The Liberal Democrats, or Lib Dems for short, were formed in 1988 from the merger of two other parties, the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. In the early 20th century the Liberal Party were one of the two main parties in the UK, the other being the Conservatives. Known as the Whigs, the Liberals held power in several governments. Well known political figures such as William Gladstone, Henry Asquith and David Lloyd George are a few individuals who have held the office of Prime Minister under a Liberal Government.
After the formation of the Labour Party in 1900 the popularity of the Liberals declined. At the end of the First World War and expansion of suffrage to all men over 21 years of age the Labour Party overtook the Liberals as the main opposition to the Conservative party. From here the popularity of the Liberals continued to decline throughout the rest of the century until the merger with the Social Democrats in the late 80’s.
The Social Democratic Party was originally founded from a split with the Labour Party in 1981. The SDP believed in a more liberal view than that of Labour, who they accused of being too Left Wing.
Since the merger the Liberal Democrats have endured mixed fortunes, being viewed as the “Number 3” party in the UK and by some as the Protest Vote party. The success of the Liberal Democrats at the last general election led to them entering into a coalition government with the Conservatives, something that has not happened in the UK since 1940 due to the Second World War and the need for a united front.
Leader – Nick Clegg MP (Current Deputy Prime Minister)
Nick Clegg has been the Leader of the Lib Dems since 2007, replacing Sir Menzies Campbell. He represents the constituency of Sheffield Hallam.
He attended Cambridge University and studied Archaeology and Anthropology, later also studying at the University of Minnesota for a year. Before becoming an MP Mr Clegg was a Member of the European Parliament between 1999 and 2004, representing the East Midlands for the Liberal Democrats.
Quick Facts about Nick Clegg MP:
– He supports Arsenal FC
– He speaks 5 European Languages
– His luxury item to take on a desert island would be a “stash of cigarettes”
Party Colours – Yellow/Orange
Current Number of Seats
57 seats in Commons. 105 seats in Lords. The liberal democrats are currently the third largest party in the House of Commons and are currently part of the ruling coalition government alongside the Conservative Party.
Main manifesto policies as set out by the Liberal Democrats:
– “Stronger Economy. Fairer Society. Opportunity for Everyone.”
– A Stronger Wales – Deliver Home Role for Wales with further powers and fair funding
– Prosperity for all – Balance the budget fairly and invest to build a high skill, low carbon economy
– Fair Taxes – Cut your taxes by an additional £400 by raising the tax free allowance to £12,500
– Opportunity for Every Child – Invest in our schools through our Pupil Premium
– Quality Health Care for all – Increase resources for our NHS and ensure safe staffing levels.