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 AvatarDavid-1 22nd Feb - 1:26am
    Christopher Haigh: If you had lived through those long-ago forgotten days of the Coalition, you would have remembered that a powerless minority in a government...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 21st Feb - 10:42pm
    Ian Hurdley, I did address what policies the party should be pursuing, if we leave the EU. I think even if we stayed in the...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 21st Feb - 10:32pm
    @Sean Hagan You know, when it comes to Article 50, I’m never sure what verb to use. Suspend, postpone, how about ‘suspone ‘? Extend would...
  • User AvatarChristopher Haigh 21st Feb - 10:07pm
    The saddest thing about this breakaway group is the defection of the three Tories. They are most needed within Tory party itself to give it...
  • User AvatarRichard O'Neill 21st Feb - 10:04pm
    @Jen That's what baffles me about the timing of this breakaway. Three months ago, it would have made sense. Now it has become a sideshow,...
  • User AvatarSean Hagan 21st Feb - 10:02pm
    @John Marriott: “ ... What I am bothered about at the moment is what happens in the House of Commons between now and 29 March...
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