Records of the Social Democratic Party (Scotland), political party, Scotland

Scope and Content

The Social Democratic Party (Scotland) Archive includes council minutes, agendas, papers, and correspondence of the Social Democratic Party in Scotland from 1981 to 1990. It also holds publications by the Tawney Society which was set up in 1982 as a "think-tank" for the SDP. Material related to the aims and objectives of social democracy are also held, such as Campaign for Social Democracy publications. Contents include:

Council minutes 1983-1990 including 

  • SDP National Committee minutes
  • Co-ordinating Committee minutes
  • Organisation Sub-committee minutes
  • Organisation Working Group minutes
  • Scottish Liaison Committee minutes
  • West of Scotland Co-ordinating Committee Executive minutes
  • West of Scotland Acting Co-ordinating Committee minutes
  • West of Scotland Co-ordinating Committee minutes
  • West of Scotland Activity Committee minutes
  • Scottish Business Club minutes
  • Assembly Arrangements Committee minutes
  • SDP and Liberal Meeting minutes
  • Glasgow North Area Party Committee minutes
  • Glasgow North Area Party AGM minutes
  • Glasgow North Area Party Election Sub-committee minutes
  • Dumbartonshire Social Democrats District Committee minutes
  • Dumbarton Alliance Committee minutes
  • Helensburgh and District SDP minutes

Correspondence 1981-1989 including letters from: 

  • London Central Office
  • SDP Headquarters
  • House of Commons
  • SDP Scottish Office
  • SDP Council for Scoltland
  • Scottish Liaison Committee (SliC)
  • North East Scotland Organising Committee
  • West of Scotland Area Regional Party/Organising Committee
  • Edinburgh Area Party
  • Glasgow North Area Party
  • Dumbartonshire District SDP

Other records include:

  • Consultative Assembly agendas 1983-1990
  • SDP Publications including SDP White Papers and Constitutional Publications; Tawney publications 1982-1988
  • Alliance material
  • Journals/bulletins/papers/memorandums 1981-1990

Administrative / Biographical History

Following the largest group defection from the Labour Party since 1931, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was launched on the 26 March 1981  under the collective leadership of the "Gang of Four":- Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, David Owen, and Bill Rodgers. The first meeting of the SDP Scottish Liaison Committee took place on the 7 June 1981 . The Regional Committee became known as the SDP Council for Scotland. It had the power to summon consultative assemblies for discussion and submission of issues of special concern to Scotland to the National Policy Sub-Committee. The first meeting of this Council took place on 22 January 1983. The Scottish Council also co-ordinated the activities of the Scottish area parties. Despite winning with the Liberal Party a quarter of the vote in two general elections, infighting between the "Jenkinsites" and "Owenites" and acrimony over the issue of merger brought about the end of the SDP in its original form in early 1988  , when by majority vote it merged with the Liberal Party. The continuing SDP lead by David Owen was wound up in May 1990 .


The material has yet to be formally arranged

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Deposit : ex-SDP party members : 1994

Other Finding Aids

Some hand lists and partly electronically catalogued, available through Glasgow Caledonian University library catalogue at through the TELNET function. This can be searched using a keyword search, alternatively this catalogue can be browsed through the archives hierarchy.

Further information can be found via the Glasgow Caledonian University Archives homepage at

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 1847 procedures

Custodial History

Held by ex-SDP party members


None expected

Related Material

GB 0141 D709 Records of Lord Owen relating to the Social Democratic Party (Liverpool University: Special Collections & Archives)

GB 0301 SDP Records of the Social Democratic Party (Essex University Library)

For contact details of all repositories with a GB code, see the ARCHON repository search page available at


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original

Updated by Carole McCallum, Glasgow Caledonian University Archivist, 30 January 2002

Updated by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 29 July 2002

Geographical Names