Lord Owen – who left the Labour Party to found the SDP 33 years ago – has announced his support for Ed Miliband’s party reforms and pledged financial support to the Labour Party. Announcing his backing late last night, Owen said:
“This is a brave and bold reform … and one I strenuously argued for as a Labour MP at the special conference on Saturday 25 January 1981. This very desirable change, nevertheless, threatens to weaken Labour’s financial support at a critical time, when I and many others are hoping to see the party produce a plan for government from May next year to rescue our NHS. Saving the NHS is my main political priority, and I suspect that of many others.
“To help Labour reverse the 2012 NHS legislation without yet another major reorganisation, I have made a declarable contribution of over £7,500 to Labour funds. Unless there is a change of government, the NHS in England will be completely destroyed by 2020.”
Many within the party will see Owen’s support as a sign that Miliband’s party reforms have been successful, although for some he will always be a turncoat splitter who left the party and contributed to 18 years of Tory government. Owen will not join the Labour Party, and although he’ll support the party in the Lords, he’ll sit as an Independent Social Democrat. Ed Miliband welcomed Owen’s decision, saying:
“Lord Owen’s support today is welcome. It is 33 years since he left our party and much has happened since. In our many conversations over the past few years, I have come to value his friendship and insight into politics. I value his support and respect his decision to remain an independent member of the House of Lords.”