The former Labour MP’s defection, and the later split within that party, has not yet found in a parallel in our own turbulent times.
Churchill saw a century ago that the existing party machines will always prove the stronger, and UKIP and the SDP have confirmed this.
We will push back internally when ideologues call for sensible Ministers to be sacked because they are trying to act in the national interest over Brexit.
During the 1980s, the electoral function of the SDP/Alliance was to help the Conservatives win. This does not necessarily hold true 30 or so years on.
It’s sad in a way, but the quicker Labour is eclipsed and a new leftist party emerges, the better for everyone.
Does the Anglican character of Toryism explain why it’s avoided producing the long and fascinating list of breakaways sported by Labour and the Liberals?
It was crucial not just to defy the far left – but also the moderate left and the establishment.
They have gone either way in successive elections, but their recent results show up electoral trends that helping the Tories.
Plus: Loud sounds from Tom Watson. Pig noises from Craig Oliver. And: Come and hear me make a fool of myself in Manchester on Sunday.
The last attempt at reviving the Social Democrat experiment was New Labour. Now those same people face exile under Corbyn.