UK Politics

Lord Owen 'could vote for Labour' under Miliband

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Media captionLord Owen says he is considering voting for Labour but is not aiming to hold a post in the party

Lord Owen, a founder of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), says he could rejoin Labour after being impressed by Ed Miliband's leadership.

The former foreign secretary, who left Labour to help form the breakaway SDP 30 years ago, said he would "certainly consider voting" for his old party.

He also said that he has been in contact with Mr Miliband.

He told BBC1's Politics Show Mr Miliband had performed "extremely well" since becoming Labour leader.

Lord Owen joined with Roy Jenkins, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams, becoming known as the "gang of four", when they formed the SDP in 1981 after splitting from the Labour Party.

'Good opposition'

He resigned as SDP leader over the merger with the Liberal Party, a move which eventually led to the formation of the Liberal Democrats.

He now sits as a crossbench peer in the Lords.

Lord Owen said: "I'm old enough to remember Labour when it was, in my view, a genuine social democratic party... and I think it's come back again to that."

When asked if he could see himself rejoining Labour, he said: "I suppose I could. I could certainly consider voting for them, and I hope I will. I want to see social democracy thrive in this country, and that's what I've always wanted."

He went on to say that he could envisage being back in Labour "but I'd prefer, I think, at my old, grand old age of 72, to just consider voting for them.

'Sensible shadow cabinet'

"That's because I don't want to go back in the structure of it all. I wish them well, I always want a good opposition."

He said he had spoken to Mr Miliband, although not about him rejoining the party.

"He knows that I'm going to look very hard at what he does with the Labour Party. I think he's started extremely well.

"He's claimed back the ground of civil liberties which Tony Blair lost for the Labour Party, in many good decisions.

"But I think he made some very sensible shadow cabinet decisions and I think that he's rooted the party by his choice of shadow chancellor [Alan Johnson] who's a trade unionist... a decent man."

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