Letter: Making a meal of Tawney's legacy

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DONALD MACINTYRE'S fascinating piece on the Labour Party and Christian socialism ('Labour and that old-time religion', 28 March) makes the justified allegation that the Social Democratic Party purloined R H Tawney's name and attempted to claim his ideological heritage.

The actual process was not quite so stark. In February 1981, eight friends, four of whom had left the Labour Party for the SDP, decided in a fit of sentimental error to meet on a regular basis to discuss newly-found political differences. We called ourselves the Tawney Club. I still have the letter inviting me to the inaugural meal. Later that year I discovered that my erstwhile colleagues who had joined the SDP had launched the Tawney Society. I remember feeling faintly shocked but not surprised. I'm bound to say that even Tawney's great name didn't do them much good]

The Rev Paul J Flowers

Bridlington, Yorks