The SDP has won the argument…and Liberals must not forget it
October 5, 2010 § 3 Comments
For a political party that eventually had a very sad, lonely, exit in the early 1990’s, the SDP (Social Democratic Party) has had a major impact on modern British politics and, I would argue, has won the argument in terms of how we should run our country.
Each major party, even the Tories-though they may not admit it or even recognise it in themselves-is battling for that centre-left ground which, for a brief shimmering moment, the SDP once dominated.
I was just ten or so when the SDP disbanded and, you may not be surprised to hear, politics was not exactly my first priority, but I’ve no doubt that had it have been around when I was making a choice about which party to join, I may well have stapled my colours to the SDP mast.
It truly did represent a ‘third way’ in British politics…different to the Labour left and the Conservative right.
And if the early 90’s was about ‘new’ Labour acquiescing to parts of the Thatcher legacy, then the Noughties were all about the Tories, however begrudgingly, accepting an SDP centrist style philosophy, if only in their rhetoric.
The one party which seems unable to capitalise-for want of a better word-on the acceptance of mainstream social democracy is the one in which that tradition was enveloped-to create a singular ‘third force’ In British politics, the Liberal Democrats.
I am a social liberal, I believe in fairness, in social justice, in everyone being given a fair go.
I believe in this Coalition-it is the right thing for Britain- but so called ‘Orange Book’ Ministers must remember that, as Lib Dems, they are the successors to two fine traditions; not only the cause of liberalism (individual liberty, personal freedom, etc) but also that of centrist social democracy (fairness, decency.)
I’m thankful that the likes of former SDP MP’s, Charles Kennedy and Shirley Williams, are supporting this Government but am also certain that they will be there to point out, when needed, when true socially liberal beliefs have to be centre stage.
We’re re-shaping British politics for good.
It must be effective for all of those millions of people who rely on our party to promote freedom, fairness and the need to be green.
UPDATE (04/12/’10): I am, of course, aware that the SDP continues, as a regional/local party, in parts of the country.
When I talk of its ‘death’ in this post, I’m referring to when it ceased to be a national political force.