British Liberal Leaders

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The British Liberal Party, and its successor, the Liberal Democrats, has a good claim to be the oldest political party in the world. From the Whigs of 1679 to the formation of the Liberal Party in 1859, and then to 1988 and the merger with the Social Democratic Party to form today’s Liberal Democrats, politicians of all these labels held to a core of liberal principles: the belief in individual liberty; the quest for an equitable society at home and abroad; and the pursuit of reform, in the economic and social spheres as well as the political, with the aim of enlarging freedom for all.This book is the story of those parties’ leaders, from Earl Grey, who led the Whigs through the Great Reform Act of 1832, to Nick Clegg, the first Liberal leader to enter government for more than sixty years. Chapters written by experts in Liberal history cover such towering political figures as Palmerston, Gladstone, Asquith and Lloyd George; those, such as Sinclair, Clement Davies and Grimond, who led the party during its darkest hours; and those who led its revival, including David Steel, Roy Jenkins and Paddy Ashdown.Interviews with recent leaders are included, along with an analysis of the characteristics required to be an effective Liberal leader.