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Owen, David (b. 1938). Former leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). After qualifying as a doctor Owen entered politics as a Labour MP. He rose swiftly, becoming foreign secretary in 1977 at the age of just 38. With the party's swing to the left, Owen became increasingly disaffected and helped to found the SDP as one of the ‘gang of four’. He became leader of the party in 1983 and envisaged a multi-party system with proportional representation. He worked hard to maintain the political integrity of the SDP and remained aloof from the merger with the Liberal Party after the 1987 general election. Owen continued to preside over a rump SDP until the party was wound up in 1990. He retired from the Commons in 1992 and was created baron of the city of Plymouth, the seat he represented for over twenty-five years. He has since acted as European Community Peace Envoy to the former Yugoslavia (1992–5).
Richard A. Smith