David Owen

Knowledge Identifier: +David_Owen

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David Owen

British politician add

Category: Politics

Born in 1938.

Countries: United Kingdom (68%), United States (5%), France (5%)

Main connections: Social Democratic Party (UK), Roy Jenkins, Michael Foot

Linked to: Social Democratic Party, Labour Party, Liberal Party, Conservative Party

 

Timeline


 

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David Owen was born in 1938 add something


1956

After schooling at Mount House School, Tavistock, Devon, and Bradfield College, Berkshire, he was admitted to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in 1956 to study medicine add something

 

Owen was deeply affected by the Suez crisis of 1956, when Anthony Eden's Conservative government launched a military operation to retrieve the Suez Canal from Nasser's decision to nationalise it add something


1959

He began clinical training at St Thomas's Hospital in October 1959 add something

 

John Dunwoody - Dunwoody contested the safe Conservative seat of Tiverton in 1959, and came close to winning Plymouth Sutton in 1964, losing by just 410 votes in a seat that David Owen would later hold for several years for Labour


1960

In 1960, Owen joined the Vauxhall branch of the Labour Party and the Fabian Society add something

 

William Sargant - David Owen worked under Sargant at St Thomas' in the 1960s, before embarking on his political career, and recalled him as "a dominating personality with the therapeutic courage of a lion" and as "the sort of person of whom legends are made"


1962

He qualified as a doctor in 1962 and began work at St Thomas's Hospital add something


1964

In 1964, he contested the Torrington seat as the Labour candidate against the Conservative Party incumbent, losing in what was a traditional Conservative-Liberal marginal add something


1966

At the next general election, in 1966, Owen returned to his home town and was elected Labour Member of Parliament for the Plymouth Sutton constituency add something


1968

From 1968 to 1970, Owen served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Navy in Harold Wilson's first government add something

 

He married Deborah Owen , an American literary agent, in 1968 add something


1970

After Labour's defeat in the 1970 General Election, he became the party's Junior Defence Spokesman until 1972 when he resigned with Roy Jenkins over Labour's opposition to the European Community add something


1972

He first quit as Labour's spokesman on defence in 1972 in protest at the Labour leader Harold Wilson's attitude to the EEC; he left the Labour Shadow cabinet over the same issue later; and over unilateral disarmament in November 1980 when Michael Foot became Labour leader add something


1974

In the February 1974 general election Owen became Labour MP for the adjacent Plymouth Devonport constituency, winning it from the Conservative incumbent Dame Joan Vickers by a slim margin add something

 

On Labour's return to government in March 1974, he became Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health before being promoted to Minister of State for Health in July 1974 add something

 

Social Democratic Party (UK) - The MP for Plymouth Devonport, Dr David Owen , took over as SDP leader after the 1983 General Election


1976

In September 1976, Owen was appointed by the new Prime Minister of five months, James Callaghan, as a Minister of State at the Foreign Office and was consequently admitted to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom add something


1977

Owen served as British Foreign Secretary from 1977 to 1979, the youngest person in over forty years to hold the post add something


1978

The Contact Group sponsored UN Resolution 435 in 1978 on which Namibia moved to independence twelve years later add something


1979

However, 18 months after Labour lost power in 1979, the staunchly left-wing politician Michael Foot was elected party leader, despite vocal opposition from Labour Party moderates , sparking a crisis over the party's future add something

 

Lancaster House Agreement - As Foreign Secretary, Owen was identified with the Anglo-American plan for then-Rhodesia, which formed the basis for the Lancaster House Agreement, negotiated by his Tory successor, Lord Carrington in December 1979 add something

 

Ann Widdecombe - She contested the seat of Burnley in Lancashire in the 1979 general election and then, against David Owen, the Plymouth Devonport seat in the 1983 general election


1980

Michael Foot's election as Labour party leader indicated that the party was likely to become more left-wing, and in 1980 committed itself to withdrawing from the EEC without even a referendum add something

 

In a pamphlet, "Fatally Flawed" he demonstrated that far from the internal market, which he had championed in the 1980s, the Bill introduced an external market and he worked closely with the Labour Front Bench in the House of Lords add something


1981

Early in 1981, Owen and three other senior moderate Labour politicians – Roy Jenkins, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams – announced their intention to break away from the Labour Party to form a "Council for Social Democracy" add something

 

From 1981, however, his involvement with the SDP meant he developed a large personal following in the constituency and thereafter he was re-elected as an SDP candidate with safe margins add something

 

In 1981, Owen was one of the "Gang of Four" who left the Labour Party to found the Social Democratic Party add something

 

In late 1981, the SDP formed the SDP-Liberal Alliance with the Liberal Party to strengthen both parties' chances in the UK's "first past the post" electoral system add something

 

Many of the opinion polls in late 1981 and early 1982 had shown the SDP with a comfortable lead over the Tories, who were proving unpopular largely due to high unemployment and the early 1980s recession and ahead of the Labour Party whose democratic-socialist policies were driving away moderate voters add something

 

He resigned from the Labour Party when it rejected one member, one vote in February 1981 and later as Leader of the Social Democratic Party, which he had helped to found, after the party's rank-and-file membership voted to merge with the Liberal Party add something

 

George Walden - He was appointed Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, serving David Owen and Lord Carrington, for which he was decorated CMG in the New Year Honours of 1981

 

Liberal Party (UK) - In 1981, defectors from the moderate wing of the Labour Party, led by former Cabinet ministers Roy Jenkins, David Owen and Shirley Williams, founded the Social Democratic Party


1982

In 1982, during the Falklands War, Owen spoke at the Bilderberg Group advocating sanctions against Argentina add something

 

In 1982, uneasy about the Alliance, Owen challenged Jenkins for the leadership of the SDP, but was defeated by 26,256 votes to 20,864 add something


1983

Falkland War - Ironically, it had been the success of the Falkland War, which had put paid to any hopes that the SDP might have had of winning the 1983 election add something

 

He succeeded in keeping the Party in the public eye and in maintaining its independence from the Liberals for the length of the 1983 Parliament add something

 

Owen blamed the SDP's demise on the reforms which had been taking place in the Labour Party since the election of Neil Kinnock as leader in 1983 add something

 

Owen led the SDP from 1983 to 1987, and the continuing SDP from 1988 to 1990 add something

 

Social Democratic Party (UK) - During the 1983-87 parliament some SDP members started to become unsettled at what appeared to be the increasingly right wing course taken by SDP leader David Owen

 

Bo Pellnas - He served as head of the Norrbotten Regiment, head of battalion on Cyprus from 1983 to 1984, head of the United Nations Military Observers in Afghanistan from 1988 to 1989, head of the United Nations Military Observers on Balkan during the Yugoslav wars from 1992 to 1993, military advisor to David Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg from 1993 to 1994, and head of the head of an international mission to monitor the Yugoslav-Bosnian border from 1994 to 1995 when he retired from the military


1987

In 1987 immediately after the election, the Liberal leader David Steel proposed a full merger of the Liberal and SDP parties and was supported for the SDP by Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams and Bill Rodgers add something

 

Lord Holme later blamed Owen for the Alliance's failure to make a breakthrough at the 1987 general election, believing that a merged party would have performed much better and possibly gained more votes and seats than Labour add something

 

The 1987 general election was as disappointing for the Alliance as the 1983 election and it lost one seat add something

 

Social Democratic Party (UK) - After a ballot of members and the passing of a motion at the 1987 Portsmouth conference, the party merged with the Liberal Party in 1988 to form the Liberal Democrats, although a minority left to form a continuing SDP led by David Owen

 

Michael Meadowcroft - He lost his seat in 1987, and later publicly blamed SDP leader David Owen's flirtation with Thatcherism for his voters' disaffection with the SDP-Liberal Alliance


1988

Social Democratic Party (UK) - Under David Owen, the SDP continued from 1988 to 1990, and subsequently, but without Owen's involvement

 

John Cartwright (UK politician) - A close political ally of David Owen, he stayed loyal to Owen and Owen's continuing SDP after the Liberal Party and a majority of the SDP merged in January 1988 to become the Liberal Democrats

 

Liberal Party (UK) - Most SDP members voted in favour of the merger, but SDP leader David Owen objected and continued to lead a "rump" SDP, with the merger of the two parties being completed in March 1988 to form the "'Social and Liberal Democrats"', becoming the "'Liberal Democrats"' in October 1989


1989

The party polled well at its first election, its candidate coming a close second in the 1989 Richmond by-election, but thereafter a string of poor and ultimately disastrous by-election results followed, including coming behind the Official Monster Raving Loony Party in the Bootle by-election of May 1990, prompting Owen to wind up the party in 1990 add something


1990

Some branches, however, continued to function using the SDP name; Bridlington's was still extant in 2006 add something

 

In another conversation with Wyatt on 4 June 1990 Thatcher said Owen's natural home was the Conservative Party add something


1992

He remained as MP for Plymouth Devonport until his elevation to a peerage in 1992 add something

 

During the April 1992 election campaign, Owen writing in The Mail on Sunday newspaper advised voters to vote Liberal Democrat where they had a chance of victory and to vote Conservative rather than let Neil Kinnock become Prime Minister add something

 

In August 1992, Owen was British Prime Minister John Major's choice to succeed Lord Carrington as the EU co-chairman of the Conference for the Former Yugoslavia, along with Cyrus Vance, the former U.S. Secretary of State as the UN co-chairman add something


1993

After Vance's withdrawal, Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg brokered the EU Action Plan of December 1993 add something


1994

In early 1994, the European Parliament had voted by 160 votes to 90, with 2 abstentions, for Owen's dismissal, but he was supported by all 15 EU Member State governments add something

 

Owen was made a Companion of Honour for his services in the former Yugoslavia in 1994 add something

 

Owen, however, was consistently supported by all 15 EU Member States and the German Presidency in July 1994 urged him to remain as did the French Presidency in January 1995 add something

 

Charles Armstrong (ethnographer) - In 1994 Armstrong formed a venture called the Electric Company which worked with David Owen to develop and publish a CD-ROM titled "Balkan Odyssey" documenting the peace process in former Yugoslavia; where Owen was serving as the EU's Peace Envoy


1995

In January 1995, Lord Owen wrote to President François Mitterrand as President of the European Union to say that he wished to step down before the end of the French presidency add something

 

At the end of May 1995, he was succeeded by the former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt add something


1996

He was approached privately by Tony Blair, leader of the Opposition, in 1996 on whether he was ready to support New Labour add something

 

Owen was the Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, from 1996-2009 add something


2002

Lord Owen was chairman of Yukos International UK BV, a division of the former Russian petroleum company Yukos, from 2002 to 2005. and a member of the board of Abbott Laboratories, a US healthcare company, from 1996-2011 add something


2005

As chairman of New Europe, he was the co-leader of the 'no to the Euro' campaign with Business for Sterling, which ceased when the UK Government declared in 2005 that Euro membership was off the agenda following the defeat of the EU Constitution in referendums in France and the Netherlands add something

 

In May 2005, he was approached two days before the General Election by someone very close to Tony Blair to endorse Labour add something


2007

In September 2007, it was widely reported in the British press that Lord Owen had met the new Prime Minister Gordon Brown and afterwards had refused to rule out supporting Labour at the next general election add something


2009

In October 2009 he wrote an article in the Times predicting that the Conservatives, well ahead in the opinion polls, were unlikely to win an outright majority add something


2010

He helped create the web-based Charter 2010 to explain and promote the potential of a hung parliament add something

 

The website campaign was launched in January 2010 while the Conservatives still appeared on course to win outright add something

 

In February 2010, he wrote a pamphlet for the Social Market Foundation thinktank entitled "EU Social Market and Social Policy" add something

 

In May 2010 the Sunday Times called Owen "the prophet of the coalition" add something


2011

He supports the European Referendum Act of 2011 add something

 

He vigorously opposed the Health and Social Care Bill in 2011-12 add something

 

In 2011 he was the first politician to call for a "no-fly zone" over Libya add something

 

In January 2011, Owen revealed that his "heart was with Labour" and that he looked forward to the time when he could vote Labour again add something

 

In an editorial on 27 February 2011 the Sunday Times said, "It was a man who has not been in office for nearly 32 years - Lord Owen, the former foreign secretary - who has been the most eloquent British voice over Libya add something

 

Lord Owen continued to argue for engagement, criticising David Cameron's so-called 'veto' in December 2011 arguing instead for a formal non-eurozone grouping with the right to join or leave the eurozone add something


2012

In June 2012 Lord Owen published "Europe Restructured" outlining a blueprint for restructuring the EU to allow for those countries that wish to be part of a more integrated eurozone to be facilitated while those who may only want to belong to a Single Market community are enabled to do so add something


2014

He sat in the House of Lords as a crossbencher until March 2014, and now sits as an "independent social democrat" add something

 

In March 2014, it was revealed that Owen had donated over £7,500 to the Labour Party, following leader Ed Miliband's reforms of the party's links with trade unions add something


2015

Circle (healthcare partnership) - After the announcement of the results of the Care Quality Commission inspection of Hinchingbrooke Hospital in January 2015 the Chief Executives of 19 NHS mutuals signed a letter to The Guardian protesting that David Owen had bracketed their organisations with Circle


2016

In February 2016, he announced that he now backs Brexit in light of the June Referendum add something

 

In September 2016 at a film-screening of the documentary "Bad Blood:A Cautionary Tale", he dramatically ended a 15 minute speech on the subject proclaiming "I have failed and I feel very miserable about it" add something

 

In October 2016 the Civil Service Commission refused a request to investigate Lord Owens destroyed documents and separately the Department of Health advised that "the add something


2017

On 10 May 2017 he featured in an episode of BBC Panorama called "Contaminated Blood:The Search for the Truth" add something

 

In the June 2017 General Election, Owen continued to support the Labour Party add something