- William Rodgers, Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank
The Right Honourable
name = William Rodgers
Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank, PC
birth_date = birth date and age|1928|10|28|df=y
Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords
2 May 1997
12 June 2001
Paddy Ashdown Charles Kennedy
successor = Shirley Williams
Secretary of State for Transport
10 September 1976
4 May 1979
predecessor2 = John Gilbert
party = (1) Labour
(3) Liberal Democrats
William Thomas Rodgers, Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank, PC (born
Liverpool 28 October 1928), usually known as William Rodgers but also often known as Bill Rodgers, was one of the "Gang of Four" of senior British Labour Party politicians who defected to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He subsequently helped to lead the SDP into the merger that formed the Liberal Democrats, and later served as that party's leader in the House of Lords.
Rodgers was educated at Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool and at
Magdalen College, Oxford. He was general secretary of the Fabian Society1953–1960 and a councillor on St. Marylebone Borough Council 1958-62. He also fought a byelection at Bristol West in 1957.
Member of Parliament
Rodgers first entered the
British House of Commonsat a by-election in 1962, and served in Labour Governments under Harold Wilsonand James Callaghan, becoming Secretary of State for Transportin Callaghan's Cabinet in 1976.Within the Labour Party he was known for being a highly effective organiser around right wing causes such as multilateral nuclear disarmament and Britain's membership of the EEC. He held the post until Labour's defeat in the 1979 general election. With Labour drifting to the left, Rodgers joined Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkinsand David Owenin forming the Social Democratic Party in 1981. He led the negotiations on the split of seats with the Liberals for the SDP side and his decision to go public on the difficulties encountered has often been blamed for starting the Alliance's slide in the opinion polls. On the other hand only three seats eventually saw rival Liberal and Alliance candidates in the 1983 General Election so his tactics were in that sense successful.
Gang of Four
At the 1983 general election the
SDP-Liberal Alliancewon many votes but few seats, and Rodgers lost his seat of Stockton North (known as Stockton-on-Tees before the boundary changes of 1983). He remained outside Parliament, unsuccessfully contesting Milton Keynesfor the SDP in the 1987 general election, until he received a life peerage as Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank, of Kentish Town in the London Borough of Camdenin 1992. During that interval he was Director-General of the Royal Institute of British Architectsand also became Chairman of the Advertising Standards Agency.
In 1987 Rodgers was chairman of the successful "Yes to Unity" campaign within the SDP in favour of merger with the Liberal Party. He became the Liberal Democrats' Lords spokesman on Home Affairs in 1994 and was its leader in the Lords between 1997 and 2001. His autobiography was titled "Fourth Among Equals", reflecting his position as the least prominent of the SDP's founders.
* [http://www.libdems.org.uk/people/lord-rodgers-of-quarry-bank Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank] profile at the site of Liberal Democrats
* [http://www.theyworkforyou.com/peer/lord_rodgers_of_quarry_bank Recent Speeches in the Lords]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.