Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom. The governing party since 2010, it is the largest in the House of Commons, with 313 Members of Parliament, has 249 members of the House of Lords, 18 members of the European Parliament, 31 Members of the Scottish Parliament, 12 members of the Welsh Assembly, eight members of the London Assembly and 8,916 local councillors; the Conservative Party was founded in 1834 from the Tory Party—the Conservatives' colloquial name is "Tories"—and was one of two dominant political parties in the nineteenth century, along with the Liberal Party. Under Benjamin Disraeli it played a preeminent role in politics at the height of the British Empire. In 1912, the Liberal Unionist Party merged with the party to form the Conservative and Unionist Party. In the 1920s, the Labour Party surpassed the Liberals as the Conservatives' main rivals. Conservative Prime Ministers — notably Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher — led governments for 57 years of the twentieth century.
Positioned on the centre-right of British politics, the Conservative Party is ideologically conservative. Different factions have dominated the party at different times, including One Nation Conservatives and liberal conservatives, while its views and policies have changed throughout its history; the party has adopted liberal economic policies—favouring free market economics, limiting state regulation, pursuing privatisation—although in the past has supported protectionism. The party is British unionist, opposing both Irish reunification and Welsh and Scottish independence, supported the maintenance of the British Empire; the party includes those with differing views on the European Union, with Eurosceptic and pro-European wings. In foreign policy, it is for a strong national defence; the Conservatives are a member of the International Democrat Union and the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe and sit with the European Conservatives and Reformists parliamentary group. The Scottish, Northern Irish and Gibraltan branches of the party are semi-autonomous.
Its support base consists of middle-class voters in rural areas of England, its domination of British politics throughout the twentieth century has led to it being referred to as one of the most successful political parties in the Western world. The Conservative Party was founded in the 1830s. However, some writers trace its origins to the reign of Charles II in the 1670s Exclusion Crisis. Other historians point to a faction, rooted in the 18th century Whig Party, that coalesced around William Pitt the Younger in the 1780s, they were known as "Independent Whigs", "Friends of Mr Pitt", or "Pittites" and never used terms such as "Tory" or "Conservative". Pitt died in 1806. From about 1812 on the name "Tory" was used for a new party that, according to historian Robert Blake, "are the ancestors of Conservatism". Blake adds that Pitt's successors after 1812 "were not in any sense standard-bearer's of true Toryism"; the term "Conservative" was suggested as a title for the party by a magazine article by J. Wilson Croker in the Quarterly Review in 1830.
The name caught on and was adopted under the aegis of Sir Robert Peel around 1834. Peel is acknowledged as the founder of the Conservative Party, which he created with the announcement of the Tamworth Manifesto; the term "Conservative Party" rather than Tory was the dominant usage by 1845. The widening of the electoral franchise in the nineteenth century forced the Conservative Party to popularise its approach under Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby and Benjamin Disraeli, who carried through their own expansion of the franchise with the Reform Act of 1867. In 1886, the party formed an alliance with Spencer Compton Cavendish, Lord Hartington and Joseph Chamberlain's new Liberal Unionist Party and, under the statesmen Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Lord Salisbury and Arthur Balfour, held power for all but three of the following twenty years before suffering a heavy defeat in 1906 when it split over the issue of free trade. Young Winston Churchill denounced Chamberlain's attack on free trade, helped organize the opposition inside the Unionist/Conservative Party.
Balfour, as party leader, followed Chamberlain's policy introduced protectionist legislation. The high tariff element called itself "Tariff Reformers" and in a major speech in Manchester on May 13, 1904, Churchill warned their takeover of the Unionist/Conservative party would permanently brand it as: A party of great vested interests, banded together in a formidable confederation. Two weeks Churchill crossed the floor and formally joined the Liberal Party. )He rejoined the Conservatives in 1925.) In December, Balfour lost control of his party, as the defections multiplied. He was replaced by Liberal Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman who called an election in January 1906, which produced a massive Liberal victory with a gain of 214 seats. Liberal Prime Minister H. H. Asquith enacted a great deal of reform legislation, but the Unionists worked hard at grassroots organizing. Two general elections were held in one in January and one in December; the two main parties were now dead equal in seats.
The Unionists had more popular votes but the Liberals kept control with a coalition with the Irish Parliamentary Party. In 1912, the Liberal Unionis
Warwickshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick; the county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The county is divided into five districts of North Warwickshire and Bedworth, Rugby and Stratford-on-Avon; the current county boundaries were set in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972. The historic county boundaries include Solihull, as well as much of Birmingham; the county is bordered by Leicestershire to the northeast, Staffordshire to the northwest and the West Midlands to the west, Northamptonshire to the east and southeast, Gloucestershire to the southwest and Oxfordshire to the south. The northern tip of the county is only 3 miles from the Derbyshire border. An average-sized English county covering an area of 2,000 km2, it runs some 60 miles north to south. Equivalently it extends as far north as Shrewsbury in Shropshire and as far south as Banbury in north Oxfordshire; the majority of Warwickshire's population live in the centre of the county.
The market towns of northern and eastern Warwickshire were industrialised in the 19th century, include Atherstone, Bedworth and Rugby. Of these, Atherstone has retained most of its original character. Major industries included coal mining, textiles and cement production, but heavy industry is in decline, being replaced by distribution centres, light to medium industry and services. Of the northern and eastern towns, only Nuneaton and Rugby are well known outside of Warwickshire; the prosperous towns of central and western Warwickshire including Royal Leamington Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon, Alcester and Wellesbourne harbour light to medium industries and tourism as major employment sectors. The north of the county, bordering Staffordshire and Leicestershire, is mildly undulating countryside and the northernmost village, No Man's Heath, is only 34 miles south of the Peak District National Park's southernmost point; the south of the county is rural and sparsely populated, includes a small area of the Cotswolds, at the border with northeast Gloucestershire.
The plain between the outlying Cotswolds and the Edgehill escarpment is known as the Vale of Red Horse. The only town in the south of Warwickshire is Shipston-on-Stour; the highest point in the county, at 261 m, is Ebrington Hill, again on the border with Gloucestershire, grid reference SP187426 at the county's southwest extremity. There are no cities in Warwickshire since both Coventry and Birmingham were incorporated into the West Midlands county in 1974 and are now metropolitan authorities in themselves; the largest towns in Warwickshire in 2011 were: Nuneaton, Leamington Spa, Warwick and Kenilworth. Much of western Warwickshire, including that area now forming part of Coventry and Birmingham, was covered by the ancient Forest of Arden, thus the names of a number of places in the central-western part of Warwickshire end with the phrase "-in-Arden", such as Henley-in-Arden, Hampton-in-Arden and Tanworth-in-Arden. The remaining area, not part of the forest, was called the Felden – from fielden.
Areas part of Warwickshire include Coventry, Sutton Coldfield and some of Birmingham including Aston and Edgbaston. These became part of the metropolitan county of West Midlands following local government re-organisation in 1974. In 1986 the West Midlands County Council was abolished and Birmingham and Solihull became effective unitary authorities, however the West Midlands county name has not been altogether abolished, still exists for ceremonial purposes, so the town and two cities remain outside Warwickshire; some organisations, such as Warwickshire County Cricket Club, based in Edgbaston, in Birmingham, still observe the historic county boundaries. The flag of the historic county was registered in October 2016, it is a design of a bear and ragged staff on a red field, long associated with the county. Coventry is in the centre of the Warwickshire area, still has strong ties with the county. Coventry and Warwickshire are sometimes treated as a single area and share a single Chamber of Commerce and BBC Local Radio Station.
Coventry has been a part of Warwickshire for only some of its history. In 1451 Coventry was separated from Warwickshire and made a county corporate in its own right, called the County of the City of Coventry. In 1842 the county of Coventry was abolished and Coventry was remerged with Warwickshire. In recent times, there have been calls to formally re-introduce Coventry into Warwickshire, although nothing has yet come of this; the county's population would increase by a third-of-a-million overnight should this occur, Coventry being the UK's 11th largest city. The town of Tamworth was divided between Warwickshire and Staffordshire, but since 1888 has been in Staffordshire. In 1931, Warwickshire gained the town of Shipston-on-Stour from Worcestershire and several villages, including Long Marston and Welford-on-Avon, from Gloucestershire. Warwickshire contains a large expanse of green belt area, surrounding the West Midlands and Coventry conurbations, was first drawn up from the 1950s. All the county's districts contain some portion of the belt.
The following towns and villages in Warwickshire have populations of over 5,000. Warwickshire came into being as a divisio
BBC News Online
BBC News Online is the website of BBC News, the division of the BBC responsible for newsgathering and production. The website contains international news coverage, as well as British, entertainment and political news. Many reports are accompanied by audio and video from the BBC's television and radio news services, while the latest TV and radio bulletins are available to view or listen to on the site together with other current affairs programmes. BBC News Online is linked to its sister department website, that of BBC Sport. Both sites follow similar layout and content options and respective journalists work alongside each other. Location information provided by users is shared with the website of BBC Weather to provide local content. From 1998 to 2001 the site was named best news website at the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Awards when the award category was withdrawn, it has won both the Judges' award and the People's Voice award for best news site at the annual Webby Awards. The website was launched on 4 November 1997, headed by founding editor Mike Smartt and Project Director Bob Eggington.
The broader editorial team was brought together from within the BBC, from print journalism and from some online sites. The BBC had created special websites marking the 1995 Budget, the 1996 Olympic Games, 1997 general election, the death of Princess Diana in 1997, but nothing on the scale of the launch of the main site itself, which required the development of a new production system, for which a team, led by Matthew Karas was specially hired; the original design was created by a team, including Matt Jones, based on designs commissioned from consultancy Lambie-Nairn, has been redesigned several times to match the visual style of BBC News television bulletins and to exploit increases in readers' typical screen resolutions. A major overhaul in 2003 by Paul Sissons and Maire Flynn, coincided with a relaunch of the BBC News Channel and featured a wider page design; the site launched a set of semi-official RSS 0.91 syndication feeds in June 2003 and upgraded them to full feed RSS 2.0 in 2008. Each news index has its own RSS feed, including the in-depth sections.
In 2004 the BBC News website partnered with Moreover Technologies, in a response to the 2003 Graf Report, to provide links from BBC articles to rival publishers. Whilst the BBC does not censor or change results the algorithms used tend to give greater weight to national and international sources over regional or local ones. Mike Smartt, who became editor in chief in 2000, was succeeded by Pete Clifton, subsequently promoted to Head of BBC News Interactive and replaced by the previous editor Steve Herrmann in 2005; the BBC began providing real-time global user information in June 2006. A restructuring of BBC News starting in 2007 saw the dissolution of the separate BBC News Interactive department. New features were introduced, including the publicising of video content more prominently. From May 2007, the website began to offer a live video stream of BBC News 24, the rolling news channel now known as the BBC News channel. In line with the introduction of new features across BBC Online, including a new navigation bar, the site was updated in 2008 with wider centred page designs, larger images and an increased emphasis on audio and visual content.
Beginning on 30 April 2009, some published stories included in-text links to in-site profile articles on people and organisations. The BBC announced on 19 November 2009 that it was to pay more attention to search engine optimisation by extending news headlines. On 14 July 2010 the site was redesigned, with the vertical section headings moved to run horizontally near the top of the page; the new design, incorporating larger in-line videos within news articles and standardised font usage, was introduced as a first step to bringing the entire BBC website into line with its new style guidelines. It was met with mixed opinions. However, there was criticism, with some stating that the use of white space was too widespread and led to the need for continuous and excessive scrolling. On 4 March 2014, the BBC launched a beta version of the website, built around the principles of responsive web design, allowing the presentation of content to adjust automatically for a wide variety of screen sizes, from desktop computer to smartphones and tablet devices.
The new design went live on 23 March 2015. There are two different editions of the site: a UK edition, which gives prominence to UK stories, an international edition, which prioritises international news. Internet users with IP addresses originating from the UK are served the UK edition, all others receive the international edition; the international version contains an "Advertise With Us" link at the bottom. The international version of the website is operated by BBC Global News Ltd. the for-profit BBC subsidiary which operates the BBC World News television channel. All articles are archived indefinitely and can be retrieved via searching or by browsing the extensive Special Reports section, which contains collections of articles relating to major news stories; the previous seven days' top stories were available through the Week at a Glance section of the website. As well as pure news articles, the site contains material to support BBC news, current affairs and factual programmes. BBC News Online uses a blog-style system for correspondents to write articles within their specialism.
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom, described as an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists and trade unionists. The party's platform emphasises greater state intervention, social justice and strengthening workers' rights; the Labour Party was founded in 1900, having grown out of the trade union movement and socialist parties of the nineteenth century. It overtook the Liberal Party to become the main opposition to the Conservative Party in the early 1920s, forming two minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in the 1920s and early 1930s. Labour served in the wartime coalition of 1940-1945, after which Clement Attlee's Labour government established the National Health Service and expanded the welfare state from 1945 to 1951. Under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, Labour again governed from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1979. In the 1990s Tony Blair took Labour closer to the centre as part of his "New Labour" project, which governed the UK under Blair and Gordon Brown from 1997 to 2010.
After Corbyn took over in 2015, the party has moved leftward. Labour is the Official Opposition in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, having won the second-largest number of seats in the 2017 general election; the Labour Party is the largest party in the Welsh Assembly, forming the main party in the current Welsh government. The party is the third largest in the Scottish Parliament. Labour is a member of the Party of European Socialists and Progressive Alliance, holds observer status in the Socialist International, sits with the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament; the party includes semi-autonomous Scottish and Welsh branches and supports the Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland. As of 2017, Labour had the largest membership of any party in Western Europe; the Labour Party originated in the late 19th century, meeting the demand for a new political party to represent the interests and needs of the urban working class, a demographic which had increased in number, many of whom only gained suffrage with the passage of the Representation of the People Act 1884.
Some members of the trades union movement became interested in moving into the political field, after further extensions of the voting franchise in 1867 and 1885, the Liberal Party endorsed some trade-union sponsored candidates. The first Lib–Lab candidate to stand was George Odger in the Southwark by-election of 1870. In addition, several small socialist groups had formed around this time, with the intention of linking the movement to political policies. Among these were the Independent Labour Party, the intellectual and middle-class Fabian Society, the Marxist Social Democratic Federation and the Scottish Labour Party. At the 1895 general election, the Independent Labour Party put up 28 candidates but won only 44,325 votes. Keir Hardie, the leader of the party, believed that to obtain success in parliamentary elections, it would be necessary to join with other left-wing groups. Hardie's roots as a lay preacher contributed to an ethos in the party which led to the comment by 1950s General Secretary Morgan Phillips that "Socialism in Britain owed more to Methodism than Marx".
In 1899, a Doncaster member of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, Thomas R. Steels, proposed in his union branch that the Trade Union Congress call a special conference to bring together all left-wing organisations and form them into a single body that would sponsor Parliamentary candidates; the motion was passed at all stages by the TUC, the proposed conference was held at the Memorial Hall on Farringdon Street on 26 and 27 February 1900. The meeting was attended by a broad spectrum of working-class and left-wing organisations—trades unions represented about one third of the membership of the TUC delegates. After a debate, the 129 delegates passed Hardie's motion to establish "a distinct Labour group in Parliament, who shall have their own whips, agree upon their policy, which must embrace a readiness to cooperate with any party which for the time being may be engaged in promoting legislation in the direct interests of labour." This created an association called the Labour Representation Committee, meant to co-ordinate attempts to support MPs sponsored by trade unions and represent the working-class population.
It had no single leader, in the absence of one, the Independent Labour Party nominee Ramsay MacDonald was elected as Secretary. He had the difficult task of keeping the various strands of opinions in the LRC united; the October 1900 "Khaki election" came too soon for the new party to campaign effectively. Only 15 candidatures were sponsored. Support for the LRC was boosted by the 1901 Taff Vale Case, a dispute between strikers and a railway company that ended with the union being ordered to pay £23,000 damages for a strike; the judgement made strikes illegal since employers could recoup the cost of lost business from the unions. The apparent acquiescence of the Conservative Government of Arthur Balfour to industrial and business interests intensified support for the LRC against a government that appeared to have little concern for the industrial proletariat and its problems. In the 1906 election, the LRC won 29 seats—helped by a secret 1903 pact between Ramsay MacDonald and Liberal Chief Whip Herbert Gladstone that aimed to avoid splitting the opposition vote between Labour and Liberal candidates in the interest of removing the Conservatives from office.
In their first meeting after the election the group's Members of Parliament decided to adop
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
1998 United Kingdom local elections
Local elections took place in many parts of England on 7 May 1998. All London borough council seats were elected as well a third of the seats on each of the Metropolitan Boroughs; some unitary authorities and District councils had elections. There were no local elections in Wales or Northern Ireland; these elections took place on the same day as the referendum on establishing the Greater London Authority. The governing Labour Party, contesting its first national elections since returning to government 12 months enjoyed great success, now having control of 94 councils, with the second placed Liberal Democrats now controlling 14 and the opposition Conservatives a mere eight. In all 32 London boroughs the whole council was up for election. All 36 English Metropolitan borough councils had one third of their seats up for election; the whole of the Isle of Wight council was up for election. In 9 English Unitary authorities one third of the council was up for election. In 88 English district authorities one third of the council was up for election.
‡ New ward boundaries Vote 1998 BBC News The local elections of 7 May 1998 and the London referendum. House of Commons Library Research Paper 98/59. "Local Elections results", The Times 9 May 1998 page 46
Liberal Democrats (UK)
The Liberal Democrats are a liberal political party in the United Kingdom. They have 11 Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, 96 members of the House of Lords, one member of the European Parliament, five Members of the Scottish Parliament and one member in the Welsh Assembly and London Assembly. At the height of its influence, the party formed a coalition government with the Conservative Party from 2010 to 2015 with its leader Nick Clegg serving as Deputy Prime Minister, it is led by Sir Vince Cable. In 1981, an electoral alliance was established between the Liberal Party, a group, the direct descendent of the 18th-century Whigs, the Social Democratic Party, a splinter group from the Labour Party. In 1988 this alliance was formalised as the Liberal Democrats. Under the leadership of Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy, the party grew during the 1990s and 2000s, focusing its campaigning on specific seats and becoming the third largest party in the House of Commons. Under its leader Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrats were junior partners in a coalition government headed by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, with Clegg serving as Deputy Prime Minister.
The coalition damaged the Liberal Democrats' electoral prospects: the party was reduced from 57 to 8 seats at the 2015 election. Positioned in the centre ground of British politics, the Liberal Democrats are ideologically liberal. Emphasising stronger protections for civil liberties, the party promotes liberal approaches to issues like LGBT rights, education policy, criminal justice. Different factions take different approaches to economic issues; the party is pro-Europeanist, supporting continued UK membership of the European Union and greater European integration. It calls for electoral reform with a transition from the first-past-the-post voting system to one of proportional representation. Other policies have included further environmental protections and drug liberalisation laws, while it has opposed certain UK military engagements like the Iraq War; the party is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and Liberal International. The Liberal Democrats are strongest in northern Scotland, southwest London, southwest England, mid-Wales.
The Liberal Democrats were formed on 3 March 1988 by a merger between the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party, which had formed a pact nearly seven years earlier as the SDP–Liberal Alliance. The Liberal Party, founded in 1859, were descended from the Whigs and Peelites, while the SDP were a party created in 1981 by former Labour Party members, MPs and cabinet ministers, but gained defections from the Conservative Party. Having declined to third party status after the rise of the Labour Party from 1918 and during the 1920s, the Liberals were challenged for this position in the 1980s when a group of Labour MPs broke away and established the Social Democratic Party; the SDP and the Liberals realised that there was no space for two political parties of the centre and entered into the SDP–Liberal Alliance so that they would not stand against each other in elections. The Alliance was led by Roy Jenkins; the two parties had their own policies and emphases, but produced a joint manifesto for the 1983 and 1987 general elections.
Following disappointing results in the 1987 election, Steel proposed to merge the two parties. Although opposed by Owen, it was supported by a majority of members of both parties, they formally merged in March 1988, with Steel and Robert Maclennan as joint interim leaders; the new party was named Social and Liberal Democrats with the unofficial short form The Democrats being used from September 1988. The name was subsequently changed to Liberal Democrats in October 1989, shortened to Lib Dems; the new party logo, the Bird of Liberty, was adopted in 1989. The minority of the SDP who rejected the merger remained under Owen's leadership in a rump SDP. Michael Meadowcroft joined the Liberal Democrats in 2007 but some of his former followers continue still as the Liberal Party, most notably in a couple of electoral wards of the cities of Liverpool and Peterborough; the then-serving Liberal MP Paddy Ashdown was elected leader in July 1988. At the 1989 European Elections, the party received only 6% of the vote, putting them in fourth place after the Green Party.
They failed to gain a single Member of the European Parliament at this election. Over the next three years, the party recovered under Ashdown's leadership, they performed better at the 1990 local elections and in by-elections—including at Eastbourne in 1990 which saw the first success by a Liberal Democrat standing for parliament. They had further successes in Ribble Valley and Kincardine & Deeside in 1991; the Lib Dems did not reach the share of national votes in the 1990s that the Alliance had achieved in the 1980s. At their first election in 1992, they won 17.8 % of twenty seats. In the 1994 European Elections, the party gained its first two Members of European Parliament. Following the election of Tony Blair as Labour leader in July 1994 after the death of his predecessor John Smith, Ashdown pursued co-operation between the two parties becaus