Friday, March 01, 2019

My first acquaintance with Social Democrats

Embed from Getty Images

As I warned might be the case, The Independent Group is looking to replace the Liberal Democrats rather than do a deal with us.

Which means there may not be much of a market for memories of the early days of the Alliance.

Still, here are my recollections of the first time I met the SDP.

The first parliamentary by-election I worked in was Birmingham Northfield in October 1982. Until a few months before I had been working in the city, but by then I was back in Market Harborough between jobs so I had time on my hands

I travelled to Birmingham and ended up at the house of Roy Lewthwaite, who had been the Liberal candidate for the seat in 1979, somewhere out near Bromsgrove.

The job to be done was stuffing personalised letters into envelopes and a party agent kept us going for hours with tales of rough politics in Dorset.

When I say "us", I mean a roomful of Liberals. Next door there was a room of Social Democrats.

It happened that the letters did not fit the envelopes very well. I think one was an International size and the other an Imperial.

Someone, I fear it may have been me, made the joke about having Liberal letters and Social Democrat envelopes. At which someone came in to ask us not to make jokes like that because “it might upset the Social Democrats”..

There was a young SDP member who was friendly, When one of the Liberals said he came from Southampton, the young Social Democrat asked if he knew Bob Mitchell. Mitchell had been elected as Labour MP for Southampton Itchen and then joined the SDP.

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice"Yes," came the reply, "I fought him at the last election."

A little research shows that the Liberal in question was John Pindar, who is still around in the Liberal Democrats today.

No comments: