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Time periods: 1988-2010
The Liberal Democrats, formed from the merger of the Liberal Party and the SDP, came into being at a dark time for Liberalism and struggled to survive in its early years. Yet despite competition from a revitalised New Labour, the party achieved real successes in by-elections and local elections and in 1997 saw the highest number of MPs elected since the 1920s - adding to the number even further in 2001 and 2005, particularly on the back of the party's opposition to the Iraq War. The party's strength in local government grew significantly, and Liberal Democrat ministers served in coalitions with the Labour Party.

History (9)
Biographies (4)
Journal articles (44)
Events (20)
Archives: libraries (2)
Archives: individuals (3)
PhD theses (4)
Research (2)

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History
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A concise history of the Liberal Party, SDP and Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats are the successors to two important reformist traditions in British politics - those of liberalism and of social democracy, which became separated from each other in the early p...

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Liberal Democrat History Group's Sound Archive

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National Sound Archive

The National Sound Archive at the British Library holds various recordings of key Liberal figures. ...

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The Liberals and Ireland since 1801

Underneath the surface of this [Irish question], and wrapped up in it, are nearly all the controversies of principle which will agitate the political atmosphere of our time. It is a microcosm of the ...

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Local history: Epsom & Ewell Social Democrats

David Gourley on joining the SDP in 1981 and working with the Liberals through the Alliance and merger. ...

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Preamble to Liberal Democrat constitution

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be e...

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The Liberal Democrats

The merger of the Liberals and the SDP was finally completed on 3 March 1988, when the new Social & Liberal Democrats (SLD) was formally launched following a majority vote by the memberships of b...

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Paddy Ashdown: The Chard Speech

Paddy Ashdown on realignment; the Guildhall, Chard, Somerset, 9 May 1992 ...

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Old heroes for a new leader

As we have done in each of the last two Liberal Democrat leadership elections, in 1999 and 2006, the Liberal Democrat History Group has asked both candidates for the Liberal Democrat leadership to wr...

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Biographies
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Biography of Baron Dahrendorf Ralf Gustav Dahrendorf


Dahrendorf, Ralf (Lord Dahrendorf)

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Biography of MP; Baron Maclennan of Rogart Robert Maclennan


Maclennan, Robert (Lord Maclennan)

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Biography of MP; Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank Bill Rodgers


Rodgers, Bill (Lord Rodgers)

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Biography of MP; Baroness Williams of Crosby Shirley Williams


Williams, Shirley (Lady Williams)

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Journal articles
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Landslide

(from journal ' Liberal Democrat History Group Newsletter 15 ')


The Labour Party's performance in the 1997 general election took even its most optimistic supporters by surprise. How does the result look when compared with previous election landslides? And what might happen now?

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What influences Liberal Democrats?

(from journal ' Liberal Democrat History Group Newsletter 8 ')


John Stuart Mill, Jo Grimond, green economists and the Suez crisis, according to this Liberal Democrat History Group survey of formative influences on leading Liberal Democrat politicians.
Duncan Brack

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Third Party Politics Since 1945

(from journal ' Liberal Democrat History Group Newsletter 2 ')


Review of John Stevenson, Third Party Politics Since 1945: Liberals, Alliance and Liberal Democrats

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Jo Grimond 1913-1993

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 80 ')


David Steel's commemoration lecture, given at Firth Kirk, Finstown, Orkney, 18 May 2013.

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L. T. Hobhouse and J. A. Hobson: New Liberal influence on Third Way ideas

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 55 ')


What did Tony Blair draw from the New Liberalism of the Hobhouse and Hobson?

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Elections 2007

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 56 ')


Analysis of the outcomes of the local, Scottish and Welsh elections of May 2007. What do they mean for the Liberal Democrats?

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The 2010 election in historical perspective

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 69 ')


Report of meeting of 19 September 2010; with John Curtice, Denis Kavanagh and James Gurling. Chair: Tony Little.

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Report: Does New Labour leave room for New Liberals?

(from journal ' Liberal Democrat History Group Newsletter 9 ')


Report of LDHG meeting of September 1995, on the New Liberal inheritance and its relevance to the political debate today, with Martin Kettle and John Curtice.

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Balancing family and politics

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 62 - Special issue: Women and Liberalism ')


Interview with Shirley Williams.

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Debate: Holding the balance

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 64 ')


An exchange of views between Duncan Brack and Roy Douglas on the desirability of a hung parliament and its possible impact on the Liberal Democrats.

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Report: What's left of Gladstonian Liberalism in the Liberal Democrats?

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 66 ')


Report of History Group meeting of 25 January 2010, with Dr Eugenio Biagini and Chris Huhne MP. Chair: William Wallace (Hon. President, Liberal Democrat History Group).

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The 2010 election

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 68 ')


Has the mould of British politics finally cracked?

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Liberals and local government in London since the 1970s

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 58 ')


Report of meeting of 4 February 2008, with Cllr Sir David Williams and Mike Tuffrey GLA.

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Campbell as Leader

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 60 ')


Interview with Menzies Campbell, Leader of the Liberal Democrats 2006-07, on his political career.

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Report: Liberal Democrats in Europe - 21 years of success or failure?

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 63 ')


Report of fringe meeting of 6 March 2009, with William Wallace and Sarah Ludford MEP.

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Interview: Cyril Smith

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 64 ')


An interview with Sir Cyril Smith MBE, the larger-than-life former MP for Rochdale and Chief Whip.

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The 1910 and 2010 elections

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 68 ')


Continuity and change in election campaigning.

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Report: Election 2005 in historical perspective

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 50 ')


with John Curtice, Andrew Russell and Chris Rennard

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Leader out of time

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 60 ')


Review of Menzies Campbell, My Autobiography.

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Selecting women candidates: a critical evaluation

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 62 - Special issue: Women and Liberalism ')


The Liberal Democrat record in selecting and supporting women candidates.

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Russell Johnston

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 71 ')


Biography of this passionate and articulate exponent of Liberalism.

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Elegant and concise

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 82 ')


Review of David Dutton, A History of the Liberal Party Since 1900 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd edition, 2013)

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The 2005 general election

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 52 ')


Reviews of Geddes & Tonge (eds.): Britain Decides The UK General Election 2005, Bartle & King (eds.): Britain at the Polls 2005, Kavanagh & Butler: The British General Election of 2005, Norris & Wlezien (eds.): Britain Votes 2005

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The Future of Politics

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal Democrat History 29 ')


Review of Charles Kennedy: The Future of Politics

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Long-term trends in public opinion and the rise of the Free Democratic Party

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 69 ')


Reflections on the 2009 parliamentary elections in Germany; by Natascha Zowislo-Grnewald and Franz Beitzinger.

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Report: Class of '81: who are the true heirs to the SDP?

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 71 ')


Report of Centre Forum meeting of March 2011, with Andrew Adonis, Chris Huhne MP and Greg Clark MP.

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The reluctant leader

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 53 ')


Review of Greg Hurst, Charles Kennedy: A Tragic Flaw

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Social Liberalism

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 60 ')


Review of Duncan Brack, Richard Grayson and David Howarth (eds), Reinventing the State: Social Liberalism for the 21st Century.

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Northern Liberal

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 66 ')


Review of Alan Beith, A View from the North (Northumbria University Press, 2008).

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Comprehensive Liberal history

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 73 ')


Review of Robert Ingham and Duncan Brack (eds.), Peace, Reform and Liberation: A History of Liberal Politics in Britain 16792011.

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'Remains to be seen'

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 78 ')


Review of Chris Bowers, Nick Clegg: The Biography (Biteback, 2011; paperback edition, 2012) and Jasper Gerard, The Clegg Coup (Gibson Square, 2011).

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The Orange Book revisited

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 79 ')


Review of 'Eight Years Since The Orange Book: Have the Liberal Democrats "reclaimed" Liberalism?' (Economic Affairs 32:2, June 2012).

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Survival and success: twenty-five years of the Liberal Democrats

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 81 ')


Report of a Liberal Democrat Conference fringe meeting, September 2013, with Paddy Ashdown, Duncan Brack, John Curtice, Mark Pack and Julie Smith.

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Liberal defectors identified and explored

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 82 ')


Review of Alun Wyburn-Powell, Defectors and the Liberal Party, 1910-2010: A Study of Inter-Party Relations (Manchester University
Press, 2012)

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Richard Holme remembered

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 63 ')


Review of Alison Holmes (ed.), A Liberal Mind in Action: Essays in Memory of Richard Holme.

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New Radicalism

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 67 - Special issue: Liberals and the left ')


... and the Liberal Democat Whig tendency.

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The history of the triple lock

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 72 - Special issue: The Liberal experience of coalition government ')


Where the 'triple lock' came from, how it worked and its future.

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Policy and ideology

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 73 ')


Review of Tudor Jones, The Revival of British Liberalism - From Grimond to Clegg.

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Liberal Sutton

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 79 ')


Review of A Flagship Borough: 25 years of a Liberal Democrat Sutton Council (Sutton Liberal Democrats, 2012).

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The Liberal Democrats today

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 56 ')


Review of Political Quarterly special issue on the Liberal Democrats

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Blair and Ashdown

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 67 - Special issue: Liberals and the left ')


Notes on a political relationship.

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The end of the affair

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 68 ')


Review of Mark Oaten, Screwing Up.

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Evolving the constitution

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal History 72 - Special issue: The Liberal experience of coalition government ')


Review of Vernon Bogdanor, The Coalition and the Constitution.

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Secret Society

(from journal ' Journal of Liberal Democrat History 25 - Special issue: Crossing the Floor ')


Review of Emma Nicholson: Secret Society.

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Events
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Survival and success: the first 25 years of the Liberal Democrats

Sunday 15 September 2013

This year, 2013, marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Liberal Democrats. From near-annihilation to entry into government, the years since 1988 have been a roller-coaster ride for the party.

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The progressive coalition that never was lessons from the Ashdown-Blair 'project'

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Between 1994 and 1999, Paddy Ashdown and Tony Blair led a process of collaboration between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party, with the aim not merely of defeating the Conservatives but of es...

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Peace, Reform and Liberation: launch of new Liberal history book

Monday 19 September 2011

Peace, Reform and Liberation is a comprehensive history of Liberal politics in Britain.
...

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Lords Reform 1911-2011

Friday 11 March 2011

The 1911 Parliament Act, introduced in the wake of the rejection by the House of Lords of Lloyd Georges Peoples Budget and the two general elections of 1910, was the first successful reform of the po...

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Election 2010 in historical perspective

Sunday 19 September 2010

The 2010 election must rank as one of the strangest in the history of the Liberal Democrats or its predecessor parties. Britains first-ever television debates saw the party catapulted into the front ...

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What's left of Gladstonian Liberalism in the Liberal Democrats?

Monday 25 January 2010

Since the publication of The Orange Book: Reclaiming Liberalism edited by David Laws and Paul Marshall in 2004, there has been an ongoing discussion in the Liberal Democrats about whether the party n...

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A delicate balance

Sunday 20 September 2009

The long-term decline in popularity of Labour and the Conservatives, and the growth in the number of third-party MPs at Westminster including mostly notably those of the Liberal Democrats means tha...

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Liberal Democrats in Europe, 21 years of success or failure?

Friday 6 March 2009

The Liberal Party and the SDP were the most pro-European of the British political parties. So how has their successor party fared in European politics since merger in 1988? How has the party adapted ...

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Salad days: merger twenty years on

Friday 7 March 2008

Twenty years ago a new political party was born from the merger of the Liberal and Social Democratic parties the Social & Liberal Democrats (or Salads, as the party was disparagingly nicknamed b...

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Liberals and local government in London since the 1970s

Monday 4 February 2008

Winning local elections has been a keystone in Liberal (Democrat) success in the years since the adoption of the community politics strategy at the Eastbourne Assembly in 1970. There have been many s...

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Yellow Book versus Orange Book: Is it time for a new New Liberalism?

Wednesday 20 September 2006

A hundred years ago, the Liberal landslide victory in the 1906 election opened the way for a period of radical social reform based on the social-liberal ideology of the New Liberalism.
...

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Election 2005 in historical perspective

Sunday 18 September 2005

The 2005 election saw the Liberal Democrats win a higher number of seats than at any time since 1923, and, for the second election in a row, gain both votes and seats after a period of Labour governm...

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Civil liberties in war and peace

Monday 24 January 2005

Law and order has long been a major issue in British politics.
...

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Liberal Party General Election campaigns after 1945

Monday 3 February 2003

With David Butler, longstanding co-author and author of the acclaimed Nuffield General Election studies, and Neil Stockley, former Director of Policy, Liberal Democrats.
...

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Old Liberals, New Liberals and Social Democrats

Monday 1 July 2002

At their Autumn Conference, the Liberal Democrats debated their core values and principles in detail for only the second time since the party was formed in 1988.
...

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Public Services or State Services? - The Liberal Legacy

Tuesday 19 February 2002

People are concerned as never before with the deterioration of the NHS, the quality and safety of rail services and the standard of education. With Labours promises of big improvements, its controver...

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Post-war Liberalism and the Politics of Race and Immigration

Monday 2 July 2001

In the run-up to the 2001 general election, the issues of asylum and race relations moved to centre stage, with Liberal Democrats winning plaudits for their firm stand against discrimination.
...

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Does New Labour leave room for New Liberals?

Sunday 17 September 1995

The reforming Liberal Governments of 1906-14 helped lay the foundations of the British welfare state; amongst other achievements, they introduced old age pensions, national insurance and the principl...

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Hung Parliaments and Coalition Governments: Learning the Lessons of History

Sunday 8 September 1991

The next election will see a bigger chance of a hung parliament than any fought over the last thirteen years. But what happens if the Liberal Democrats do end up holding the balance? ...

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Survival in the Balance: The Liberal Party after 1945

Monday 17 September 1990

Dr Stevenson examined the history of the Liberal Party after 1945, and its attempt to carve out an identity for itself in a hostile political world. He explored the historical dimension of the contin...

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Archives: libraries
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BLPES

Liberal Party Archives at the London School of Economics (BLPES) ...

archive url: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/archive/
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Bristol University Library

The Liberal Party collections at the University of Bristol Library originate from the acquisition in 1976 of the Gladstone Library of the National Liberal Club ...

archive url: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/is/
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Archives: individuals
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Adrian Slade's interviews with leading party figures

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archive url: http://www.markpack.org.uk/29338/adrian-slade-interviews/
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Owen, David

Owen's Papers at the University of Liverpool ...

archive url: http://sca.lib.liv.ac.uk/collections/
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Wainwright, Richard (1918-2003) and Lord Steel (1938-)

Project to catalogue the papers of Richard Wainwright and Lord David Steel at London School of Economics Archives ...

archive url: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/archives
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PhD theses
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An analysis of the reform of the House of Lords, 1911-2000

Supervisor: Professor Vernon B. Bogdanor

Oxford University , 2006

Citation form:
D.Phil

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British social democratic factionalism 1981-1996: case studies of the SDP 1981-88 and Liberal Democrats 1988-96


London Guildhall Ph.D. , 1996

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Seat-votes relationships in British general elections, 1955-97


Oxford, D.Phil , 2002

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The strange death of Labour England: collective provision and social cohesion in Southwark, 1950-2000

Supervisor - Professor Avner Offer

Oxford, M.Phil , 2002

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Research
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Policy position and Leadership Strategy within the Liberal Democrats: from Ashdown to Clegg

This thesis will be a study of the political positioning and leadership strategy of the Liberal Democrats. Consideration of the role of equidistance; development of policy from the point of merger; the influence and leadership strategies of each leader from Ashdown to Clegg; and electoral strategy from 1988-2015 will form the basis of the work. Any material relating to leadership election campaigns, election campaigns, internal party groups (for example the Social Liberal Forum) or policy documents from 1987 and merger talks onwards would be greatly welcomed. Personal insights and recollections also sought.

Samuel Barratt

Contact: pt10seb@leeds.ac.uk

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The Liberal Party's political communication, 1945-2002

Research on the Liberal party and Lib Dems' political communication. Any information welcome (including testimonies) about electoral campaigns and strategies.

Cynthia Boyer

Contact: CUFR Champollion, Place de Verdun, 81 000 Albi, France; +33 5 63 48 19 77; cynthia.boyer@univ-jfc.fr

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