Social Democratic Party (UK, 1990–present)
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (January 2010)|
|Social Democratic Party (SDP)|
|Leader||Jack Holmes (1990-1991)
John Bates (1991-2008)
Peter Johnson (2008-present)
|Headquarters||69, Oakdale Road,
|Colours||Blue and Red|
|Politics of the United Kingdom
The Social Democratic Party is a small political party in the United Kingdom formed in 1990. It traces its origin to the Social Democratic Party that was formed in 1981 by a group of dissident Labour Party politicians, all Members of Parliament (MPs) or former MPs: Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams, who became known as the "Gang of Four". This party merged with the Liberal Party in 1988 to form the Liberal Democrats, but Owen, two other MPs and a minority of party activists formed a breakaway group immediately after with the same name. That party dissolved itself in 1990, but a number of activists met and voted to continue the party in defiance of its National Executive, leading to the creation of a new Social Democratic Party.
The party is listed on the Register of Political Parties for England, Scotland and Wales. John Bates is the party president. According to the accounts filed with the Electoral Commission for the year ending 2008 it had 41 members.
From Bootle to Neath
The second incarnation of the SDP decided to dissolve itself after a disastrous result in the Bootle by-election of 1990. However, a number of SDP activists met and voted to continue the party in defiance of the National Executive. The continuing group was led by Jack Holmes, whose defeat by the Official Monster Raving Loony Party at the Bootle by-election had caused the party's disgrace.
The much reduced SDP decided to fight the Neath by-election in 1991. With Holmes serving as the party's election agent, the SDP candidate finished fifth with 5.3% of the vote – only 174 votes behind the fourth placed Liberal Democrats. (The SDP candidate left the party and joined the LibDems shortly thereafter.) The Neath result proved that a greatly reduced SDP could continue to be a viable party without David Owen. The party subsequently won a number of seats on the Neath-Port Talbot County Borough Council.
Since 1992, the SDP has concentrated on campaigning at local level and on trying to build up support again largely from scratch. In more recent years, it has held a few council seats in Yorkshire and South Wales.
Bridlington Central and Old Town ward remained a hotspot of SDP activity with Ray Allerston holding a council seat there from 1987. He was eventually joined in holding a second seat by his wife, Catherine Allerston.
Meanwhile, in Tunstall Ward in Richmondshire, Tony Pelton and Brian Smith were elected in 1999.
A third hotspot consisted of SDP Councillors Jeff Dinham, John Sullivan and Anthony Taylor in Aberavon Ward, Neath Port Talbot.
In the 2003 elections, Tony Pelton was re-elected, but Brian Smith was not.
In 2005, Christine Allerston became Mayor of Bridlington for a year, but stood down before the 2007 local elections, in which her husband Ray Allerston was re-elected (and made Mayor) and David Metcalf (SDP) picked up the vacant seat. All three Aberavon councillors remained in place, with Anthony Taylor becoming local Mayor. However, Tony Pelton in Tunstall stood down before the 2007 locals, ending SDP representation there.
In 2008 Jackie Foster was elected in Bridlington.
2012 was a poor year, with Councillors Dinham and Sullivan losing their seats in Aberavon, leaving only Anthony Taylor in position. Thus only four SDP councillors remained in the country.
In early 2014 David Metcalf stepped down due to ill health. He died soon after. This left just Allerston, Foster and Taylor in post.
In September 2014, Ray Allerston died, leaving just two SDP councillors. A by-election was held on 27 November, in which the SDP defeated by UKIP.