Bill Rodgers, Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank
|The Right Honourable|
The Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank
|Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords|
19 December 1997 – 7 June 2001
|Preceded by||The Lord Jenkins of Hillhead|
|Succeeded by||The Baroness Williams of Crosby|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Defence|
14 June 1979 – 8 December 1980
|Preceded by||Fred Mulley|
|Succeeded by||Brynmor John|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Transport|
4 May 1979 – 14 June 1979
|Preceded by||Norman Fowler|
|Succeeded by||Albert Booth|
|Secretary of State for Transport|
10 September 1976 – 4 May 1979
|Prime Minister||Jim Callaghan|
|Preceded by||John Gilbert (Minister of State)|
|Succeeded by||Norman Fowler (Minister of State)|
|Minister of State for Defence|
4 March 1974 – 10 September 1976
|Preceded by||George Younger|
|Succeeded by||John Gilbert|
|Member of Parliament|
5 April 1962 – 9 June 1983
|Preceded by||George Chetwynd|
|Succeeded by||Constituency abolished|
28 October 1928|
Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Labour (Before 1981)|
Social Democrats (1981–1988)
Liberal Democrats (1988–present)
|Alma mater||Magdalen College, Oxford|
William Thomas Rodgers, Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank, PC (born Liverpool, Lancashire, 28 October 1928), usually known as William Rodgers but also often known as Bill Rodgers, was one of the "Gang of Four" of senior British Labour Party politicians who defected to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He subsequently helped to lead the SDP into the merger that formed the Liberal Democrats, and later served as that party's leader in the House of Lords.
Rodgers was educated at Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool and at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was general secretary of the Fabian Society 1953–1960 and a councillor on St. Marylebone Borough Council 1958–62. He also fought a byelection at Bristol West in 1957.
Member of Parliament
Rodgers first entered the British House of Commons at a by-election in 1962, and served in Labour Governments under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, becoming Secretary of State for Transport in Callaghan's Cabinet in 1976. Within the Labour Party he was known for being a highly effective organiser around centrist causes such as multilateral nuclear disarmament and Britain's membership of the EEC. He held the post until Labour's defeat in the 1979 general election. From 1979 to 1981 he was Shadow Defence Secretary. With Labour drifting to the left, Rodgers joined Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins and David Owen in forming the Social Democratic Party in 1981. He led the negotiations on the split of seats with the Liberals for the SDP side and his decision to go public on the difficulties encountered has often been blamed for starting the Alliance's slide in the opinion polls. On the other hand, only three seats eventually saw rival Liberal and Alliance candidates in the 1983 General Election so his tactics were in that sense successful.
In September 1982, Rodgers stood to become President of the SDP, but took only 19.4% of the vote, and a distant second place behind Williams.
Gang of Four
At the 1983 General Election the SDP–Liberal Alliance won many votes but few seats, and Rodgers lost his seat of Stockton North (known as Stockton-on-Tees before the boundary changes of 1983). He remained outside Parliament, unsuccessfully contesting Milton Keynes for the SDP in the 1987 General Election, until he was created a life peer as Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank, of Kentish Town in the London Borough of Camden on 12 February 1992. During that interval he was Director-General of the Royal Institute of British Architects and also became Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority.
In 1987 Rodgers was chairman of the successful "Yes to Unity" campaign within the SDP in favour of merger with the Liberal Party. He became the Liberal Democrats' Lords spokesman on Home Affairs in 1994 and was its leader in the Lords between 1997 and 2001. His autobiography was titled Fourth Among Equals, reflecting his position as the least prominent of the SDP's founders.
- Berrington, Hugh (1984). Change In British Politics. London: Frank Cass and Company. p. 83. ISBN 0203013271.
- "No. 52836". The London Gazette. 17 February 1992. p. 2711.
- "Oral history: Rodgers, William (b.1928)". The History of Parliament. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
- "Lord Rodgers of Quarrybank interviewed by Mike Greenwood". British Library Sound Archive. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
- Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank profile at the site of Liberal Democrats
- Recent Speeches in the Lords
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by William Rodgers
|Party political offices|
| General Secretary of the Fabian Society
| Chair of the Fabian Society
The Lord Jenkins of Hillhead
| Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords
The Baroness Williams of Crosby
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament
as Minister of State for Transport
| Secretary of State for Transport
as Minister of State for Transport
| Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
| Shadow Secretary of State for Defence