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Social Democratic Party 25th Anniversary

February 16, 2006 9:19 AM

SDP 25th Anniversary remembered by Dundee Liberal DemocratsWith the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) fast approaching, Dr Liz Dick, a leading light in the Dundee SDP in the 1980s (and in the Dundee Liberal Democrats since the SDP/Liberal merger in 1988) writes:

When former Labour Cabinet Ministers, Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, Bill Rogers and David Owen left the Labour party in 1981 to form the SDP, their main policies were summarised as the 4 Es, Equality, Environment, Economy and Europe. A 5th E was soon added, Excitement.

The SDP/Liberal Alliance rose rapidly in the polls to over 50%. All seats were deemed winnable and for some over 200 people applied to become candidates.

Bill Rogers I remember as the good chairman of the SDP working party on the environment. He would lean back in his seat, stretch out his legs and say to the greenest members "convince me."

Shirley Williams, whom I particularly admired, said it was painful to leave the party she loved and be called a traitor by her friends. She left not just because of changing Labour party policies, but even more because she and others were not allowed to speak about them. I went to the largely Tory school she was at in London. The Labour Food Minister, Edith Summerskill, whose daughter was at the school, invited the debating society to visit Parliament. There we were told 'It doesn't matter what party you are, we need more women MPs.' Those words of wisdom lay dormant in me for 33 years and sprang to life with the formation of the SDP.

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