The British Political Tradition in Crisis

  • Geoffrey Lee Williams
  • Alan Lee Williams


Thursday, 26 March 1981, marked what was headlined to be the dawning of a new and exciting era in British political history. The well-publicised birth of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) on that day constituted the first democratic national party to be launched in Britain for fifty years, Sir Oswald Mosley’s New Party (NP) being the last real attempt to create a new party in 1931 and Sir Richard Ackland’s 1944 Commonwealth Party which emerged during the Second World War being a more recent attempt to challenge the existing parties. There was an air of genuine excitement and drama enveloping the new party which encapsulated the belief that it would palpably change the nature and style of British politics:

One thing is clear. 1981 was the right year for a breakout. It was as if all that had happened in the preceding years was but a preparation, building up towards the denouement of 1981 and the creation of the new party. Events seemed to conspire not only to give birth to the party but to give it the greatest chance of healthy life. If it doesn’t survive and flourish it could not have wished for better growing conditions.1


Trade Union Labour Party Major Party Centre Ground Conservative Party 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Peter Zentner, Social Democracy in Britain: Must Labour Lose?. John Martin, 1982, p. 7.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alfred Sherman, ‘Why the Mould is Still Intact’, The Times. 28 August 1984. p. 10.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ian Bradley, Breaking the Mould. 1981, p. 19.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    David Marquand, ‘Inquest on a Movement: Labour’s Defeat and its Consequences’, Encounter. 1979.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Denis Kavanagh and Bill Jones, British Politics Today. 1983, p. 29.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    David Butler and Donald Stokes, Political Change in Britain, Macmillan, 1974, p. 30.Google Scholar
  7. 31.
    Betty Matthews, Britain and The Socialist Revolution. C.P. Publications, 1973.Google Scholar
  8. 34.
    John P. Mackintosh, ‘The Future of the Labour Party’, The Political Quarterly. Dec. 1972.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Geoffrey Lee Williams and Alan Lee Williams 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Lee Williams
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alan Lee Williams
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.University of SurreyUK
  2. 2.The Institute of Economic and Political Studies (INSTEP)CambridgeUK
  3. 3.Toynbee HallUK
  4. 4.Parliament for HornchurchUK

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