Leader of the Liberal Democrats

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Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Tim Farron 2016 (cropped).jpg
Tim Farron MP

since 16 July 2015
Member of
Appointer Liberal Democrats membership
Inaugural holder David Steel and Robert Maclennan
Formation 3 March 1988
Website libdems.org.uk/tim farron

The Liberal Democrats are a political party in the United Kingdom. Party members elect the Leader of the Liberal Democrats. Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament also elect a Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons, often colloquially referred to as 'the Deputy Leader'. Under the federal constitution of the Liberal Democrats the leader is required to be a member of the House of Commons.

Before the election of the first federal leader of the party (the Liberal Democrats having a federal structure in their internal party organisation), the leaders of the two parties which merged to form the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal Party and the SDP, served as joint interim leaders.

In the event that the leader dies, resigns or loses his or her seat in Parliament, the deputy leader serves as interim leader until a leadership election takes place. This has occurred twice, with Menzies Campbell serving as interim leader following the resignation of Charles Kennedy (Campbell was elected leader in the ensuing election) and Vince Cable serving as interim leader following Campbell's resignation.

List of Leaders and Deputy Leaders of the Liberal Democrats[edit]

Leader Deputy Leader Prime Minister
Portrait Term of office Name
Portrait Term of office
David Steel1
MP for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale

Bob Maclennan2
MP for Caithness and Sutherland
David Steel, October 2007.jpg 3 March 1988 –
16 July 1988
RobertMacLennan1987 cropped.jpg
1 Paddy Ashdown
MP for Yeovil
ASHDOWN Paddy.jpg 16 July 1988 –
9 August 1999
1 Russell Johnston
MP for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber
RussellJohnston2 cropped.jpg 16 July 1988 –
13 April 1992
2 Alan Beith
MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed
Alan Beith MP Liverpool.jpg 13 April 1992 –
12 February 2003
2 Charles Kennedy
MP for Ross, Skye and Inverness West until 2005
MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber from 2005
Charles Kennedy MP (cropped).jpg 9 August 1999 –
7 January 2006
3 Menzies Campbell
MP for North East Fife
Sir Ming Campbell MP 2008 cropped.jpg 12 February 2003 –
2 March 2006
3 Sir Menzies Campbell3
MP for North East Fife
Sir Ming Campbell MP 2008 cropped.jpg 2 March 2006 –
15 October 2007
4 Vincent Cable
MP for Twickenham
VinceCable2.jpg 29 March 2006 –
26 May 2010
Vincent Cable (acting.4)
MP for Twickenham
VinceCable2.jpg 15 October 2007 –
18 December 2007
4 Nick Clegg5
MP for Sheffield Hallam
Deputy Prime Minister: 2010–15
Nick Clegg by the 2009 budget cropped.jpg 18 December 2007 –
16 July 2015
5 Simon Hughes
MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark
Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties: 2013–15
Simon Hughes3.jpg 9 June 2010 –
28 January 2014
6 Sir Malcolm Bruce
MP for Gordon
Malcolm Bruce, September 2009 cropped.jpg 28 January 2014 –
7 May 2015
5 Tim Farron
MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale
Tim Farron 2016 (cropped).jpg 16 July 2015 –


Liberal Democrat Leaders in the House of Lords[edit]

The Liberal Democrat peers elect the Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords. The first four Leaders had been members of the Labour Party who left to form the Social Democratic Party in 1981 before merging with the Liberal Party in 1988. Lord Wallace of Tankerness had been a member of the Liberal Party before the merger. Lord Newby had been a civil servant before joining the SDP.

Leader in the House of Lords
# Leader Took office Left office
1 The Lord Jenkins of Hillhead
(Roy Jenkins)
Roy Jenkins, Chancellor of Oxford.jpg 16 July 1988 19 December 1997
2 The Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank
(William Rodgers)
No image.svg 19 December 1997 7 June 2001
3 The Baroness Williams of Crosby
(Shirley Williams)
Shirley Williams at Birmingham 2010.jpg 7 June 2001 24 November 2004
4 The Lord McNally
(Tom McNally)
Tom McNally at Bournemouth.jpg 24 November 2004 15 October 2013
5 The Lord Wallace of Tankerness
(Jim Wallace)
Jim Wallace.jpg 15 October 2013 13 September 2016
6 The Lord Newby
(Dick Newby)
Dick Newby.jpg 13 September 2016 to present

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nick Clegg resigns as Lib Dem leader". The Guardian. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "Every major British political party – except the Conservatives – currently led by a woman". The Independent. 9 May 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 


  • Federal Constitution of the Liberal Democrats

External links[edit]