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SHIRLEY WILLIAMS, the former Labour cabinet minister who broke away from the party to form the SDP, has died at the age of 90.
As a Labour minister, she served in the governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan in the 1970s rising to become education secretary.
But in 1981, alarmed at Labour’s shift to the left under Michael Foot, Ms Williams was one of the “gang of four” to leave the party to form the new centrist SDP, helping to guarantee Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 landslide. The SDP later merged with the Liberals to form the Lib Dems.
In a statement, Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey paid tribute to Baroness Williams of Crosby as a “true trailblazer” for women.
Labour’s shadow justice secretary David Lammy also paid tribute to Ms Williams on Twitter, saying he was “lucky” to be taught by her at Harvard and to “forge a friendship across the political divide in politics.”
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