabinet ex-SDPers: Greg Clark, Chris Grayling, Andrew Lansley and David Mundell.
Lib Dem shadow cabinet ex-SDPers: Vince Cable, Chris Huhne, Tom McNally and Paul Burstow

Or can LDV readers point out more…?

Posted in Humour and News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 12 Comments



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarLiberal Al 2nd Sep - 6:01pm
    Well said, Matthew.
  • User AvatarLiberal Al 2nd Sep - 5:58pm
    @Simon, I take that your ad hominem approach of calling me 'emotional' instead of defending your 'facts' or addressing the points raised is your way...
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    Sorry, just one amendment: me using the word nonsense was unfair, I know the UK's finance sector has a lot of problems and these used...
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    The Lib Dem friends of Palestine have lost a good friend - we all mourn him.