Social Democratic Party (UK, 1990–present)

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This article is about the UK Social Democratic Party which has existed since 1990. For other UK parties of this name, see Social Democratic Party.
Social Democratic Party (SDP)
Leader Jack Holmes (1990–1991)
John Bates (1991–2008)
Peter Johnson (2008–present)
Founded 1990
Headquarters 69, Oakdale Road,
Birmingham,
B36 8AU.
Ideology Euroscepticism
Localism
Social democracy
Political position Centre-left
Colours Blue and Red
Local government[1]
0 / 21,871
Website
http://www.socialdemocraticparty.co.uk/

The Social Democratic Party is a small political party in the United Kingdom. As of 2016, it has no elected councillors or parliamentarians. 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 some 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. According to the accounts filed with the Electoral Commission for the year ending 2008 it had 41 members.[2]

From Bootle to Neath[edit]

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 end.

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 joined the LibDems shortly thereafter.)[3] 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.

1992–early 2016[edit]

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 on East Riding of Yorkshire Council remained a hotspot of SDP activity with Ray Allerston holding a council seat there from 1987. From 2003 to 2007 he was joined by his wife, Catherine Allerston.[4]

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 onto Bridlington Town Council.

In 2012, Councillors Dinham and Sullivan lost their seats in Aberavon, leaving only Anthony Taylor in position.

In early 2014 David Metcalf stepped down due to ill health. He died soon after. This left just Allerston, Foster and Taylor in post. Ray Allerston died on 16 September 2014.[5][6] A by-election was held in his ward on 27 November, which was won by the UK Independence Party.[7]

The SDP fielded two candidates in the 2015 general election.

Jackie Foster remained an SDP councillor on Bridlington Town Council after the 2015 local elections,[8] but as of 2016 is listed as a Labour councillor.[9] Anthony Taylor is sitting on Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council as an "Independent Democrat",[10] but remains listed on the party website as the only current SDP councillor.[11]

In August 2015, Solihull's Green councillor, Mike Sheriden, defected to the SDP,[12] taking their councillor tally up to one again. However, when he stood for re-election in May 2016, Sheridan received 17 votes (0.83%) and lost his seat.

The party's political orientation has drifted towards Euroscepticism, despite the origins of the first SDP being as a pro-EU counterweight to Labour's disavowal of the European Community. The SDP style themselves on their website as "The Socialist, anti-European Union alternative to UKIP and the pro-European Labour Party",[citation needed] stating that "The SDP would repeal the European Communities Act 1972 [and] ensure sovereign powers of government are returned, enabling Britain to be governed in accordance with Social Democratic Party principles and policies."[13]

Re-emergence in 2016[edit]

Under the leadership of Chairman Peter Johnson the SDP is Eurosceptic [14] and Johnson led the party in campaigning for a Brexit vote in the 2016 Referendum on E.U. membership. The party's profile was further boosted when original SDP founder Lord David Owen took a public platform during the 2016 Referendum campaign to promote Brexit, urging voters to ignore "voices of doom".[15]

Several factors have stirred recent interest in the Social Democratic Party, resulting in membership growth: the Referendum campaign explored, among other things, aspects of social democracy;[16] division over the leadership of the Labour party [17] and concerns that UKIP is too far right for many Eurosceptics [18]

Reflecting on the political landscape and moved by a resurgence in membership, Chairman Peter Johnson has unveiled plans to contest more by-elections nationally (including Tooting) [19] and target several seats in Scotland’s 2017 Council elections.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Edkins, Keith (11 January 2016). "Local Council Political Compositions". Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 5, 2006. Retrieved November 28, 2005. 
  4. ^ "Bridlington Central and Old Town Ward — East Riding". Local Elections Archive Project. Andrew Teale. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 27, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Former Bridlington mayor Ray Allerston dies". 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Councillors – Bridlington Town Council". bridlington.gov.uk. 
  9. ^ "Councillors – Bridlington Town Council". bridlington.gov.uk. 
  10. ^ "Councillor details - Councillor Anthony Taylor: NPT CBC". 
  11. ^ http://www.socialdemocraticparty.co.uk/councillors.html
  12. ^ http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/solihull-green-partys-first-councillor-9872825
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 9, 2015. Retrieved July 4, 2015. 
  14. ^ http://www.socialdemocraticparty.co.uk/sdpprinciples.html
  15. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36335122
  16. ^ http://www.globalresearch.ca/after-brexit-a-social-democratic-re-founding-of-europe/5533531
  17. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/23/jeremy-corbyn-tells-his-party-to-stop-the-abuse-as-labour-civil/
  18. ^ http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/693414/Ukip-leadership-election-Suzanne-Evans-Lisa-Duffy-Nigel-Farage-split-Arron-Banks
  19. ^ http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/200326/elections_voting_and_registration/2181/election_of_a_borough_councillor_in_the_tooting_ward

External links[edit]