Did he ask for trouble? - probably did
From then on throughout the 1970s his fate was sealed within the party
Although he did not realise it until 1978
Not only did Gwynoro have a majority of 3 but after Ted Heath had failed to come to an agreement to form an administration with Jeremy Thorpe and the Liberals, Harold Wilson formed a minority Labour government; Despite Heath's mishandling of the miners' strike Labour failed to break through as it should have.
The issue of the left versus the moderates in the party had been building up ever since the division s within Labour whether to join the European Economic Community;
Sometime in late February or early March the Labour Parliamentary Party called a meeting to examine what went wrong in the General Election; It was at that meeting that he voiced concerns over the leftward drift which was electorally damaging to the party in many parts of the country.
Also at that time he was Roy Jenkins’s Parliamentary Secretary.
Having made his stand he felt that there was no choice now but to up the anti as it were, so in deliberations with Cledwyn Hughes, a statement was prepared that was released in his name and the ITN news picked it up. So he was asked to come on their one o'clock news programme
The statement went along the lines -
that 'the captain of the ship (Harold Wilson) in the middle of a hurricane does not attend a meeting called by the first mate (Tony Benn) to discuss the next voyage'.
After that in June 1974 he wrote an open letter to the Labour Party members in the Carmarthen Constituency, extracts included -
' I cannot any longer conceal my acute concern about some developments in the Labour Party which will in my view not enhance the prospects of the party and will also affect the long term unity of the Labour Movement .....I happen to believe strongly in the principles of Social Democracy'.
Although Dick Taverne had made a stand in 1971/72 and indeed argued for the setting up of the SDP then it is considered that this was the first time after that for a sitting Labour MP to have publicly made such a strong reference to principles of social democracy.
Needless to say it caused a stir and there were people in the Labour Party that wanted him disciplined, whip taken from him etc but Michael Foot came to his defence.
He concluded - did he ask for trouble? he probably did and from then on throughout the 1970s his fate was sealed within the party.
Although he did not realise it until late 1979, but more about that in an upcoming video.