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British Library of Political and Economic Science

Liberal Democratic Party


Reference code(s): GB 0097 LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Held at: British Library of Political and Economic Science

Title: Liberal Democratic Party

Date(s): [1930]-2000

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 142 boxes

Name of creator(s): Liberal Democratic Party


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Liberal Democratic Party, known as the Social and Liberal Democratic Party until 1989, is a political party formed in 1988 from the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. The two latter had previously formed a loose union (1981-1987) for electoral purposes, but failure in the 1987 General Election led to both parties voting for an official merger. The party operates separate but parallel English, Scottish, Welsh, and Federal party structures. In policy making, the Federal Conference, which meets twice a year, is formally sovereign, though much of the decisive influence over policy proposals put before conference is wielded by the Federal Policy Committee. The Policy Committee also has control over the process by which the party's election manifestos are drafted. It consists of the party leader, the party president, and representatives of the parliamentary party, the national parties, the local councillors, and the grass-roots organizations. The Federal Executive, chaired by the party president, oversees the party's general affairs. It consists of the party leader, the vice presidents, members of Parliament, local councillors, representatives of the national parties, members elected by the Federal Conference, and various other members. The rank and file party members have the right to elect the party leader and president, the right to vote in any consultative policy referendum called by the Federal Executive, and the right to vote for parliamentary candidates.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Liberal Democratic Party, [1930]-2000, including material relating to Liberal Democrat policy, [1970-1997], notably consultation papers, correspondence, policy briefings and minutes and papers of Green Papers Working Groups on topics such as the economy, tax and benefits, the environment, East-West relations, education, rural affairs, transport, crime and policing, local government, health, housing, disability, ethnic minorities and employment; bulletins, pamphlets publications produced by the Liberal Democrats, the SDP and the Liberal/SDP Alliance, [1980-1994]; election material, 1978-1995, such as manifestos, campaign papers and articles, including papers relating to the 1992 General Election and the 1994 European election; material relating to conferences, 1994-1995; papers concerning the Federal Party, 1988-1999, notably candidate manifestos produced for the 1999 Federal elections, and minutes of the Federal Policy Committee; printed material, [1985-2000], including conference reports, newsletters, leaflets and handbooks; later material regarding the Liberal Democrat leadership campaign, elections for Mayor of London and the London Assembly, and papers of the Defend Council Housing Campaign, 1994-2000.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The collection is mainly arranged in files created by the depositors.

Conditions governing access:

Apply to Archivist.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright is retained by the depositers and donors.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Temporary handlist and on-line catalogue available for parts of the collection. Later accessions are unlisted.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:



Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The collection comprises nine deposits by the Liberal Democrat Policy Unit, made in 1994, 1995, 1997 and 2000. Stuart Rayment made four deposits in January, July, October and November 2000, and Marc Leggett gave further material in October 2000.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Further material relating to the Liberal Democrats held at the British Library of Political and Economic Science may be found in the papers of Paddy Ashdown (Ref: Ashdown), Sir David Martin Scott Steel (Ref: Steel), the Centre for Reform, the Liberal Movement, the Liberal Party, the liberal/SDP Alliance and Professor James Edward Meade (Ref: Meade).

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Sources: British library of Political and Economic Science Archives catalogue. Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Feb 2001

Elections | Electoral systems | Internal politics
Political parties | Internal politics
Politics | Political science

Personal names

Corporate names
Defend Council Housing Campaign
Liberal Democratic Party x Liberal/SDP Alliance
Liberal Democratic Party | Federal Policy Committee
London Assembly
SDP | Social Democratic Party