William Rodgers, Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank
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The Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank

Official portrait of Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank crop 2.jpg
Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords

19 December 1997 - 7 June 2001
LeaderPaddy Ashdown
Charles Kennedy
The Lord Jenkins of Hillhead
The Baroness Williams of Crosby
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

14 June 1979 - 8 December 1980
LeaderJim Callaghan
Michael Foot
Fred Mulley
Brynmor John
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

4 May 1979 - 14 June 1979
LeaderJim Callaghan
Norman Fowler
Albert Booth
Secretary of State for Transport

10 September 1976 - 4 May 1979
Jim Callaghan
John Gilbert (Minister of State)
Norman Fowler (Minister of State)
Minister of State for Defence

4 March 1974 - 10 September 1976
Harold Wilson
Jim Callaghan
George Younger
John Gilbert
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal

12 February 1992
Life peerage
Member of Parliament
for Stockton-on-Tees

5 April 1962 - 9 June 1983
George Chetwynd
Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1928-10-28) 28 October 1928 (age 91)
Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Political partyLabour (Before 1981)

Liberal Democrats (1988-present)
Alma materMagdalen College, Oxford

William Thomas Rodgers, Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank, PC (born 28 October 1928), usually known as William Rodgers, but also often known as Bill Rodgers, is 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.

Early life

Rodgers was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, and educated at Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool and at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was general secretary of the Fabian Society 1953-1960 and a councillor on St. Marylebone Borough Council 1958-62. He also fought a by-election at Bristol West in 1957.

Member of Parliament

Rodgers first entered the British House of Commons at a by-election in 1962, and served in Labour Governments under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, becoming Secretary of State for Transport in Callaghan's Cabinet in 1976. Within the Labour Party he was known for being a highly effective organiser around centrist 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. From 1979 to 1981 he was Shadow Defence Secretary. With Labour drifting to the left, Rodgers joined Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins and David Owen in forming the Social Democratic Party in 1981. In September 1982, Rodgers stood to become President of the SDP, but took only 19.4% of the vote, and a distant second place behind Williams.[1]

Gang of Four

At the 1983 general election the SDP-Liberal Alliance won 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 Keynes for the SDP in the 1987 general election, until he was created a life peer as Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank, of Kentish Town in the London Borough of Camden on 12 February 1992.[2] During that interval he was Director-General of the Royal Institute of British Architects and also became Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority.

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. Rodgers was interviewed in 2012 as part of The History of Parliament's oral history project.[3][4]

Personal life

Rodgers married in 1955 Silvia Szulman (1928-2006), a Berlin-born artist and writer, who became a political hostess.[5] The couple had three daughters, Rachel, Lucy and Juliet.[6]

References

  1. ^ Berrington, Hugh (1984). Change In British Politics. London: Frank Cass and Company. p. 83. ISBN 0203013271.
  2. ^ "No. 52836". The London Gazette. 17 February 1992. p. 2711.
  3. ^ "Oral history: Rodgers, William (b.1928)". The History of Parliament. Retrieved 2016.
  4. ^ "Lord Rodgers of Quarrybank interviewed by Mike Greenwood". British Library Sound Archive. Retrieved 2016.
  5. ^ "Lady Rodgers of Quarry Bank". The Times.
  6. ^ "Silvia Rodgers". Guardian.

Bibliography

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Donald Chapman
General Secretary of the Fabian Society
1953-1960
Succeeded by
Shirley Williams
Preceded by
Peter Townsend
Chair of the Fabian Society
1966-1967
Succeeded by
Arthur Blenkinsop
Preceded by
The Lord Jenkins of Hillhead
Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords
1997-2001
Succeeded by
The Baroness Williams of Crosby
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Chetwynd
Member of Parliament
for Stockton-on-Tees

1962-1983
Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
John Gilbert
as Minister of State for Transport
Secretary of State for Transport
1976-1979
Succeeded by
Norman Fowler
as Minister of State for Transport
Preceded by
Norman Fowler
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
1979
Succeeded by
Albert Booth
Preceded by
Fred Mulley
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
1979-1980
Succeeded by
Brynmor John
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Lord Craig of Radley
Gentlemen
Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank
Followed by
The Lord Wilson of Tillyorn



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