Contents [ printable ]

D709 - Papers of David Owen

Loose news cuttings: ([1973-Jan 1981])

Reference D 709 2/16/1/3
Physical Description 17 items.

Scope and Content

Miscellaneous loose news cuttings relating to David Owen's career as Labour Party MP, on subjects including: Plymouth constituency issues; Labour Party internal dispute, 1980–81,and attacks of Shirley Williams and David Owen on the Labour Party `Far Left'; birth of Lucy Owen, Feb 1979; problems in Southern Africa; nuclear deterrents. Also includes transcript of speech by [David Owen] on industrial relations and occupational health; election campaign leaflets for Roy Jenkins , Stechford, and John Goss, Conservative candidate, Plymouth.

Access Points

Subjects
Defence policy
Nuclear weapons
Occupational health
Labour Party: internal politics
Personal Names
Owen, Lucy
Jenkins, Roy
Goss, John
Geographical Names
Southern Africa
England : Devon : Plymouth
England : Warwickshire : Stechford

Labour Party . News cuttings and publications. publications (c1975-1980)

Reference D 709 2/16/2

Scope and Content

Group D 709 2/16/2 includes a small collection of publications including pamphlets, reports, and leaflets produced by the Labour Party or organisations associated to the Labour Party.

Arrangement

The publications in D 709 2/16/2 are arranged where possible in chronological order


Fabian Tract 438Social Democracy in Europe published by the Fabian Society, London (Dec 1975) - Crosland, Anthony

Reference D 709 2/16/2/1
Physical Description 14pp.

Scope and Content

Based on a lecture give at the invitation of the Socialist International by Anthony Crosland to a seminar of members of the Costa Rican Government, San Jose, Costa Rica, Oct 1975.

Access Points

Geographical Names
Europe

Argentina, Chile and Brazil published by the Labour Party, London (Jul 1977) - National Executive Committee of the Labour Party

Reference D 709 2/16/2/2
Physical Description 7pp.

Scope and Content

A statement by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.

Access Points

Subjects
Human rights
Geographical Names
Argentina
Chile
Brazil

Fabian News published by the Fabian Society, London (Sep 1977) - Fabian Society

Reference D 709 2/16/2/3
Physical Description 8pp.

Scope and Content

Includes notice of lecture by David Owen in group of lectures on `A socialist philosophy for the eighties'.


Fabian News published by the Fabian Society, London (Oct 1977) - Fabian Society

Reference D 709 2/16/2/4
Physical Description 8pp.

Scope and Content

Includes notice of lecture by David Owen in group of lectures on `A socialist philosophy for the eighties'.


File: `Government Achievements 1979'. (1979)

Reference D 709 2/16/2/5
Physical Description 1 file; 19 sheets.

Scope and Content

Report of Labour government achievements of 1979, set against manifesto commitments.


The future of the Labour Party published by the Campaign for Labour Victory, London (Feb 1980) - Campaign for Labour Victory

Reference D 709 2/16/2/6
Physical Description 24pp.

Report of the Labour Party Commission of Enquiry published by the Labour Party, London1980 (1980) - Labour Party Commission of Enquiry

Reference D 709 2/16/2/7
Physical Description 51pp.

Report of the Annual Conference and Special Conference of the Labour Party published by the Labour Party, London (1980) - Labour Party

Reference D 709 2/16/2/8
Physical Description 342pp.

Campaign leaflets, London () - Labour Party

Reference D 709 2/16/2/9
Physical Description 6 items.

Scope and Content

Collection of Labour Party membership recruitment campaign leaflets on various policy issues.


Labour Party . Leaving Labour (c.1977-1981.)

Reference D 709 2/17

Scope and Content

The papers in group D 709 2/17 include drafts of statements, correspondence, speech transcripts, news cuttings and other material relating to events leading to David Owen's decision to leave the Labour Party.

Biographical notes

Following Labour's election defeat in 1979 the Party suffered an increasingly bitter internal struggle between its Left-wing and Right-wing members. Richard Kelly terms the period 1979–1983 as `the Bennite ascendancy' (Kelly, Richard in Britain's Changing Party System, p.27) with Tony Benn and the Labour Party Left achieving increasing influence within the party, alienating many of the more `right-wing' members, of whom David Owen was a prominent representative.

Tony Benn argued that too much of the Party's authority rested with the parliamentary leadership, not enough with the Labour Party activists, and drew up proposals ('Benn-Heffer proposals') for constitutional reform which would reduce the independence of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). A Labour Party Commission of Enquiry was accordingly set up to look into these proposals. David Owen, firmly opposed to the suggested reforms, began to increase his support for the Campaign for Labour Victory, a `grass roots organisation' established in Feb 1977 to try and combat the influence of the extreme left and Militant Tendency, which issued a statement to counter the proposals. However, subsequent Labour conferences reflected the increasing strength of the Party Left. At the Sep 1979 conference a proposal of mandatory re-selection of MPs by their constituency parties was carried, and although proposals for an `electoral college' to replace the PLP's right to elect the Party leadership were rejected, Owen recollects the conference as an ominous forewarning for the moderates: 'Few of us had any doubt that Tony Benn was masterminding a fundamental change in the balance of the Party, an historic shift from elected representatives to non-elected party caucuses' (Owen, Time to Declare, p.424). The Special Conference held at Wembley the following year was also dominated by Left-wing sentiment, notably hostility to British membership of the European Community, and support for unilateral nuclear disarmament.

On 6 Jun 1980 David Owen met with two other `moderate' Labour politicians, Shirley Williams and Bill Rodgers, to draft a statement in support of European membership. The group, who became known as the `Gang of Three', resolved to meet again to draft a wider-reaching statement to cover further issues of policy.

On 14–15 Jun 1980 at the conference of the Labour Party Commission of Enquiry to finalise its report, held at Bishop's Stortford, proposals for mandatory re-selection and an electoral college system for the election of the Party leader were passed; finally endorsed, to the frustration of Owen, by James Callaghan. At the annual Labour Party conference in October, the Left-wing realised further significant victories, carrying votes to introduce unilateral nuclear disarmament, to establish mandatory re-selection of MPs and to widen the franchise for election of the Party leader and deputy leader, by a method to be decided by a Special Conference. The conference emphasised the bitter divisions within the Labour Party, and on 15th Oct Callaghan resigned as Party leader. David Owen continued to campaign against the influence of the Left, speaking out in opposition to the idea of an `electoral college' and proposing a system of `one member, one vote' . On 10 Nov 1980 the election of Michael Foot as Party Leader, defeating Denis Healey, was a further indication of the Left's ascendancy, and moved David Owen to the decision to resign from the Shadow Cabinet.

On 18 Jan the `Gang of Four' met for the first time, a group comprising the original `Gang of Three' and Roy Jenkins, to prepare a statement for release after the Labour Party Special Conference at Wembley in anticipation of the proposals for an electoral college being accepted. On 24 Jan the conference voted for an electoral college by a majority of 94%, with only 6% supporting Owen's idea of a postal ballot for all party members. Further, the composition of the electoral college was determined to allow 40% of votes to the trade unions, 30% each to the PLP and constituency parties: a result reflective, as Richard Kelly notes, of 'the fact that this special conference, like all Labour conferences, was dominated by the unions' block votes' (R. Kelly, Britain's Changing Party System p.28)

On the following day the `Gang of Four' met at David Owen's residence in Limehouse for the final redrafting of the document to become known as the `Limehouse Declaration' which announced the establishment of the Council for Social Democracy to 'rally all those who are committed to the values, principles and policies of social democracy' and address the need for a 'realignment of British politics' . On the following day nine further Labour MPs pledged their support for the Council. David Owen's work Face the Future, a comprehensive statement of personal policy which he had begun in the spring of 1980 'in order to confront the ideology of the centralised Left and the mistaken path of state socialism' (Owen Time to Declare p. whatever ); was published on the 29 Jan and work began on preparations for the creation and launch of a new social democratic party. (SEE D709 3/1 SDP Papers: Launch of the SDP; D 709 3/19/1 SDP Papers: David Owen Publications. Face the Future).

Arrangement

The papers in group D 709 2/17 are arranged into the following groups:

  • D 709 2/17/1 Personal papers: Campaign for Labour Victory / Labour disunity
  • D 709 2/17/2 Personal papers: Gang of Three, Gang of Four and the Council for Social Democracy
  • D 709 2/17/3 Correspondence files


Labour Party . Leaving Labour . Campaign for Labour Victory (c.1977-1981.)

Reference D 709 2/17/1

Scope and Content

The papers in group D 709 2/17/1 include collections of memoranda, draft papers, speech transcripts, correspondence, leaflets and other material relating to the work of the Campaign for Labour Victory and the issues surrounding the growing disunity in the Labour Party.

Arrangement

The papers in group D 709 2/17/1 are arranged as far as possible in chronological order.


File of personal papers: `Electoral College 1980'. (Feb 1977-Jan 1981)

Reference D 709 2/17/1/1
Physical Description 1 file, c. 78 items.

Scope and Content

File of miscellaneous papers relating to proposals for the establishment of an electoral college for the election of Labour Party leadership; include:

  • Correspondence and memoranda concerning Campaign for Labour Victory meetings, actions and policy, including letter from William Rodgers to David Owen announcing establishment of the Campaign for Labour Victory, 21 Feb 1977, enclosing copy of his opening statement and the Resolution; copy of conference briefing paper, May 1980 etc
  • Reports and memoranda relating to the Labour Party Commission of Enquiry into the organisation and constitution of the Party convened by the 1979 conference; copies of papers/amendments drafted by members of the Parliamentary Labour Party, including David Owen, as evidence to the Commission; on re-selection of members, election of the Party leader, preparation of the manifesto etc
  • Also includes copies of minutes of TUC-Labour Party Liaison Committee meetings [attended by David Owen] Jul 1979//Dec 1979

Access Points

Subjects
Labour Party: electoral college
Personal Names
Rodgers, William

File of personal papers: `Campaign for a Labour Victory'. ([Aug 1979-Jun 1980])

Reference D 709 2/17/1/2
Physical Description 1 file, c.42 items.

Scope and Content

Material relating to the activities of the Campaign for Labour Victory; including:

  • Issues of the CLV news sheet Labour Victory Feb 1979//Oct 1979//May 1980; copy of campaign leaflets
  • Papers relating to joint statement on party reform issued by the CLV and the Manifesto Group of Labour MPs, including copy of the statement, [Sep-Nov 1979]
  • Copy of CLV evidence presented to the Labour Party Commission of Enquiry; printed as pamphlet: The Future of the Labour Party; other papers relating to the Commission of Enquiry
  • Correspondence relating to the CLV including copies of letters sent out by David Owen to rally support/funds for the CLV; letters sent to David Owen expressing interest in the group
  • Drafts of memoranda on future of Labour Party; includes 10 page memorandum setting out assumed decision areas for future months, particularly over electoral college issue, [Dec 1979]; draft of 11 page memorandum discussing reform of the Party organisation and constitution.

Access Points

Subjects
Labour Party: electoral college
Labour Party : disunity
Corporate Names
Campaign for Labour Victory

File of personal papers: `Leaving Labour'. ([Oct 1979-Nov 1981])

Reference D 709 2/17/1/3
Physical Description 1 file, 64 items.

Scope and Content

File containing wide range of material relating to events leading to the David Owen's split with the Labour Party and the Limehouse Declaration, including:

  • A signed copy of the Limehouse Declaration
  • Transcripts of speeches and statements made by David Owen 1979–Jan 1981 on issues relating to the Party's internal dispute, including EEC membership; statement and letter to Devonport Constituency Labour Party explaining his decision not to stand for election to the Parliamentary Committee; election of Party leadership and the idea of an electoral college; the Labour Party Commission of Enquiry; speech defending James Callaghan following Labour's defeat; production of the Party manifesto; reproduced copy of `Gang of Three's ` open letter to the Guardian, 1 Aug 1980; `personal statement' to Devonport Constituency General Management Committee on his decision not to stand for re-selection etc
  • Timetable of events leading to launch of SDP 29 Oct 1979–26 Mar 1981; and chronologies of events based on extracts from new articles: `Labour's constitutional wrangles' May 1979–Jan 1981; quotes from reports in Labour Weekly Jul - Nov 1980; and Western Evening Herald Jan -Feb 1981.
  • Papers concerning the Campaign for Labour Victory ; memoranda, circulars and leaflets
  • Articles of correspondence: including letters of enquiry/opinion from correspondents interested in the internal disputes; copies of David Owen's replies; copy of David Owen's letter resigning the Labour Party Whip, Mar 1981; copy of David Owen's letter to Michael Foot issuing election challenge for Devonport constituency, 4 Nov 1981, with Michael Foot's reply; copy letter sent by David Owen to the Guardian confronting assertions of Tony Benn that the last Labour government concealed decisions regarding nuclear disarmament from Parliament, Dec 1980 etc
  • Some papers concerning the Labour Party Commission of Enquiry; including two copies of recommendations on different forms of an electoral college system
  • Other papers include programme for conference, news articles etc

Access Points

Subjects
EEC
Nuclear weapons
Labour Party: electoral college
Labour Party : disunity
Personal Names
Benn, Tony
Foot, Michael
Callaghan, James
Corporate Names
Campaign for Labour Victory

File of personal papers: `Commission of Enquiry'. ([Jan 1980-Feb 1980])

Reference D 709 2/17/1/4
Physical Description 1 file, 5 items.

Scope and Content

Copies of trade unions' evidence presented to the Labour Party Commission of Enquiry into the organisation and constitution of the Party; includes papers from GMWU, Electrical Electronic Telecommunication and Plumbing Union (EETPU)and the Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff; some bear David Owen's annotations.

Access Points

Subjects
Trade unions

File of personal papers: `Widening the franchise'. (Oct 1980-Nov 1980)

Reference D 709 2/17/1/5
Physical Description 1 file, c. 36 items.

Scope and Content

File containing copies of papers, motions, amendments and memoranda concerning proposals for the widening of the franchise in the election of the Labour Party leader and deputy leader; prepared by members of the Parliamentary Labour Party; the Manifesto Group of Labour MPs and the Campaign for Labour Victory: include detailed proposals for the `one member one vote' system; some MS annotations.

Access Points

Subjects
Labour Party: electoral college
Labour Party : disunity

Speech transcripts. (Oct 1980-Jan 1981)

Reference D 709 2/17/1/6
Physical Description 4 items.

Scope and Content

Loose transcripts of reports of speeches made by David Owen on membership of the EEC (1 Oct 1980); need for nuclear deterrence (Oct, 1980); need for James Callaghan to take firm stand as leader (2 Oct 1980); election of the Labour Party leadership (24 Jan 1981).

Access Points

Subjects
EEC
Nuclear weapons
Labour Party: electoral college
Labour Party : disunity
Personal Names
Callaghan, James

File of personal papers: `Academic Articles on Realignment'. ([1976-1980])

Reference D 709 2/17/1/7
Physical Description 1 file, 4 items.

Scope and Content

Includes three copied extracts of essays on realignment by Ivor Crewe; information on Labour Party voting trends, 1900–1974, sent to David Owen in 1976; copy of memorandum: `Amendment to Clause VI of the Labour Party Constitution', with David Owen's annotations.

Access Points

Personal Names
Crewe, Ivor

File of personal papers: `SDA/Dick Taverne etc'. (Jul 1980-Jun 1981)

Reference D 709 2/17/1/8
Physical Description 1 file; 26 items.

Scope and Content

File containing correspondence between members of the Social Democratic Alliance, including Dick Taverne, Stephen Haseler, Roger Fox and Douglas Eden, and David Owen concerning David Owen's stand against the Left wing trend in the Labour Party, particularly proposals for an electoral college for Labour leadership elections, and the formation of the SDP. Includes some SDA campaign and policy literature.

Access Points

Personal Names
Fox, Roger
Haseler, Stephen
Eden, Douglas
Taverne, Dick

Labour Party . Leaving Labour . Council for Social Democracy (Jul 1980-Mar 1981)

Reference D 709 2/17/2

Scope and Content

The papers in group D 709 2/17/2 include draft papers, correspondence, news cuttings and other material relating to the events surrounding the production of the Limehouse Declaration by the `Gang of Four' and the establishment of the Council for Social Democracy.

Arrangement

The papers in group D 709 2/17/2 are arranged as far as possible in chronological order.


File of drafts and related papers: `Gang of 3 letter to Guardian August 1980'. (Jul 1980-Aug 1980)

Reference D 709 2/17/2/1
Physical Description 1 file; 14 items.

Scope and Content

Includes annotated drafts, correspondence and copy correspondence concerning open letter sent by David Owen, Shirley Williams and Bill Rodgers to the Guardian calling for need to establish socialist alternative to Conservative policies.

Access Points

Subjects
Labour Party: disunity
Personal Names
Rodgers, William
Williams, Shirley

An open letter to William Rodgers, Mrs Shirley Williams and Dr David Owen ([8 Aug 1980])

Reference D 709 2/17/2/2
Physical Description 1 item.

Scope and Content

Copy of David Steel's open letter to for publication in the Guardianto the members of the `Gang of Three' urging them to reject the Labour Party and begin talks with the Liberal Party

Access Points

Subjects
Labour Party: disunity

File of drafts and related papers: `Limehouse Declaration'. (Jan 1981)

Reference D 709 2/17/2/3
Physical Description 1 file; 4 items.

Scope and Content

Includes drafts, with some annotation, of the Limehouse Declaration of David Owen, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers and Roy Jenkins.

Access Points

Subjects
Labour Party: disunity
Personal Names
Jenkins, Roy
Rodgers, William
Williams, Shirley

Loose drafts: Limehouse Declaration. (Jan 1981)

Reference D 709 2/17/2/4
Physical Description 10 leaves.

Scope and Content

Various drafts, some annotated, of the Limehouse Declaration of David Owen, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers and Roy Jenkins.

Access Points

Subjects
Labour Party: disunity
Personal Names
Jenkins, Roy
Rodgers, William
Williams, Shirley

File of personal papers on the Council for Social Democracy: `March 81'. (Jan 1981-Mar 1981)

Reference D 709 2/17/2/5
Physical Description 1 file, 15 items.

Scope and Content

Includes copies and drafts of key documents relating to the formation of the Council for Social Democracy; including:

  • copy of `The Declaration for Social Democracy'
  • copy press releases, letters to constituents announcing decisions of MPs Mike Thomas and Ian Wrigglesworth to support the Council
  • letters from Tom Ellis suggesting the need for a conference and commenting on David Owen's `Face the Future
  • copy of Shirley Williams' letter of resignation from the National Executive Committee, 9 Feb
  • drafts/copies of press release of statements issued by the Council announcing the intention to launch a new party, and listing MPs supporting the Council, with annotations
  • copy of text of telegram to international leaders of socialist parties announcing creation of the Council

Access Points

Subjects
Labour Party: disunity
Personal Names
Williams, Shirley
Wrigglesworth, Ian
Thomas, Mike
Ellis, Tom

Loose news cuttings: (Jan 1981)

Reference D 709 2/17/2/6
Physical Description 10 leaves.

Scope and Content

Various drafts, some annotated, of the Limehouse Declaration of David Owen, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers and Roy Jenkins.

Access Points

Subjects
Labour Party: disunity
Personal Names
Jenkins, Roy
Rodgers, William
Williams, Shirley