Welsh Liberal Democrats
|Welsh Liberal Democrats
Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru
|Deputy leader||Roger Williams|
|Founded||3 March 1988|
|Youth wing||Ieuenctid Rhyddfrydol Cymru|
|Ideology||Liberalism, social liberalism, social democracy|
|Political position||Radical centre to centre-left|
|International affiliation||Liberal International|
|European affiliation||European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party|
|European Parliament group||Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe|
|House of Commons|
|Local government in Wales|
|Politics of Wales
The Welsh Liberal Democrats (Welsh: Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru) are one of the three state parties of the federal Liberal Democrats and operate within Wales, the others being the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Liberal Democrats in England.
They are led by Kirsty Williams AM, and hold 5 of 60 seats in the National Assembly for Wales and 3 of 40 Welsh seats in the UK Parliament, but none of four Welsh seats in the European Parliament.
Elected representatives (current)
|Assembly Member||Constituency or Region||First elected||Spokespersons|
|Kirsty Williams||Brecon and Radnorshire||1999||Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats|
|Peter Black||South Wales West||1999|
|Eluned Parrott||South Wales Central||2011|
|William Powell||Mid and West Wales||2011|
|Aled Roberts||North Wales||2011|
|Member of Parliament||Constituency||First elected||Notes|
|Roger Williams||Brecon and Radnorshire||2001|
|Jenny Willott||Cardiff Central||2005|
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
- Richard Livsey (1988–1992)
- Alex Carlile (1992–1997)
- Richard Livsey (1997–2001)
- Lembit Öpik (2001–2007)
- Mike German (2007–2008)
- Kirsty Williams (2008–present)
Welsh Liberal Democrat Officers
- President of the Welsh Liberal Democrats: Christine Humphreys
- Deputy President: Carole O'Toole
- Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats: Kirsty Williams
- Deputy Leader: Roger Williams
The youth wing of the party is IR Cymru (Liberal Youth Wales).
- Chair of IR Cymru: Samuel Bennett
The Liberal Council for Wales was founded by David Lloyd George in 1897. This makes the Welsh Liberals the oldest of the political parties in Wales. It was the first to establish a truly Welsh identity. During the late nineteenth and early twientieth century the Welsh Liberals acted as the home for radical Welsh nationalism. Through politicians such as T. E. Ellis and David Gee and the movement of Cymru Fydd (Wales to be) Welsh nationalism was comparable at times to that occurring in Ireland. Although in Wales the nationalist passion never spilled over into violence and was also counterbalanced by the strong English Liberal capitalist base present within the party. In 1906 the Welsh Liberals reached their peak when 35 of Wales 36 seats had MPs who took the Liberal whip. Up until 1922 the Welsh Liberal dominated Welsh politics and also played a central role in British politics. William Harcourt, Reginald McKenna, David Alfred Thomas, 1st Viscount Rhondda, Sir Alfred Mond and David Lloyd George were just a few of the politicians that held central positions in the party and the various Liberal led governments from 1906-1922. The various splits within the Liberal Party during from 1918 onwards, the rise of the Welsh Labour Party in South Wales and the dominance of Lloyd George over the Welsh Liberal party all had their impact on Welsh Liberal fortunes. Despite this it was in Wales that the pre-war Liberals support lasted longest in post war British politics.
In 1945 the party had 7 MPs in Wales. Mainly in Welsh speaking north, mid and west Wales seats. Two of these MPs - Gwilym Lloyd George (Pembrokeshire) and Megan Lloyd George (Anglesey) defected to the Conservative and Labour parties, respectively. Clement Davies, who held Montgomeryshire became the post war British Liberal leader. Davies died in 1962 and was succeeded by Emlyn Hooson, who then set about rebuilding the Welsh Liberal Party. When the last of the post war Welsh Liberal MP - Roderic Bowen (Cardiganshire) lost his seat in the 1966 general election Hooson, Lord Ogmore, Martin Thomas (Lord Thomas of Gresford), Roger Roberts (Lord Roberts of Llandudno) and Mary Murphy established the Welsh Liberal party as a separate state party within the Liberal Party's federal structure. After its establishment in September 1966 the Liberal Party in Wales had limited success and never really enjoyed the great Liberal revival that had occurred under Jo Grimond in Scotland. Geraint Howells election in Cardiganshire in February 1974 in Cardiganshire re-established the Liberal presence in that seat. In 1979, however, the Welsh Liberals suffered from the Lib-Lab pact and support for the failed devolution referendum resulted in a poor election for the Liberals with over half of the 28 seats it contested losing their deposit. More importantly Emlyn Hooson lost his Montgomeryshire seat leaving the Welsh party once more with one seat (Howells in Cardiganshire). Hooson would be ennobled later that year and join Howells once more at Westminster.
The arrival of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Wales gave the party an electoral boost, increased its representation on councils and helped retake the Montgomeryshire seat in 1983 (Alex Carlile) and win the Brecon and Radnor seat in a famous by-election in 1985 (Richard Livsey). In 1988 the SDP and Liberals merged in Wales and after various names the three Welsh MPs insisted on the name being Welsh Liberal Democrats, which set a precedent for the rest of the Liberal Party. In 1992 Howells lost his seat and went to the Lords, Livsey lost Brecon and Radnor, which he would retake again five years later. This left Alex Carlile as the sole Liberal Democrat MP. In 1996 Carlile announced his resignation and he was in turn replaced by Lembit Opik. When Carlile stood down it ended the direct link with the professional Liberal barrister MPs that had been existent in the Welsh Liberal party for its whole history. Carlile became Lord Carlile of Berriew in 1999. Followed in 2001 by Richard Livsey (of Talgarth) and Roger Roberts (of Llandudno) in 2004.
In the 1997 general election both Opik and Livsey won their respective seats. Both then went forward to support the successful 1997 Welsh Assembly referendum. They were joined in this campaign by other prominent figures in the Welsh party including Michael German, Jenny Randerson, Peter Black, Roger Williams and Rob Humphreys. With the exception of Humphrey's all of the others would soon gain electoral office either in the Welsh Assembly or Westminster Parliament. The Welsh Assembly elections in 1999 provided the party with six more elected representatives for Wales to join their two MPs, and three Welsh lords. At Westminster Roger Williams took over from Richard Livsey in Brecon and Radnor in 2001. In 2005 Mark Williams won the Ceredigion seat (formerly held by Geraint Howells) and Jenny Willott won the Cardiff Central seat. The later was the first Liberal urban seat victory in Wales since 1935 and the first female Liberal MP in Wales since 1951. These four MPs were also the highest since 1950 for the Liberal Party in Wales. It was Lembit Opik who now headed the party at Westminster.
In 1998 Michael German was elected as leader of the Welsh party. It was German who led who lead the new Assembly group. Between 2001 and 2003, the party were in a coalition with Welsh Labour Party in the National Assembly. In this Labour led government Michael German was Deputy Minister whilst Jenny Randerson also held a ministerial post. Randerson's post made her the first female Liberal in the party's history to hold ministerial office. The Welsh Liberal enjoyed a break through in local government in 2003, leading Swansea, Bridgend, Cardiff and Wrexham councils, with cabinet members on many more Welsh councils. In the 2003 Welsh Assembly elections the party remained stuck on six (Assembly Members) AMs. They remained on this figure in the 2007 elections and were reduced to five in the 2011 elections. In 2008 German stood down as leader and was replaced by Kirsty Williams (the AM for Brecon and Radnor) in a contest with Jenny Randerson (Cardiff Central). Both German and Randerson subsequently went to the House of Lords. Baroness Randerson become the first Welsh female Liberal peer ever to sit in the House of Lords. Her two predecessors Viscountess St Davids and the 2nd Viscountess Rhondda who had been ennobled in the earlier half of the twentieth century had died before women were allowed to sit in the House of Lords. Michael German was replaced as the South Wales East Assembly member by his wife Veronica German. In May 2011, however, Veronica German failed to get re-elected in South Wales East in an Assembly election that saw the Welsh Liberal Democrats reduced to just 5 AMs.
In September 2012 Baroness Randerson was appointed as the unpaid Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Wales Office. This was the first time a Welsh Liberal Democrat had held ministerial office at Westminster since 1945. Randerson was also the first female politician from the Welsh Liberals ever to hold a UK ministerial office.
- Allegra Stratton and Patrick Wintour. "Liberal Democrats to fight next election as totally independent party". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "Nick Clegg's speech to Spring Conference". Libdems.org.uk. 2011-03-13. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "Barred Lib Dem Aled Roberts regains Welsh assembly seat". Bbc.co.uk. 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- Your Assembly Members by Party
- "Montgomeryshire AM Mick Bates to face court hearing". BBC News. 2010-04-16. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "Welsh Liberal Democrats". Welshlibdems.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-13.