Friday, January 27, 2006

If the Gang of Four had stayed with Labour, would David Owen have become PM?

The 25th anniversary of the Limehouse Declaration this week has recalled to mind a conversation I had with Dr David Owen at a lunch in Westminster a few years back.

Asked whether he thought that he would have become Prime Minister had he stayed in the Labour Party, he replied: "Oh, there isn't a shadow of doubt about that."

You have to admire the man's self-belief, but I think in this instance it was misplaced. Owen may have been a Blairite before Blair - but Blairism's time had not yet come.

I look at the history and legacy of the SDP in greater detail in this column.

1 comment:

RedEye said...

No, because even though the 83 boundary changes saw the boundary changes of Owen's seat drawn (notionally) massively in Labour's favour, he'd probably, nonetheless, have lost the seat under Labour colours, just as Labour lost other defence-related seats such as Barrow on Furness (not regained until 1992, the first GE after Labour had ditched the electoral albatross of unilateral nuclear disarmament).

Even if he'd held Devonport, he'd probably have suffered (just as other members of the Solidarity and Manifesto Groups, such as Peter Shore, did) in the 87 Shadow Cabinet elections, which saw the soft-left Kinnockites/Tribunites advance still further.

Blair himself was from this wing of the party.