This website serves the purpose of carrying what Lord Owen has said or written on current topical issues.  It is not meant to be a comprehensive archival record.  Lord Owen has donated all his personal papers dating back to when he was a Minister in Government and covering the SDP years and time as EU Co-Chairman of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia to the University of Liverpool, of which he was Chancellor from 1996-2009.  These papers are available to be researched in the University of Liverpool Library Special Collections and Archives. A catalogue of what is available can be found here.


Lord David Owen on restructuring the EU and saving Syria

“The Eurozone is fundamentally flawed. It needs substantive changes. That means going towards a more federal, integrated Europe.

“… We have a real problem in that we could face a collapse in Damascus. So-called Islamic State…(are) already in the suburbs and could become the owners of Damascus. That would be an absolute tragedy.”



“Lord Owen sets out the building blocks for a progressive alliance of firstly the NHS Bill and a cross party Constitutional Convention for a federal structure for the UK”

“The question – and it is a very real one – is can the SNP and the Labour Party in Scotland do anything other than fight each other for the next five years? On this it has been encouraging that the London based UK leadership of Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Jon Trickett an influential Shadow Cabinet member with an additional task of embracing a cross-party Constitutional Convention. The prospect of developing some mutual respect in Scotland hinges on progress over creating a Convention in one form or another.

“[Nicola Sturgeon’s] own nationalism and how she conducts herself is critical as to where the UK will end up. A UK becoming more united or a UK heading for separation.

“Pacts or deals do not involve merging of parties or the loss of their identity, but they can be the means to legislate for a constitutional accord. Such an accord might be one where the parties that want to separate agree to stay in the UK, to participate in a federal union and have proportional representation across the UK. … This is radical politics such as we have not seen for many years, but it is cross party, not one party. Inclusive, not exclusive.

“This is not hard left. Nor Trotskyist but socially responsible and capable of uniting the UK.”

Read the full text here: ReferendaCrossPartyConvention

“Why will the world not focus on doing more to stop the war?” asks Lord Owen.

“The refugee crisis that dominates Europe’s TVs and newspapers is the product of the horrendous civil war that still rages in Syria. Why will we not focus our attention on this? The reality in Syria is that the war creates the refugees. Do more to stop this war is my plea. While we focus on our own necessary response to refugees in Hungarian or Austrian railway stations, the humanitarian situation worsens in and around Syria. Refugee camps are struggling to cope. This civil war has to be stopped.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted meetings on Aug. 25 with King Abdullah of Jordan in Moscow and is also talking to Saudi Arabia. The Security Council in New York should be making a contingency plan for what happens when Assad suddenly leaves Damascus to move to his Alawite coastal stronghold on the Mediterranean.”

Read the full text of Lord Owen’s article in the World Post here: Why Jordan is key to ending the Syrian crisis

Europe Restructured: The Eurozone Crisis and the UK Referendum. Revised edition now available

EuropeRestructuredcover2015 copy 2_opt-2Former Foreign Secretary, Lord David Owen, a lifelong European, says “Without a very different renegotiation, for the first time in my life I could well vote ‘No’ to remaining in the EU. Continuing with much the same EU is not supportable.”

In his book Europe Restructured Lord Owen provides a negotiable blueprint for a restructured EU Single Market within the European Economic Area. It allows for more and more opt outs for the UK as it lifts its veto on the necessary ever greater integration of the Eurozone in order to alleviate its six year crisis, and as the Eurozone inevitably introduces more and more Qualified Majority Voting. He advocates the UK remaining in the EU Single Market within the European Economic Area (EEA), and that this area should be opened, in principle, to all of the wider European states as full voting members when they fulfil the criteria for entry, such as Turkey, already an associate of the EU, and Switzerland. But they are not offered free movement of people and labour. Also in future any EU country like the UK that does not want to be in the Eurozone nor in the Schengen group and wish to retain control of its own borders they would no longer be obliged to offer free movement of people and labour to any new EU member. That means that eight countries* in the queue for EU membership would be stopped from the automatic right to come into the UK. This is a huge but necessary reduction in potential open access to the UK. Unlike over Poland, Bulgaria and Romania it means closing an open door before it happens. The distinction that makes this possible is that free movement is not essential for a Single Market but is essential for an ever-greater integrated Eurozone. …..

Lord Owen says “This restructuring is both more realistic and far reaching than anything at present on the Government’ s very limited negotiating agenda. It is the means for avoiding Brexit, a course on which at present we are sleepwalking towards.”

Read the full press release on the books page

The revised, 2015 ebook is available on Amazon now – please check you have the 2015 edition. Visit Europe Restructured (2015).

David Owen calls for Damascus to be saved

Letter to The Times, published Thursday 27 August 2015



Lord Owen hopes cooperation over Caroline Lucas’s NHS Bill could lead to a wider progressive alliance amongst the political parties.

The Campaign for the Reinstatement Bill has, in essence, been adopted in this new Parliament by Caroline Lucas in her Private Member’s NHS Bill which has received a First Reading. The importance of this Bill is that prior to the Election it was supported by Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green MPs and now this newly tabled Bill continues to be supported by that same grouping though slightly different names.

This, in my view, provides the basis for a progressive alliance in UK politics to emerge.  It is best for them to focus first on the health service in the UK as a building block for quickly moving on to a constitutional convention which should be established on the understanding that if the Conservatives were ready to involve themselves that would be far better but that in the absence of such cooperation others should get on with it.  I recognise for the SNP and Labour in Scotland that will be a difficult dialogue and therefore I believe it would be wiser to establish it on a UK basis.   Such an alliance might move then into austerity and economic and social policy.  It will have to sort out a proportional system for the Westminster elections and agree it before a general election.  This is not an academic issue: it is a question for political horse trading when they have got used to the concept of working together to form a government in 2020.  If they have any sense they will also enter into negotiations over standing down from specific constituencies in order to help each other beat the first past the post system.

This may be all too ambitious. But starting on the health service gives substance and structure to a cooperative project so that by the time the Second Reading of Caroline Lucas’s Bill comes before the House of Commons on 11 March 2016 I would hope there is a readiness of the SNP MPs to stay on in London to ensure 100 MPs are present to enforce a closure debate when, as is inevitable, Conservatives try to talk the Bill out.  I also hope that then in Committee, in the light of changes in the NHS in England and elsewhere in the UK, the Bill can be amended and that this process will continue throughout the Parliament.  It will not of course become law but that same Bill could be reintroduced if someone wished, having been lucky in Private Member’s ballot, in every session until the Election, all the time adjusting and reflecting changes and new thinking.



Lord Owen looks back in BBC Radio 4 ‘Reflections’ programme.

In ‘Reflections’, historian Peter Hennessy asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times.

In this episode, Lord David Owen discusses the transition from his early days as the son of a Welsh doctor in Plymouth to his election as a Labour MP while still in his twenties. Lord Owen reflects on his rise in politics, the events surrounding the formation of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and his public life since he stood aside from its merger with the Liberals.

Listen to the programme here: Lord Owen: ‘Reflections’

David Owen highlights need for parity for Eurozone and non-Eurozone countries within the EU”.

Letter published in the Guardian, 28 May 2014:

On the issue of fiscal convergence, David Cameron must not repeat the mistake of Margaret Thatcher who ignored Nigel Lawson’s twice-repeated warning…. that “the inclusion of European monetary union as a treaty objective would be a political commitment going well beyond previous references to EMU.” Without a parity of esteem for an EU of multiple currencies there can be no basis for a UK renegotiation.

Read the full letter here