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. Historical footnote: the first three constituencies to declare that night were Guildford, Torbay and Cheltenham – all then safe Tory seats, all since represented by Lib Dem MPs:

Another four years, another disappointing general election result, and it was all over for the SDP. ITV’s Spitting Image captured, rather too accurately, the simmering tension of the ‘Two Davids’ leadership as the Alliance reincarnated itself as the Liberal Democrats:

* technically, the SDP does still live on, of course – indeed, according to its website, ‘the SDP is planning to revamp its operations in 2006/2007’.

** My Math = FAIL

Read more by or more about , , , , , , , , or .
This entry was posted in YouTube.
Advert

4 Comments

  • Liberal Neil 1st Aug '09 - 9:19am

    28th surely!

    I remember seeing Shirley speak in 1985 when I was a sixthformer – absolutely fantastic she wasM

  • Harry Hayfield 1st Aug '09 - 11:22am

    The Social Democrats have a number of councillors including three in Aberavon in Neath and Port Talbot. Surely, you should have added the Bootle 1990 by-election result (when the Loonies outpolled the SDP)

  • It is fair to argue that the SDP was shattered prior to the 1983 general election. A few of the MPs who defected from Labour to the SDP opted to take their choice to the voters at a by-election and promptly got thumped. Those SDP candidates who got elected before 1988 learned their lessons from the old ALC campaign manuals. Recent Lib Dem activists will be unaware of the hostility in the so-called Alliance, but a minority of SDP activists expected votes on a plate owing to their virtuousness.

    We often forget that the SDP maintained the Liberal tradition of attracting individuals with ridiculous names. Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler MP should always be remembered.

  • When I was PPC in Hammersmith in 2005 I canvassed a household in Ravenscourt Park. I was greeted by a man who was the 1983 SDP candidate in Hammersmith. He told me that the Liberals stood against him, one of 3 seats apparently where this happened. Many SDPers did not join the merged party back in 1987, others drifted away from politics or went back to Labour, or even the Tories – quite a severe loss of talent overall.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Helen Dudden
    Restricting heating wont help. Black mould has been a culture in the many years of social housing. The lack of repairs, housing that was not that great to st...
  • Geoff Reid
    As a Methodist my instincts are usually to avoid interfering in private grief. However while the influence of bishops in the Lords may be marginal, this is grea...
  • Mick Taylor
    I rather fear that this sort of casual racism is far more common that any of us like to admit. I remember canvassing in a by-election that the BNP won. I, perh...
  • Mary ReidMary Reid
    When my mother was in her 90s and suffering from Alzheimer's I took in a photo of Obama and explained that he was the new US President. "Oh, he's a negro!" she ...
  • expats
    I clicked on a link to 'Petsy' Wyatt, it took me to the 'Mail' comments page; 'nuff said'!...