INTRODUCTION: Britain's first significant new political grouping for half a century -- the Social Democratic Party -- was formally launched in London on Thursday (26 March).
GV & SVs Crowded news conference. Four party leaders enter, headed by Roy Jenkins
GV Four leaders seated on dais
CU Dr. David Owen speaking
GV PULL OUT Dais and press
GVs Press and camera crews
CU Shirley Williams speaking
GV INTERIOR Hall
SVs Shirley Williams leaves hall surrounded by police and newsman
SPEECH ON FILM (TRANSCRIPT)
SEQ. 3: OWEN: "Our country is in real trouble, and I think everybody knows it. They can see unemployment rising, and they can sense that we will not recover our economic strength, nor will we recover our national self-confidence unless we have a new start, a fresh start, a quite different form of politics."
SEQ. 6: WILLIAMS: "I was educated for part of my life in the United States, and I have always been struck, whenever I've been in Britain, by the extent to which we shackle ourselves, by the extent of our class system in Britain, and now, the extent of the divisions between the public sector and the private sector, divisions between different regions and nations of the country, and, of course, divisions between different occupational and income groups. And, it's always seemed to me that one of the great troubles of our politics is that they have been so much class-based politics. So much is built upon, rather than trying to heal the divisions within the country."
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Britain's first significant new political grouping for half a century -- the Social Democratic Party -- was formally launched in London on Thursday (26 March). Its four most prominent members broke away from the Labour Party in which they had all held ministerial posts. They are Mr. Roy Jenkins, Mrs. Shirley Williams, Dr. David Owen and Mr. William Rogers, who've been dubbed "The Gang of Four". At the launching, packed with dozens of media people, they presented a 12-point programme for their party.
SYNOPSIS: For Mr. Jenkins, a former Home Secretary, the occasion marked his direct return to domestic British politics. He had spent the previous four years as the President of the European Commission in Brussels. He had foreshadowed the birth of the new party in a noted lecture 15 months ago.
Dr. Owen, a former Foreign Secretary, saw Britain's predicament as grim.
Dr. Owen and his collagues spearhead those Labour supporters who have become disenchanted and worried by the party's strong lurch to the left. Mrs. Williams had strong words about Britain's class system.
Political pundits see Mrs. Williams, who lost her parliamentary seat at the last General Election, as a potential leader of the Social Democratic Party. They consider she has the widest appeal among the Gang of Four. But, to have any national clout, the new party must strike some agreement with the Liberal Party.