LETTER : Where are the true offspring of the SDP? Not in New Labour

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The Independent Online
From Mr Doug Henderson, MP

Sir: Polly Toynbee's column "We lost, but Son of SDP will win" (21 June) with its claim that

Tony Blair is our creation, there only by grace of our efforts, the sweat of our brow.

reminded me that history is always interesting after a rewrite.

As someone who in the early 1980s was heavily involved in regional Labour politics, my recollection of events differs. After the defections to the SDP it was the sweat of the whole body of many - including Denis Healey, Neil Kinnock, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and others less prominent like me - who fought day and night at endless meetings to ensure the Labour Party retained its integrity as a democratic, reforming party on the left that could command the support of a majority of British people.

During that period we were repeatedly characterised by the deserters as puppets of an uncontrollable and unelectable "left". Indeed, I recall Polly Toynbee telling me at the Konigswinter conference in the late 1980s that I and others like me were fighting a lost cause. Is it that "lost cause" for which she is now claiming the credit?

Incidentally, I would welcome Polly and others who joined the SDP back into the Labour Party.

Yours sincerely,


House of Commons

MP for Newcastle upon

Tyne North (Lab)

London, SW1

21 June

The writer is Labour's Public Services spokesperson.