Britain: Having a Party

A centrist force is born

As he rose to address his colleagues in the House of Commons one evening last week, former Foreign Secretary David Owen's hands trembled visibly. Over the years he had spoken on countless occasions from his accustomed place on the Labor Party's front bench. This time, standing at a physical and political remove from his old colleagues, Owen launched the new Social Democratic Party, a movement that could change the face of British politics.

The previous day, Owen and eleven other Members of Parliament had resigned from the Labor Party. When they formally constitute themselves as the Social...

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