Research Collections


Social Democratic Party (Scotland) Archive

Reference codes, titles and dates of Archive

Reference Code: GB 1847 SDP
Title: Records of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Scotland
Date of creation of material
: 1981-1990
Level of description
: Fonds
: 6 metres

Administrative history

Name of Creator: Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Administrative history
: Following the largest group defection from the Labour Party since 1931, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was launched on the 26 March 1981 under the collective leadership of the "Gang of Four":- Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, David Owen, and Bill RodgersSDP publication.  The first meeting of the SDP Scottish Liaison Committee took place on the 7 June 1981.  The Regional Committee became known as the SDP Council for Scotland. It had the power to summon consultative assemblies for discussion and submission of issues of special concern to Scotland to the National Policy Sub-Committee.  The first meeting of this Council took place on 22 January 1983.  The Scottish Council also coordinated the activities of the Scottish area parties.  Despite winning with the Liberals a quarter of the vote in two general elections, infighting between the "Jenkinsites" and "Owenites" and acrimony over the issue of merger brought about the end of the SDP (in its original form) in early 1988, when by majority vote it merged with the Liberal Party.  The continuing SDP lead by David Owen was wound up in May 1990.
Archival history: Retained by Ralph Leishman and Bob Sawyer.
Immediate Source of Acquisition: Donated by ex SDP party members in 1994.

What is in the Archive

Scope and Content Abstract: The Social Democratic Party (Scotland) Archive includes council minutes, agendas, papers, and correspondence of the Social Democratic Party in Scotland from 1981 to 1990.  It also holds publications by the Tawney Society which was set up in 1982 as a "think-tank" for the SDP.  Material related to the aims and objectives of social democracy are also held, such as Campaign for Social Democracy publications.

Council minutes 1983-1990 including - 

  • SDP National Committee minutes
  • Co-ordinating Committee minutes
  • Organisation Sub-committee minutes
  • Organisation Working Group minutes
  • Scottish Liaison Committee minutes
  • West of Scotland Co-ordinating Committee Executive minutes
  • West of Scotland Acting Co-ordinating Committee minutes
  • West of Scotland Co-ordinating Committee minutes
  • West of Scotland Activity Committee minutes
  • Scottish Business Club minutes
  • Assembly Arrangements Committee minutes
  • SDP and Liberal Meeting minutes
  • Glasgow North Area Party Committee minutes
  • Glasgow North Area Party AGM minutes
  • Glasgow North Area Party Election Sub-committee minutes
  • Dumbartonshire Social Democrats District Committee minutes
  • Dumbarton Alliance Committee minutes
  • Helensburgh and District SDP minutes

Correspondence 1981-1989 including letters from- 

  • London Central Office
  • SDP Headquarters
  • House of Commons
  • SDP Scottish Office
  • SDP Council for Scoltland
  • Scottish Liaison Committee (SliC)
  • North East Scotland Organising Committee
  • West of Scotland Area Regional Party/Organising Committee
  • Edinburgh Area Party
  • Glasgow North Area Party
  • Dumbartonshire District SDP

Other records include -

  • Consultative Assembly agendas 1983-1990
  • SDP Publications including SDP White Papers and Constitutional Publications; Tawney publications 1982-1988
  • Alliance material
  • Journals/bulletins/papers/memorandums 1981-1990

Please note that this Archive is still being worked on and the content will be updated in time.

Appraisal, Destruction and Scheduling Information: This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 1847 procedures.
Accrual: None expected. 
System of Arrangement: This material is awaiting arrangement.

Getting & using the Archive

Conditions Governing Access:  Open by arrangement with the Archivist.
Copyright/Conditions Governing Reproduction: Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.
Language of Material: English.
Physical Characteristics: None which affect the use of this material.
Finding Aids: Some hand lists and partly electronically catalogued, available through Glasgow Caledonian University Library’s web pages.  

Other collections of similar subject matter

Location of Originals: This material is original.
Existence of Copies: No known copies.
Related Units of Description:  Liverpool University Special Collections and Archives: Records of Lord Owen relating to SDP
Essex University Library: Records of the SDP
Further details of related material can be found on the appropriate links page.
Publication Note: None to date.

Archive contact

Carole McCallum (University Archivist)
Telephone - +44 (0)141 273 1188
Email -  

Notes relating to the preparation of this description

Description Compilation Details: Compiled by Lesa Ng, 20 February 1999 and Donna Wilkinson, 18 February 2000 (both placement students).
Description Alterations: Updated by Carole McCallum, 30 January 2002, 3 April 2003.

Last Updated: 18 August, 2009
Edited by:

Logo: SDP