Liberal Democrat Frontbench Team
The Liberal Democrats are the third-largest political party in the United Kingdom. While in opposition, the Liberal Democrat leader appointed a team of Members of Parliament (MPs) and Peers to speak for the party on different issues. Their areas of responsibility broadly corresponded to those of Government ministers. The party called its frontbench the Liberal Democrat shadow ministerial team. The shadow ministerial team was divided into departmental sub-units, such as Education, Health and Foreign Affairs. The leader of each departmental team was a member of the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet.
Formerly, the Liberal Democrats frontbench team did not use the term 'Shadow Cabinet', with a number of front bench spokesmen covering areas (e.g., Defence and Foreign Affairs) rather than directly shadowing specific Cabinet portfolios. Under Charles Kennedy's leadership, and with the increase in numbers of Liberal Democrat MPs, the senior members of the front bench team referred to themselves as a Shadow Cabinet.
This was controversial, because in the two-party political system that dominated UK politics in the 20th century, the term 'Shadow Cabinet' referred to senior members of the frontbench team of the largest opposition party in the House of Commons. This party, known as the Official Opposition, has constitutional status, although its Shadow Cabinet does not. Following Charles Kennedy's decision to change the nomenclature, the UK Parliament's website now uses the term 'Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet' and does not use the old term 'Frontbench Team'.
This is not without contention, and was disputed by the Conservative Party, who were then the Official Opposition. However, the official listing at the Parliament website is very explicit to use the term 'Shadow Cabinet'. Gordon Brown made a notable remark that in the House of Commons in 2001:
The House of Commons is in the unique position of having two shadow Chancellors: one sits in Folkestone and the other in Truro. It is rather like the mediaeval papacy: two hon. Members claim to hold the position of shadow Chancellor. I shall organise a play-off during the year.
This is a theme to which then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown returned, comparing and contrasting his frosty relationship with the official Shadow Chancellor George Osborne with his apparently warm relationship with Vince Cable (whom he has referred to as "the Shadow Chancellor from Twickenham").
The Official Opposition receives support for its official function which is denied to smaller opposition parties, although they, along with every parliamentary party, do receive Short Money. Salaries are paid to the Opposition Leader and the Chief Whips but not to smaller opposition parties. Moreover, the Official Opposition has the exclusive use of facilities within Parliament.
Following the 2010 general election and the confirmation of Conservative David Cameron as Prime Minister on 11 May 2010, a coalition cabinet was formed that included Liberal Democrat ministers. The Page has been updated to reflect the September 2012 reshuffle.
Liberal Democrat Members of the Government
Previous Frontbench Teams
Previous team key-members in summary:
|Party||Date||Leader||Economy||Foreign affairs||Home affairs|
|Liberal||April 1966||Jo Grimond||Richard Wainwright||James Davidson|
|January 1967||Jeremy Thorpe||Richard Wainwright||James Davidson|
|June 1970||Jeremy Thorpe||John Pardoe||Russell Johnston|
|1975||Jeremy Thorpe||John Pardoe||David Steel|
|May 1976||Jo Grimond||John Pardoe||David Steel|
|July 1976||David Steel||John Pardoe||Jeremy Thorpe|
|1977||David Steel||John Pardoe||Jeremy Thorpe||Emlyn Hooson|
|May 1979||David Steel||Richard Wainwright||Russell Johnston|
|October 1981||David Steel||Richard Wainwright||Russell Johnston||Bill Pitt|
|June 1983||David Steel||Richard Wainwright||Russell Johnston|
|1985||David Steel||David Penhaligon||Alan Beith|
|January 1987||David Steel||Alan Beith|
|June 1987||David Steel||Alan Beith||Russell Johnston|
|March 1988||David Steel and
|Alan Beith||Russell Johnston||Robert Maclennan|
|July 1988||Paddy Ashdown||Alan Beith||Russell Johnston||Robert Maclennan|
|July 1989||Paddy Ashdown||Alan Beith||David Steel||Robert Maclennan|
|July 1994||Paddy Ashdown||Malcolm Bruce||Menzies Campbell||Alan Beith|
|August 1999||Charles Kennedy||Matthew Taylor||Menzies Campbell||Simon Hughes|
|June 2003||Charles Kennedy||Vince Cable||Menzies Campbell||Mark Oaten|
|January 2006||Menzies Campbell
|Vince Cable||Menzies Campbell||Mark Oaten|
|January 2006||Menzies Campbell
|Vince Cable||Menzies Campbell||Alistair Carmichael|
|March 2006||Menzies Campbell||Vince Cable||Michael Moore||Nick Clegg|
|October 2007||Vince Cable
|Vince Cable||Michael Moore||Nick Clegg|
|December 2007||Nick Clegg||Vince Cable||Ed Davey||Chris Huhne|
|May 2010||Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister)||David Laws (CS Treasury) / Vince Cable (Business Secretary)||Jeremy Browne (Minister of State, Foreign Office)||Lord Tom McNally (Minister of State, Justice)|
|May 2010||Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister)||Danny Alexander (CS Treasury) / Vince Cable (Business Secretary)||Jeremy Browne (Minister of State, Foreign Office)||Lord Tom McNally (Minister of State, Justice)|
|September 2012||Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister)||Danny Alexander (CS Treasury) / Vince Cable (Business Secretary)||Lynne Featherstone (PUS International Development)||Jeremy Browne (Minister of State, Home Office)|
|October 2013||Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister)||Danny Alexander (CS Treasury) / Vince Cable (Business Secretary)||Lynne Featherstone (PUS International Development)||Norman Baker (Minister of State, Home Office)|
|November 2014||Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister)||Danny Alexander (CS Treasury) / Vince Cable (Business Secretary)||Baroness Lyndsay Northover (PUS International Development)||Lynne Featherstone (Minister of State, Home Office)|
|January 2015 (General Election Cabinet)||Nick Clegg||Danny Alexander (spokesperson and CS Treasury)||Tim Farron (spokesperson) / Baroness Lyndsay Northover (PUS Int. Development)||Lynne Featherstone (spokesperson and Minister of State, Home Office)|
- Cabinet of the United Kingdom
- Her Majesty's Government frontbench
- Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet (United Kingdom)
- Official Opposition frontbench
- "Directory of MPs, Peers, Offices and Overseas Delegations". House of Commons Information Office. Archived from the original on 2 September 2006. Retrieved 4 September 2006.
- "Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet and Parliamentary Team". House of Commons Information Office. Archived from the original on 21 August 2006. Retrieved 4 September 2006.
- "UK Parliament". House of Commons Information Office – libdems. Archived from the original on 2 August 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2008.
- "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 27 Nov 2001 (pt 8)". The Stationery Office Ltd. 27 November 2001. Retrieved 4 September 2006.
- "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 16 Oct 2003 (pt 2)". 16 October 2003.
- The Liberal Democrats – Shadow Cabinet
- The Liberal Democrats – Shadow Ministers
- UK Parliament – Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet[dead link]