Tudor Jones
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Liberalism within the Alliance
Denting the mould: 1979–83
in The uneven path of British Liberalism
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Following the 1979 General Election, the Liberal Party engaged in a public examination of its values, focusing on the role of the State within the economy. This issue was subsequently taken up by former Labour MP Roy Jenkins in his 1979 Dimbleby Lecture, where he called for a system balancing free-market innovation with controls on employment and redistribution. Liberal leader David Steel approached Jenkins about establishing a social-democratic political organisation that could work in alliance with the Liberals, an idea that received a boost in 1981 with the Gang of Four’s Limehouse Declaration and the subsequent formation of the Social Democratic Party. A Liberal/SDP Alliance followed later that year. In the 1983 General Election, it won a substantial share of the popular vote, just a little less than Labour. But as before, the first-past-the-post system meant only a modest gain in seats, and the Alliance did not succeed in breaking the mould of two-party politics.

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The uneven path of British Liberalism

From Jo Grimond to Brexit


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