Liberal Party (UK, 1989)

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This article is about the post 1989 Liberal Party. For the historical Liberal Party, see Liberal Party (UK).
Liberal Party
Leader Steve Radford
Chairman Sir Henry Boyle
Founded 1989 (1989)
Headquarters Liverpool
Ideology Liberalism
Political position Centre
Colours Orange and black
Local government
13 / 20,252

The Liberal Party is a United Kingdom political party that was founded in 1989 by members of the original Liberal Party opposed to its merger with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to form the Liberal Democrats.

As of 2016 the Liberal Party held 10 council seats at county and district level and 15 seats at parish level.[2] The party has no representation in the UK Parliament, nor Members of the European Parliament (MEP) or members of the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales.

At the 2001 General Election, the party's best result was coming second behind Labour in Liverpool West Derby, pushing the Liberal Democrats into third place. However, they were subsequently unable to repeat this.

As of 2015 the party president is Steve Radford and the party chairman is Sir Henry Boyle. The party anthem is The Land.

The party states that it exists:

"To build a Liberal Society in which every citizen shall possess liberty, property and security and none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. Its chief care is for the rights and opportunities of the individual, and in all spheres it sets freedom first."


The original Liberal Party entered into an alliance with the Social Democratic Party in 1981[3] and later merged with them in 1988–1989 to form the Liberal Democrats.[4] The Liberal Party, founded in 1859, were descended from the Whigs, Radicals and Peelites, while the SDP were a party created in 1982 by former Labour members, MPs and cabinet ministers, but also gained defections from Conservatives.[5]

A small minority of the Liberal Party, notably including former Member of Parliament (MP) Michael Meadowcroft (the last elected president of the Liberal Party), unhappy with what they saw as authoritarian and economic interventionist policies that veered away from traditional Liberal policies, resolved to continue with the Liberal Party.

The continuing Liberal Party included several councillors and entire council groups from the pre-1988 party which had never submitted to the merged party and continued as Liberals (hence the disputed foundation date), but no MPs. Since then, the number of Liberal councillors has been broadly constant.

In 2002, Meadowcroft stepped down from the party presidency and was replaced by Councillor Steve Radford. In 2007, Meadowcroft left and joined the Liberal Democrats.[6] In 2009, Radford stood down and was replaced as president of the party by former councillor Rob Wheway. Wheway served a year as leader; Radford was re-elected party president in 2010. In June 2015, Fran Oborski announced that she has left the continuing Liberal Party and has joined the Liberal Democrats.[7][8]

Party members take part in Liberal International (LI) activities though the Liberal International British Group.


The party put up a full slate of candidates in the North West England region for the 2004 European Parliament elections, coming seventh with 4.6% of the vote (0.6% of the total British popular vote).

In the 2009 European Parliament election, the Liberal Party's Steve Radford participated in the No2EU electoral alliance.[9]

Subsequently, the party supported the People's Pledge, a cross-party campaign calling for a referendum on UK membership of the EU.


The Liberal Party's highest policy-making body is its annual conference, the Liberal Party Assembly, at which all party members are entitled to vote. The Assembly is responsible for all policy decisions and constitutional changes.


The party suggests that Income tax should not be payable on earnings under £10,000, including a top rate of income tax of 50% on taxable earnings over £100,000; a system of 'Universal Inheritance' whereby all UK-born citizens at the age of 25 are paid a £10,000 'inheritance' at the age of 25, to be paid and repaid in the form of a reformed inheritance tax with a starting rate of 10%. The Liberal Party has a long-standing commitment to Land Value Taxation (see Stamp Duty Land Tax and Council Tax). The party supports greater resources being dedicated to tracing tax evasion and more relief against corporation tax in respect of capital expenditure.[10]

Overseas aid to be limited to 0.7% of GNP.

International relations[edit]

The Liberal Party’s constitution commits it to “build a United Europe”. The Liberal Party stated policy is that the European Union (EU) is in need of fundamental reform and identifies issues that are against UK national interests. The party would campaign for reforms to the advantage of the UK including consideration to withdraw from the EU; the Liberal Party is opposed to the adoption by the UK of the European currency, the euro. The party calls for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on the constitutional basis of the EU.

The party supports the work of the United Nations, but considers that the UN needs reform. The party proposes reforms including the reconstitution of the General Assembly and establishment of a second Assembly elected by people rather than by governments, with powers to endorse, amend or reject decisions of the General Assembly. It supports removal of major powers’ right to veto, and the Secretary General being able to take urgent action to enforce the Geneva Conventions.


The party suggests that Courts be given the additional power to initiate further investigation. Imprisonment for crimes against the person, or which put persons at risk of physical, psychological or emotional injury. The party supports the right to choose a trial by jury. The party opposes capital punishment, including the continued use of the death penalty overseas. The party believes magistrates and judges should reflect the values of British society and communities.


The party argues for the abandonment of the UK's weapons of mass destruction and increase in conventional armed forces. The UK defence forces should be professional armed forces, supplemented by volunteer part-time reservists, and exist for the defence of the peoples of the UK. At the 2011 assembly the party issued the following motion: 'Further, assembly deplores the redundancy notices issued to personnel in the Army and Royal Air Force on their return from active service. Assembly believes that the UK’s Armed Services have now been cut to a level which is below that which is consistent with the effective maintenance of national defence and international obligations. Assembly calls for an immediate cessation of the implementation of further defence cuts and, insofar as is possible, a return to pre-2010 levels of manpower, capability and funding as a first step, such increase in spending to be financed as a result of the immediate decommissioning of the UK’s nuclear weapons capability.'[11]

Constitutional matters[edit]

The party suggests reducing the voting age to 16; the introduction of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote; a predominantly elected Senate to replace the House of Lords.

The party opposes hereditary power and would remove all remaining political power from the monarchy. The monarch would retain a purely ceremonial role and no longer be head of the Church of England. Church and state would be separated, creating a secular system. Bishops would no longer be members of the House of Lords.

Civil liberties[edit]

The party promotes individual liberty and privacy, including controls on the illegitimate use of surveillance cameras, and of commercial exploitation of recordings of individuals on private or public property. The party calls for respect of privacy by the press and media and opposes misuse of libel law by the rich and powerful. The party proposes to limit libel liability to those with editorial control with an aim to establish facts and get corrections printed and supports the use of legal aid by ordinary citizens to enforce privacy rights. The party opposes the introduction of compulsory identity cards. The party supports establishment of a modern Bill of rights and a written Constitution.

The party supports repeal of legislation regarding non-prescription drugs and its replacement with a strategy of regulation, control and taxation with an increase in education and treatment services. The creation of an independent multi-agency co-ordinating body to oversee policy development; the dissemination of accurate information to minimise drug-related harm to individuals and communities. The aim is to close the criminal marketplace and cause a reduction in related crime and violence.

The party wishes to enable young adults to have responsibility and decision making at sixteen, including the right to vote, economic independence with a choice between work, further education, community service or a combination of all three. The party would provide grants for students which would also be extended to cover all types of training and for 16- to 17-year-olds to be able to claim housing benefits and income support, pending the introduction of a tax credit system.

The party supports peaceful protests; the collection of evidence for prosecution should be concentrated on groups or individuals that threaten the physical well-being of other people.

The party believes that individual freedom ought to extend to the right to die and so supports voluntary euthanasia, taking inspiration from the Netherlands.

Electoral performance[edit]

In the 2011 local council elections, eight Liberal councillors held their seats, three lost their seats and five new Liberal councillors were elected: a net gain of two.[12] In the two years to the May 2013 local elections, the number of Liberal councillors rose from 16 to 21.[2] In the 2013 elections, the party won three seats, a gain of one.[13]

Although the Liberal Party has retained many of its seats, it has not had a significant impact outside its strongholds of Ryedale, Liverpool and Yorkshire.

As of 2014 the Liberal Party held 21 council seats at county and district level and 15 seats at community level.[2] The party has no representation in the UK Parliament, nor Members of the European (MEP) or Scottish Parliaments. At the 2001 UK general election the party's best local result was coming second behind Labour in Liverpool West Derby, pushing the Liberal Democrats into third place. However, they were unable to repeat this at the 2005 general election, finishing third behind the Liberal Democrats in the constituency, but still beating the Conservatives; they repeated this position at the 2010 general election. In the 2015 general election they came fourth narrowly holding their deposit, ahead of the Liberal Democrats who came last and the Green Party but behind UK Independence Party and the Conservative Party.

The Liberal Party courted controversy in the 2015 General Election when the party in Cornwall decided to not contest any seats and urged its supporters to vote for the United Kingdom Independence Party.

Number of councillors[edit]

Year County District Total +/-
2003 5 22 27 Decrease3
2004 5 23 28 Increase1
2005 2 23 25 Decrease3
2006 2 24 26 Increase1
2007 2
2008 2
2009 2
2010 2
2011 2
2012 2
2013 3 18 21
2014 3 16 19 Decrease2
2015 16 Decrease3
2016 15 Decrease1

Totals include any in-year by-elections and defections, held/gain/loss are the changes since the start of the last municipal year. Figure from the BBC election results before 2003 lists Liberal Party seats amongst "Others" or "Independents".

Elected members[edit]

As of 2014 the Liberal Party had no members of the UK, Scottish, or European Parliaments.

District Councillors[edit]

Parish Councillors[edit]

As of 2015 the party had 14 councillors on parish, town and community councils in North Yorkshire, Devon, Cornwall, Wiltshire and Essex.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c The Liberal Party, Elected Councillors,, retrieved 2015-05-12 
  3. ^ "Britain's social party having marital trouble". The Lewiston Journal. 6 January 1982. p. 9. Retrieved 30 March 2016. 
  4. ^ The new party was named the "Social and Liberal Democrats" (SLD) in 1988. The name was changed to "Liberal Democrats" in 1989.
    "The Alliance: a chronology". 13 April 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "A concise history of the Liberal Parties, SDP and Liberal Democrats". Liberal Democrat History Group. 2007. Archived from the original on 29 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Meadowcroft, Michael (13 October 2007). "Opinion: Why I joined the Liberal Democrats". Lib Dem Voice. Retrieved 2015-05-09. 
  7. ^ Edwards, Tom (5 June 2015), "Retired, but still offering a solution", Worcester News, retrieved 2015-12-04 
  8. ^ Oborski, Fran (13 June 2015). "Tweet Number 609754603584925696". Twitter. Retrieved 2015-12-04. Delighted to have had so many messages congratulating me on MBE and welcoming me back to Lib Dems! 
  9. ^ Manson, Peter (27 May 2009). "No2EU fails the test". Weekly Worker (771). Retrieved 30 March 2016. 
  10. ^ "Liberal Party website". 
  11. ^ "Motions passed at the 2011 Liberal Party Assembly". The Liberal Party. 
  12. ^ " 2011 local results", Liberal Party website, archived from the original on 14 June 2011, retrieved 2015-12-04 
  13. ^ Vote 2013 English council results, 2013, archived from the original on 4 May 2013, retrieved 2015-12-04 
  14. ^ The Liberal Party, Elected Councillors,, archived from the original on 14 June 2011, retrieved 2015-12-04 

External links[edit]