SDP: The Birth, Life and Death of the Social Democratic Party

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Oxford University Press, 1997 - Political Science - 611 pages
Launched on a wave of euphoria in 1981, the SDP aroused the hopes and enthusiasm of millions. Promising to break the mould of British politics, its leaders included four of the most respected figures in British public life - Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers, and Shirley Williams.But the SDP failed. Despite winning with the Liberals a quarter of the vote in two general elections, by the autumn of 1987 it had disintegrated amidst acrimony and bitter in-fighting.Ivor Crewe and Anthony King draw on unprecedented access to the SDP's archive and extensive interviews with all the leading players to chronicle the party's short but turbulent history and analyse in detail the reasons for its early success and its ultimate demise.Reviews of the hardback:`It is British political science at its best, combining intimate knowledge of the players with a firm grasp of the numbers, all gracefully and thoughtfully presented.' Nelson W. Polsby, Choice`This study of the SDP is a classic of its kind, accurate, detailed, perceptive, mercilessly honest.' Shirley Williams, Times Higher Education Supplement`Professors Crewe and King have produced a masterpiece of contemporary history. They marshal complex arguments and masses of detail with the art that conceals art. Their narrative sweeps forward with captivating energy and style, and bristles with mordant phrases.' David Marquand, Observer`If there were a Booker Prize for social sciences, here would be the obvious nomination.' Kenneth O. Morgan, New Statesman`This brilliant history - definitively researched, graced with wit, insight and countless pungent anecdotes.' Gerald Kaufman, Sunday Telegraph`Our two professors ... write clearly, sometimes wittily and without academic jargon. They are masters of their material.' Douglas Hurd, Daily Telegraph

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About the author (1997)


Ivor Crewe and Anthony King are Professors of Government at the University of Essex, and frequent contributors to the national media. Anthony King is a member of the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life.

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