UK political party of the centre, led from 2015 by Tim Farron. The UK's third main party, the Liberal Democrats are successors to the Liberal Party, founded in 1859, and the Social Democratic Party, founded in 1981, which merged in 1988 to form the Social and Liberal Democrats (SLD). The name Liberal Democrats was adopted in 1989. It is a progressive party, which supports closer integration within the European Union (EU), constitutional reform (including proportional representation, regional government, and election of the House of Lords), and greater investment in state education and the National Health Service, financed by higher direct taxes on the wealthy. The party has strong libertarian and environmentalist wings. In 2010–15, the Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg, joined a coalition government with the Conservatives, led by David Cameron, which implemented an austerity programme aimed at reducing the UK's high public spending deficit.
At the 1997, 2001, and 2005 general elections, under the consecutive leadership of Paddy Ashdown 1988–99 and Charles Kennedy 1999–2006, the Liberal Democrats benefited from anti-Conservative tactical voting by Labour supporters in marginal seats to return a larger than anticipated number of members of Parliament (MPs). In December 2007 Nick Clegg became party leader and moved the party from the centre-left to the centre. Although the party lost seats at the 2010 general election (57 down from 62), they benefitted from the Conservatives' failure to win an outright majority, and entered government as part of a coalition, with Clegg as deputy prime minister to David Cameron. However, against a backdrop of continuing economic recession in the UK, the party suffered a marked downturn in popularity, with heavy losses in local government elections and poor opinion poll ratings. At the same time, some fundamental Liberal Democrat aspirations were derailed, as a change in the voting system for national elections was rejected in a referendum, proposed legislation to reform the House of Lords was undermined by Conservative opposition, and Clegg was forced to renege on a pre-election commitment to oppose any rise in student tuition fees. The May 2015 general election saw support for the Liberal Democrats slump dramatically, falling to 8% (down from 23% in 2010), and only eight of its 57 MPs survive. Clegg resigned as leader and was succeeded in July 2015 by Tim Farron.
Federal party policy is established by a party conference, held twice a year in spring and autumn, and attended by elected representatives from constituency parties. Separate Scottish and Welsh conferences set policy for the party in Scotland and Wales. The Liberal Democrat leader is elected by party members on the basis of one member one vote.
Ashdown, Paddy (Jeremy John Durham)
Britain's third main political party, after the Labour Party and the Conservatives. It was formed from the old Liberal Party in May 1988 as...
A British political party of the centre, established (as the Social and Liberal Democrats) in 1988 when most of the Social Democratic Party ...
British Liberal Democrat politician, minister of state at the Cabinet Office and Department of Education from 2012. A leading figure on the economica