David Martin Scott Steel, Baron Steel of Aikwood, KT, KBE, PC (born 31 March 1938) is a British Liberal Democrat politician. He began his career in the Liberal Party, serving as the party's final leader from 1976 to 1988. His tenure spanned the duration of the alliance with the Social Democratic Party, which began in 1981 and concluded with the formation of the Liberal Democrats in 1988. Steel served as a Member of the UK Parliament from 1965 to 1997 and as a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) from 1999 to 2003, during which time he was the parliament's Presiding Officer. He has been a member of the House of Lords since 1997 as a life peer.
The Lord Steel of Aikwood
Official portrait of Lord Steel of Aikwood
|1st Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament|
12 May 1999 – 7 May 2003
|Preceded by||Office created|
|Succeeded by||George Reid|
|Leader of the Liberal Democrats|
3 March 1988 – 16 July 1988
Serving with Robert Maclennan
|Preceded by||Himself (as Leader of the Liberal Party)|
Robert Maclennan (as Leader of the Social Democratic Party)
|Succeeded by||Paddy Ashdown|
|Leader of the Liberal Party|
7 July 1976 – 16 July 1988
|Preceded by||Jo Grimond (acting)|
|Succeeded by||Paddy Ashdown (as Leader of the Social and Liberal Democrats)|
|Liberal Chief Whip|
18 June 1970 – 7 July 1976
|Preceded by||Eric Lubbock|
|Succeeded by||Cyril Smith|
|Member of the Scottish Parliament |
6 May 1999 – 31 March 2003
|Preceded by||Constituency created|
|Succeeded by||Colin Fox|
|Member of Parliament |
for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale
11 June 1983 – 1 May 1997
|Preceded by||Constituency created|
|Succeeded by||Michael Moore|
|Member of Parliament |
for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles
24 March 1965 – 11 June 1983
|Preceded by||Charles Donaldson|
|Succeeded by||Constituency abolished|
|Member of the House of Lords|
|Assumed office |
6 June 1997
David Martin Scott Steel
31 March 1938
Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland
|Political party||Liberal Democrats (Since 1988)|
|Liberal (Before 1988)|
Judith MacGregor (m. 1962)
|Alma mater||University of Edinburgh|
Steel was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, the son of a Church of Scotland minister also called David Steel, who would later serve as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. He was brought up in Scotland and Kenya, and educated at Dumbarton Academy; James Gillespies Boys' School, Edinburgh; the Prince of Wales School, Nairobi; and George Watson's College, Edinburgh, followed by the University of Edinburgh, where he first took an active part in Liberal politics, and was elected Senior President of the Students' Representative Council, and graduated in Law. Steel was president of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement campaign from 1966 to 1970.
After university, Steel worked for the Scottish Liberal Party and then the BBC before being elected to the House of Commons as the MP for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles at the 1965 by-election, becoming the "Baby of the House". He represented this seat until 1983, when he was elected in Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, a new constituency covering much of the same territory.
As an MP, he was responsible for introducing, as a Private Member's Bill, the Abortion Act 1967, and has argued for greater liberalisation of this legislation in recent years (see Abortion in the United Kingdom). He also became the Liberal Party's spokesman on employment, and in 1970 its Chief Whip.
In 1976, after the downfall of Jeremy Thorpe, and a short period in which Jo Grimond acted as caretaker leader, he won the Liberal leadership by a wide margin over John Pardoe. At only 38 years old, he was one of the youngest party leaders in British history. In March 1977, he led the Liberals into the "Lib–Lab pact." The Liberals agreed to support the Labour government, whose narrow majority since the general election in October 1974 had been gradually eroded and left them as a minority government, in power in return for a degree of prior consultation on policy. This pact lasted until August 1978.
Steel has been criticised both then and since for not driving a harder bargain; the opposing case is that the continuing scandal surrounding Thorpe left the party in a very weak state to face an early general election and Steel was wise to buy himself some time from Prime Minister James Callaghan. At the same time, the growing unpopularity of the Labour government impaired the Liberals' performance, and Steel's first election as leader, the 1979 general election, saw a net two-seat loss for the Liberals.
In 1981, a group of Labour moderates left their party to form the Social Democratic Party. They were joined by the former Labour deputy leader Roy Jenkins, who had previously had discussions with Steel about joining the Liberals. Under Jenkins' leadership, the SDP joined the Liberals in the SDP–Liberal Alliance. In its early days, the Alliance showed so much promise that for a time it looked like the Liberals would be part of a government for the first time in over half a century. Opinion polls were showing Alliance support as high as 50% by late 1981. Steel was so confident that he felt able to tell delegates at the Liberal Assembly that year, "Go back to your constituencies, and prepare for government!"
Steel had genuine hopes at that stage that the Alliance would win the next general election and form a coalition government. However, the beginning of the Falklands War the following spring radically shifted the attitude of the electorate, and the Conservatives regained the lead in polls from the Alliance by a wide margin.
The Alliance secured more than 25% of the vote at the 1983 general election, almost as many votes as Labour. However, its support was spread out across the country, and was not concentrated in enough areas to translate into seats under the first past the post system. This left the Alliance with only 23 seats—17 for the Liberals and six for the SDP. Steel's dreams of a big political breakthrough were left unfulfilled.
Shortly afterwards David Owen replaced Jenkins as leader of the SDP, and the troubled leadership of the "Two Davids" was inaugurated. It was never an easy relationship—Steel's political sympathies were well to the left of Owen's. Owen had a marked antipathy towards the Liberals, though he respected Steel's prior loyalty to his own party contrasting it with Jenkins' lack of interest in preserving the SDP's independence. The relationship was also mercilessly satirised by Spitting Image which portrayed Steel as a squeaky voiced midget, literally in the pocket of Owen. Steel has often stated that he feels this portrayal seriously damaged his image. This portrayal of Steel as weaker than Owen was also present in other satires, such as Private Eye's Battle for Britain strip. The relationship finally fell apart during the 1987 general election when the two contradicted each other, both on defence policy and on which party they would do a deal with in the event of a hung parliament.
Steel was convinced the answer to these difficulties was a single party with a single leader, and was the chief proponent of the 1988 merger between the Liberals and the SDP. He emerged victorious in persuading both parties to accept merger in the teeth of opposition from Owen and radical Liberals such as Michael Meadowcroft, but badly mishandled the issuing of a joint policy document. Steel had often been criticised for a lack of interest in policy, and it appeared he had agreed to the document – drawn up by politically naive SDP advisers – without reading it. His colleagues rejected it immediately and demanded a redraft, fatally wounding his authority.
Steel was briefly joint interim leader of the Social and Liberal Democrats (as the new party was at first called) in the run-up to elections in which he did not stand, before becoming the party's foreign affairs spokesman. In 1989, he accepted an invitation from Italian Liberals to stand for the European Parliament in that year's elections as a Pan-European gesture. Although not elected, he polled very well. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1990. He became President of the Liberal International in 1994, holding the office until 1996.
Steel retired from the House of Commons at the 1997 general election and was made a life peer as Baron Steel of Aikwood, of Ettrick Forest in the Scottish Borders on 6 June 1997. He campaigned for Scottish devolution, and in 1999 was elected to the Scottish Parliament as a Liberal Democrat MSP for Lothians. He became the first Presiding Officer (speaker) of the Scottish Parliament on 12 May 1999. In this role, he used the style "Sir David Steel", despite his peerage. He suspended his Lib Dem membership for the duration of his tenure as Presiding Officer; that post, like the Speaker of the UK House of Commons, is strictly nonpartisan. He stepped down as an MSP when the parliament was dissolved for the 2003 election, but remained as Presiding Officer until he had supervised the election of his successor George Reid on 7 May of that year. He was appointed Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in both 2003 and 2004.
Steel married fellow law graduate Judith Mary MacGregor in October 1962. They resided at Aikwood Tower in the Borders of Scotland, and have two sons and a daughter. They also have nine grandchildren.
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles
1965 – 1983
|New constituency|| Member of Parliament for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale
1983 – 1997
| Baby of the House
Otto Graf Lambsdorff
| President of the Liberal International
|Party political offices|
| Liberal Party Chief Whip
| Leader of the Liberal Party
|Party merged with SDP|
|New political party|| Leader of the Social and Liberal Democrats
with Robert Maclennan
|New creation|| Member of the Scottish Parliament for Lothians
| Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
| Rector of the University of Edinburgh
The Stockton-on-Tees by-election, 1962 was a parliamentary by-election held for the House of Commons constituency of Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham on 5 April 1962. It was the by-election at which Bill Rodgers, a future Cabinet minister and member of the "Gang of Four" of senior Labour politicians who defected to form the SDP, entered Parliament. Rodgers subsequently helped to lead the SDP into the merger that formed the Liberal Democrats, and later served as that party's leader in the House of Lords. In the circumstances it is not without irony that Rodgers remembers future Liberal leader David Steel, then not yet an MP, loudly booing the result of the election at Stockton from the floor of the count.1965 Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles by-election
The Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles by-election was significant in that it led to the election of David Steel, who went on to lead the Liberal Party, to the British House of Commons for the first time. As such it was a milestone in the revival of that party's political fortunes from their nadir in the 1950s.1976 Liberal Party (UK) leadership election
The 1976 Liberal Party (UK) leadership election was called following the resignation of Jeremy Thorpe in the wake of allegations which would eventually lead to Mr. Thorpe's trial and acquittal for conspiracy to murder in 1979.
There were two candidates, David Steel and John Pardoe, who were elected by a ballot of an electoral college made up of representatives of the various constituency associations, with their vote "weighted" by the strength of the Liberal vote at the previous general election. This electoral system was devised by Michael Steed, and this election proved to be the only time it was ever used to elect a Liberal leader.
The election was won by David Steel, who served as leader of the Liberal Party until merger with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1988, forming the Liberal Democrats. David Steel later served as interim leader of the Liberal Democrats (jointly with Bob Maclennan of the SDP) for the duration of the 1988 leadership election which eventually elected Paddy Ashdown as the new party's first permanent leader.1978 London local elections
Local government elections took place in London, and some other parts of the United Kingdom on Thursday 4 May 1978. Ward changes took place in every borough (except Enfield) which increased the total number of councillors by 41 from 1,867 to 1,908.
All London borough council seats were up for election. The previous Borough elections in London were in 1974.1979 United Kingdom general election
The 1979 United Kingdom general election was held on 3 May 1979 to elect 635 members to the British House of Commons. The Conservative Party, led by Margaret Thatcher, ousted the incumbent Labour government of James Callaghan with a parliamentary majority of 43 seats. The election was the first of four consecutive election victories for the Conservative Party, and Thatcher became the United Kingdom's and Europe's first elected female head of government.
The previous parliamentary term had begun in October 1974, when Harold Wilson led Labour to a majority of three seats, but within eighteen months he had resigned as Prime Minister to be succeeded by James Callaghan, and within a year the government's narrow parliamentary majority had gone. Callaghan had made agreements with the Liberals, the Ulster Unionists, as well as the Scottish and Welsh nationalists in order to remain in power. However, on 28 March 1979 following the defeat of the Scottish devolution referendum, Thatcher tabled a motion of no confidence in Callaghan's Labour government, which was passed by just one vote (311 to 310), triggering a general election five months before the end of the government's term.
The Labour campaign was hampered by the series of industrial disputes and strikes during the winter of 1978–79, known as the Winter of Discontent, and the party focused its campaign on support for the National Health Service and full employment. After intense media speculation, Callaghan had announced early in the autumn of 1978 that a general election would not take place that year having received private polling data which suggested a parliamentary majority was unlikely.The Conservative campaign employed the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi and pledged to control inflation as well as curbing the power of the trade unions. The Liberal Party was damaged by allegations that its former leader Jeremy Thorpe had been involved in a homosexual affair, and had conspired to murder his former lover. The Liberals were now being led by David Steel, meaning that all three major parties entered the election with a new leader.
The election saw a 5.2% swing from Labour to the Conservatives, the largest swing since the 1945 election, which Clement Attlee won for Labour. Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, and Callaghan was replaced as Labour leader by Michael Foot in 1980. Results for the election were broadcast live on the BBC, and presented by David Dimbleby and Robin Day, with Robert McKenzie on the "Swingometer", and further analysis provided by David Butler. It was the first general election to feature Rick Wakeman's song "Arthur" on the BBC's coverage.
Future Prime Minister John Major entered Parliament in this election. Jeremy Thorpe, Shirley Williams and Barbara Castle all left Parliament as a result of this election.1987 United Kingdom general election
The 1987 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 11 June 1987, to elect 650 members to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. The election was the third consecutive general election victory for the Conservative Party, and second landslide under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, who became the first Prime Minister since the Earl of Liverpool in 1820 to lead a party into three successive electoral victories.
The Conservatives ran a campaign focusing on lower taxes, a strong economy and strong defence. They also emphasised that unemployment had fallen below the 3 million mark for the first time since 1981, and inflation was standing at 4%, its lowest level for some twenty years. The tabloid media also had strong support for the Conservative Party, particularly The Sun, which ran anti-Labour articles with headlines such as "Why I'm backing Kinnock, by Stalin".
The Labour Party, led by Neil Kinnock, was slowly moving towards a more centrist policy platform. The main aim of the Labour Party was simply to re-establish itself as the main progressive centre-left alternative to the Conservatives, after the rise of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) forced Labour onto the defensive. Indeed, the Labour Party succeeded in doing so at this general election. The Alliance between the SDP and the Liberal Party was renewed but co-leaders David Owen and David Steel could not agree whether to support either major party in the event of a hung parliament.
The Conservatives were returned to government, having suffered a net loss of only 21 seats, leaving them with 376 MPs and a second landslide majority of 102. Labour succeeded in resisting the challenge by the SDP–Liberal Alliance to become the main opposition. Moreover, Labour managed to increase its vote share in Scotland, Wales and the North of England. Yet Labour still returned only 229 MPs to Westminster, and in certain London constituencies which Labour had held before the election, the Conservatives actually made gains.
The election was a disappointment for the Alliance, who saw its vote share fall and suffered a net loss of one seat as well as former SDP leader Roy Jenkins losing his seat. This led to the two parties eventually merging completely to become the Liberal Democrats. In Northern Ireland, the main unionist parties maintained their alliance in opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, however the Ulster Unionists lost two seats to the Social Democratic and Labour Party.
The 1987 election is the last to date in which the Conservatives won the popular vote in a general election by more than 10 points and the last time they held more than 336 seats in the House of Commons, and the 49th Parliament is the last time a Conservative government has lasted a full term with an overall majority of seats in Parliament.
The election night was covered live on the BBC and presented by David Dimbleby, Peter Snow and Sir Robin Day. It was also broadcast on ITV and presented by Sir Alastair Burnet, Peter Sissons and Alastair Stewart.
The 1987 general election saw the election of the first Afro-Caribbean members of Parliament: Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Bernie Grant. MPs leaving Parliament as a result of this election included former Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan, Keith Joseph, James Prior, Ian Mikardo, Roy Jenkins, former Health Minister Enoch Powell and Clement Freud.1988 Social and Liberal Democrats leadership election
The 1988 Social and Liberal Democrats leadership election was called in the United Kingdom following the formation of the then Social and Liberal Democrats (later shortening their name to "Liberal Democrats"). It was intended to replace the two interim leaders, David Steel and Robert Maclennan, with a single figurehead better able to represent both the former members of the Liberal Party and of the Social Democratic Party.
There were two candidates and all members of the party were balloted using the Alternative Vote preference system. The election was won by Paddy Ashdown, who served as leader until his stepping down in 1999. The campaign occurred in a party which was still coping with the merger and saw a vituperative attack on Ashdown in a letter written by Alex Carlile, a Beith-supporting MP.Campaign bus
A campaign bus (battle bus in the UK) is a bus used as both a vehicle and a center of operations during a political campaign, whether for a specific candidate, a political party, or a political cause. A campaign bus can also transport members of the press covering a candidate's campaign. In the UK, they are shared by reporters, political commentators and a politician, usually a party leader, to give them all access to each other as they traverse the country making speeches and other engagements during a general election campaign. In theory, the mutual advantage is that journalists get close access to politicians, and politicians can convey their message more directly to those reporting them. The modern use of campaign buses is often calculated to bring to mind whistle stop train tours that political candidates had historically used to reach large numbers of voters while campaigning by train.
The use of the campaign bus runs at least as early as the 1940s, when The New Republic reported that 1948 presidential contender Thomas E. Dewey was "waylaid... in his campaign bus" by a charmed female admirer who "told him she would vote for him because he was 'so pink and pretty'". John F. Kennedy's "Alliance for Progress" theme was coined on board a campaign bus travelling through Texas in 1960. Candidates may provide interviews to the press or relax on the campaign bus. In 1972, the presidential campaign of Senator Ed Muskie was damaged when a reporter wrote that Muskie's wife, Jane Muskie, "tried to cheer up a campaign bus with the flippant suggestion that everybody swap risque stories"."Battle buses" were first seen in the UK in the late 1970s. Before that, reporters followed party leaders in separate cars. The battle bus was a significant feature of the 1987 UK general election as David Owen and David Steel of the SDP-Liberal Alliance each crisscrossed the country in matching battle buses, each painted bright yellow.Some buses may have names relating to the general theme of the campaign; John McCain traveled aboard a campaign bus named the "Straight Talk Express" during his 2000 presidential campaign.
Campaign buses are used in many countries. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known popularly as Lula, used this method of campaigning extensively, and was elected President of Brazil. Over the course of his campaign, "Lula traveled to 350 cities and towns in twenty-three states, in separate campaign bus tours". In the United Kingdom, John Major "adopted the old-fashioned practice of addressing the public from a 'soap box' erected outside his campaign bus". Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas also used a campaign bus to great effect during his 1988 campaign for President of Mexico, which although unsuccessful led to the downfall of single-party rule in Mexico. In Canada party leaders often lease coaches with sides decorated with the party name or their own names. The buses are used to travel between destinations that do not require air travel. Members of the media and other campaign officials may travel along with the party leader.ChEMBL
ChEMBL or ChEMBLdb is a manually curated chemical database of bioactive molecules with drug-like properties.
It is maintained by the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), based at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, UK.
The database, originally known as StARlite, was developed by a biotechnology company called Inpharmatica Ltd. later acquired by Galapagos NV. The data was acquired for EMBL in 2008 with an award from The Wellcome Trust, resulting in the creation of the ChEMBL chemogenomics group at EMBL-EBI, led by John Overington.David Steel (Royal Navy officer)
Vice Admiral Sir David George Steel (born 6 April 1961) is a Royal Navy officer who, until 10 March 2015, served as Second Sea Lord.David Steel (businessman)
Sir David Edward Charles Steel DSO MC (29 November 1916 – 9 August 2004), was a British businessman, chairman of BP from 1975 to 1981 and of the Wellcome Trust.Steel was educated at Rugby School, and University College, Oxford, where he received a bachelor's degree in law.He was the son of Gerald Steel, private secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty throughout the First World War (and succeeded Winston Churchill in the job), and later general manager of the British Aluminium Company.Steel was a tank commander in the Second World War, and was awarded a DSO and an MC.At the end of 1974, he succeeded Sir Eric Drake as chairman of BP.David Steel (minister)
David Steel (5 October 1910 – 11 November 2002) was a Church of Scotland minister.David Stewart (footballer, born 1947)
David Steel Stewart (born Glasgow, 11 March 1947 – 13 November 2018) was a Scottish footballer, who played as a goalkeeper. After winning the Scottish Junior Cup with Kilsyth Rangers he was signed by Ally MacLeod's Ayr United for whom he played in two senior cup semi-finals. He then signed for Don Revie at Leeds United where he played when Leeds lost 2–0 to Bayern Munich in the 1975 European Cup Final. He signed for Ron Atkinson at West Bromwich Albion but didn't play for their first team. He then won promotion to the top flight of English football in his first season at John Toshack's Swansea City. Stewart saved a penalty in his one appearance for the Scotland national football team, a 1–0 defeat in East Germany in 1977.Eric Drake
Sir Arthur Eric Courtney Drake (29 November 1910 – 31 October 1996), was a British businessman, chairman of BP from 1969 to 1975.
Drake was born in Rochester, Kent, the son of a doctor, and educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he received a bachelor's degree in law.In 1975, he was by succeeded Sir David Steel as chairman of BP.Liberal Democrat frontbench team
The Liberal Democrats are a political party in the United Kingdom. While in opposition, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats appoints a frontbench team of Members of Parliament (MPs), Peers, Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and Members of the National Assembly for Wales (AMs), to speak for the party on different issues. Their areas of responsibility broadly corresponded to those of Government ministers. The frontbench team is divided into departmental sub-units, the principal ones being the economy, foreign policy and home affairs. Sometimes the frontbench team consists of more than just the principal positions.Michael Moore (British politician)
Michael Kevin Moore (born 3 June 1965) is a British Liberal Democrat politician.
Born in Northern Ireland, but largely raised in Scotland, he qualified as a chartered accountant and worked as a researcher to the prominent Liberal Democrat politician, David Steel. At the 1997 general election, Moore succeeded Steel as the Liberal Democrat MP for the Scottish Borders constituency of Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk from 2005). He joined the Liberal Democrat Frontbench Team in 2005, and held many portfolios, including Defence, Foreign Affairs, International Development and Northern Ireland & Scotland (joint).
Following the 2010 general election, and the formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, the cabinet post of Scottish Secretary was given to the Liberal Democrats, initially Danny Alexander. However following the resignation of Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws a month later, Alexander took his role, and Moore was appointed the Scottish Secretary on 29 May 2010. After entering office, Moore oversaw the implementation of the Scotland Act 2012, which granted further devolution to Scotland. He was removed from the post in a Cabinet reshuffle in October 2013.
Moore was elected on two occasions (2005 and 2010) to serve as Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, and was returned on two earlier occasions (1997 and 2001) as MP for the previous constituency of Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale. He was defeated in the 2015 general election by Calum Kerr, the SNP candidate.Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (UK Parliament constituency)
Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles was a county constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (Westminster) from 1955 to 1983. It elected one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post voting system.SDP–Liberal Alliance
The SDP–Liberal Alliance was a centrist political and electoral alliance in the United Kingdom. Formed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Liberal Party, the Alliance was established in 1981, contesting the 1983 general election, 1984 European election and 1987 general election. The Alliance ceased to exist in 1988, when the two component parties merged to form the Social and Liberal Democrats, later renamed the Liberal Democrats.Social Democratic Party (UK)
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) was a centrist political party in the United Kingdom. The party supported a mixed economy (favouring a system similar to the German social market economy), electoral reform, European integration and a decentralized state while rejecting the possibility of trade unions being overly influential within the industrial sphere.The SDP was founded on 26 March 1981 by four senior Labour Party moderates, dubbed the 'Gang of Four': Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams, who issued the Limehouse Declaration. Owen and Rodgers were sitting Labour Members of Parliament (MPs); Jenkins had left Parliament in 1977 to serve as President of the European Commission, while Williams had lost her seat in the 1979 general election. The four left the Labour Party as a result of the January 1981 Wembley conference which committed the party to unilateral nuclear disarmament and withdrawal from the European Economic Community. They also believed that Labour had become too left-wing, and had been infiltrated at constituency party level by Militant tendency whose views and behaviour they considered to be at odds with the Parliamentary Labour Party and Labour voters.
For the 1983 and 1987 General Elections, the SDP formed a political and electoral alliance with the Liberal Party, the SDP–Liberal Alliance. The party merged with the Liberal Party in 1988 to form the Social and Liberal Democrats, now the Liberal Democrats, although a minority left to form a continuing SDP led by David Owen.