Liberal Democrats (UK)

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The Liberal Democrats ("Lib Dems") are a social liberal political party based in the United Kingdom. The party was formed in 1988 by the merger of the Liberal Party and the short lived Social Democratic Party (the two parties had already been in an alliance for some years).

The party is led by Charles Kennedy. It is currently the third-largest party in the UK Parliament, behind Labour and the Conservatives, and currently has 55 members of Parliament. In the Scottish Parliament it forms a coalition Scottish Executive with Labour, where it supplies Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace.

The Liberal Democrats do not easily fit into the "left-right" political spectrum. They are not a party founded on economic principles; while promoting some politically and socially liberal policies, they do not espouse an explicit economically liberal doctrine as seen in other "Liberal Parties" in other countries. Instead, the Liberal Democrats describe themselves as being concerned with the use of power in British and international society. They also are wary of the powers of the state over individuals, and as a principle seek to minimise state intervention in personal affairs. Their opponents describe them as being all things to all people, having so many policies that they would find it impossible to implement them consistently were they to find themselves in Government.

Leaders of the Liberal Democrats, 1988-Present

Frontbench: "Shadow cabinet"

The Liberal Democrat frontbench team used to be just called that. Under Charles Kennedy's leadership, and the increase of Lib Dem MPs, they now claim to be the "effective opposition". They therefore style themselves as a Shadow Cabinet, though this was previously the title used to describe the group of leading spokesmen and women associated with the official Leader of the Opposition, i.e. currently the Conservatives.

(As of December 2003)

External links