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

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From Mr Frank Field, MP

Sir: The purpose of a general confession is to express contriteness. Instead Polly Toynbee turns past deeds into a rip-roaring success story. I remain mindful that I and others were not more effective in keeping some Labour moderates on board. Yet Polly Toynbee seems totally oblivious of how the defections changed the balance of power and politics in the Labour Party. At every turn we were accused by the hard left of being part of the next group who would rat (their word) at the next opportunity.

So a different scenario could be written. Far from the members of the SDP claiming responsibility for the advent of Tony Blair, they prevented all the welcome changes associated with his leadership for a decade. Moreover they more than anyone else were responsible for Margaret Thatcher's election successes in the 1980s.

Clement Attlee responded to a typical outburst by the then chairman of the Labour Party, Harold Laski, that a period of silence was called for. Only the name, Polly, needs changing.

Yours faithfully,

FRANK FIELD

MP for Birkenhead (Lab)

London, SW1

21 June

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