Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west; the county shares borders with Essex along the estuary of the River Thames, with the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone. Canterbury Cathedral in Kent has been the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England, since the Reformation. Prior to that it was built by Catholics, dating back to the conversion of England to Catholicism by Saint Augustine that began in the 6th century. Before the English Reformation the cathedral was part of a Benedictine monastic community known as Christ Church, Canterbury, as well as being the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury; the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury was Reginald Pole. Rochester Cathedral is in Kent, in Medway, it is the second-oldest cathedral in England, with Canterbury Cathedral being the oldest. Between London and the Strait of Dover, which separates it from mainland Europe, Kent has seen both diplomacy and conflict, ranging from the Leeds Castle peace talks of 1978 and 2004 to the Battle of Britain in World War II.
England relied on the county's ports to provide warships through much of its history. France can be seen in fine weather from Folkestone and the White Cliffs of Dover. Hills in the form of the North Downs and the Greensand Ridge span the length of the county and in the series of valleys in between and to the south are most of the county's 26 castles; because of its relative abundance of fruit-growing and hop gardens, Kent is known as "The Garden of England". Kent's economy is diversified. In northwest Kent industries include extraction of aggregate building materials and scientific research. Coal mining has played its part in Kent's industrial heritage. Large parts of Kent are within the London commuter belt and its strong transport connections to the capital and the nearby continent makes Kent a high-income county. Twenty-eight per cent of the county forms part of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: the North Downs and The High Weald; the name Kent is believed to be of British Celtic origin and was known in Old English as Cent, Cent lond, Centrice.
In Latin sources Kent is mentioned as Canticum. The meaning is explained by some researchers as "coastal district," or "corner-land, land on the edge". If so, the name could be etymologically related to the placename Cantabria a Celtiberian-speaking coastal region in pre-Roman Iberia, today a province of Spain; the area has been occupied since the Palaeolithic era, as attested by finds from the quarries at Swanscombe. The Medway megaliths were built during the Neolithic era. There is a rich sequence of Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman era occupation, as indicated by finds and features such as the Ringlemere gold cup and the Roman villas of the Darent valley; the modern name of Kent is derived from the Brythonic word kantos meaning "rim" or "border", or from a homonymous word kanto "horn, hook". This describes the eastern part of the current county area as coastal district. Julius Caesar had described the area as um, or home of the Cantiaci in 51 BC; the extreme west of the modern county was by the time of Roman Britain occupied by Iron Age tribes, known as the Regnenses.
Caesar wrote that the people of Kent are'by far the most civilised inhabitants of Britain'. East Kent became a kingdom of the Jutes during the 5th century and was known as Cantia from about 730 and recorded as Cent in 835; the early medieval inhabitants of the county were known as the Kent people. These people regarded the city of Canterbury as their capital. In 597, Pope Gregory I appointed the religious missionary as the first Archbishop of Canterbury. In the previous year, Augustine converted the pagan King Æthelberht of Kent to Christianity; the Diocese of Canterbury became England's first Episcopal See with first cathedral and has since remained England's centre of Christianity. The second designated English cathedral was in Kent at Rochester Cathedral. In the 11th century, the people of Kent adopted the motto Invicta, meaning "undefeated" or "unconquered"; this naming followed the invasion of Britain by William of Normandy. The Kent people's continued resistance against the Normans led to Kent's designation as a semi-autonomous county palatine in 1067.
Under the nominal rule of William's half-brother Odo of Bayeux, the county was granted similar powers to those granted in the areas bordering Wales and Scotland. Kent was traditionally partitioned into East and West Kent, into lathes and hundreds; the traditional border of East and West Kent was the Medway. Men and women from east of the Medway are Men of Kent, those from the west are Kentishmen or Kentish Maids. During the medieval and early modern period, Kent played a major role in several of England's most notable rebellions, including the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, led by Wat Tyler,Jack Cade's Kent rebellion of 1450, Wyatt's Rebellion of 1554 against Queen Mary I; the Royal Navy first used the River Medway in 1547. By the reign of Elizabeth I a small dockyard had been established at Chatham. By 1618, storehouses, a ropewalk, a drydock, houses for officials had
Lingfield is a village, civil parish and post town in the Tandridge district of Surrey, England. Lingfield Park is home to horse racing across a large catchment from Folkestone to Epsom. Lingfield is centred 23.4 miles south of London and lies to the east of the A22 where it runs between Godstone and East Grinstead. The village has a medieval church, Grade I listed, timber-frame architecture from the Tudor period and century before and a punishment cage, last used in 1882 to hold a poacher, made in 1773; the village lay within the Anglo-Saxon administrative division of Tandridge hundred. Lingfield was not listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, but is shown on the map as Leangafeld, its spelling in 871AD; the southern part of the parish is in the old iron district. A forge and a furnace'about Copthorne and Lingfield' were owned by Lady Gage in 1574, Clarke's pond and Cook's pond may have been heads for water power to work hammers. Henry Malden wrote in 1911 that Lingfield is mostly:...agricultural, but since the opening of the railway station on the...line from Croydon to East Grinstead in 1884, the laying out of the Dormansland estate with the opening of a station there, the making of the Lingfield Park racecourse, where another railway station has been opened, the village has become a small town and building has been carried out at Plaistow Street and elsewhere.
The Victoria Memorial Institute was built by subscription in 1901. It contains a library. A parish school and infants' school were founded in 1849; the old schoolhouse belonging to a school which Lord Howard of Effingham endowed with £3 a year was sold and the proceeds applied to the new schools. The school was rebuilt in 1860; the infants' school was carried on in the old building until the latter was rebuilt in 1906. Baldwin Hill School was built in 1874 and enlarged in 1898. On the creation of Surrey County Council in the late 19th century, the civil parish's responsibilities became somewhat lessened but its area was the same as in the medieval period, 36.8 square kilometres and it was this size which led to the decision to make Lingfield a post town across an larger area. The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul was rebuilt in 1431, although the original 14th-century tower remains, its collection of brasses and monuments are amongst the finest in England, including the impressive tomb of Reginald de Cobham, 1st Baron Cobham.
There had been a church on the site for some centuries before the 14th-century building. Listed at Grade I, the highest category of architectural listing, the church is among a low percentage to have this status in the country; the area around the church has been designated a conservation area as it has many early preserved buildings from the 16th to 18th centuries. In the main street, there is a village cage. Unusually listed buildings merit mention below; the cage, last used in 1882 to hold a poacher, was built in 1773. Old Town Hall and Old Town Cottage form one Grade II* listed building The library is housed in the Old Guest House of the College for Secular Chaplains built in 1431 which adjoins and is at Grade II*; this hall-house is all. Architecturally this building has Grade II. Unusually for an English village, two other buildings are at Grade II* within the village centre, The Old House and The Garth. One secular building in Lingfield has the architectural accolade of a Grade I listing: Pollard Cottage/Pollard House, a pre Tudor period hall house, timber-framed and part whitewashed.
To the right is Kentish bracing. Dragon posts and dragon beams, alongside irregular leaded windows add to the well-surviving display of medieval architecture; this narrow terrace of Grade II* listed cottages is at the end of the narrow central street leading to the church though excluding the end-of-terrace Church Gate Cottage, lower listed, dates to the Tudor period with a georgian front including a deep wooden modillion eaves cornice in part an Inn. In what was the parish until 2000 but is Dormansland civil parish 2 miles east is the site of Starborough Castle, fortified by Lord Cobham in 1341. Little now remains except parts of its walls, Grade II* listed and the moat, stone revetted, waterfilled and in good condition. Lingfield is home to one of the world's oldest cricket clubs, with the first recorded match being against London on 18 June 1739. Lingfield's location in Tandridge District is shown above; the Prime Meridian passes close to the western border of Lingfield. London is 23.4 miles north-by-northwest and Oxted, the administrative centre of Tandridge is 5.3 miles north.
Guildford, Surrey's county town is 24.3 miles west-by-northwest. Elevations range between 76m AOD in Lingfield Park Golf Course adjoining Lingfield Park and Felcourt to 46.5m AOD along the northern border, the Eden Brook from Moat Farm to the railway line. The village has a variety of public restaurants; the two pubs still open for business are the Star, close to the Church, the Greyhound. Three Indian restaurants grace the village - Bengal Village, Tarana Lingfield and Lingfield Tandoori and a Thai Restaurant/bar Thai Lounge; the Old Cage, built in 1592 and named after the nearby village cage or "lock-up", closed in 2014. The former Hare and Hounds is now an Italian restaurant; the village has social events and societies such as the Lingfield and Dormansland Rifle Club which caters for a wide variety
West Sussex is a county in the south of England, bordering East Sussex to the east, Hampshire to the west and Surrey to the north, to the south the English Channel. West Sussex is the western part of the historic county of Sussex a medieval kingdom. With an area of 1,991 square kilometres and a population of over 800,000, West Sussex is a ceremonial county, with a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff. Chichester in the south-west is the only city in West Sussex. West Sussex has a range of scenery, including wealden and coastal; the highest point of the county is at 280 metres. It has a number of stately homes including Goodwood, Petworth House and Uppark, castles such as Arundel Castle and Bramber Castle. Over half the county is protected countryside, offering walking and other recreational opportunities. Although the name Sussex, derived from the Old English'Sūþsēaxe', dates from the Saxon period between AD 477 to 1066, the history of human habitation in Sussex goes back to the Old Stone Age; the oldest hominin remains known in Britain were found at Boxgrove.
Sussex has been occupied since those times and has succumbed to various invasions and migrations throughout its long history. Prehistoric monuments include the Devil's Jumps, a group of Bronze Age burial mounds, the Iron Age Cissbury Ring and Chanctonbury Ring hill forts on the South Downs; the Roman period saw the building of Fishbourne Roman Palace and rural villas such as Bignor Roman Villa together with a network of roads including Stane Street, the Chichester to Silchester Way and the Sussex Greensand Way. The Romans used the Weald for iron production on an industrial scale; the foundation of the Kingdom of Sussex is recorded by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year AD 477. The foundation story is regarded as somewhat of a myth by most historians, although the archaeology suggests that Saxons did start to settle in the area in the late 5th century; the Kingdom of Sussex became the county of Sussex. With its origins in the kingdom of Sussex, the county of Sussex was traditionally divided into six units known as rapes.
By the 16th century, the three western rapes were grouped together informally, having their own separate Quarter Sessions. These were administered by a separate county council from 1888, the county of Sussex being divided for administrative purposes into the administrative counties of East and West Sussex. In 1974, West Sussex was made a single ceremonial county with the coming into force of the Local Government Act 1972. At the same time a large part of the eastern rape of Lewes was transferred into West Sussex; until 1834 provision for the poor and destitute in West Sussex was made at parish level. From 1835 until 1948 eleven Poor Law Unions, each catering for several parishes, took on the job. Most settlements in West Sussex are either along the south coast or in Mid Sussex, near the M23/A23 corridor; the town of Crawley is the largest in the county with an estimated population of 106,600. The coastal settlement of Worthing follows with a population of 104,600; the seaside resort of Bognor Regis and market town Horsham are both large towns.
Chichester, the county town, has a cathedral and city status, is situated not far from the border with Hampshire. Other conurbations of a similar size are Burgess Hill, East Grinstead and Haywards Heath in the Mid Sussex district, Littlehampton in the Arun district, Lancing and Shoreham in the Adur district. Much of the coastal town population is part of the Brighton/Worthing/Littlehampton conurbation. Rustington and Southwater are the next largest settlements in the county. There are several more towns in West Sussex; the smaller towns of the county are Arundel, Petworth and Steyning. The larger villages are Billingshurst, Crawley Down, Henfield, Hurstpierpoint, Lindfield and Storrington; the current total population of the county makes up 1.53% of England's population. West Sussex is bordered by Hampshire to Surrey to the north and East Sussex to the east; the English Channel lies to the south. The area has been formed from Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous rock strata, part of the Weald–Artois Anticline.
The eastern part of this ridge, the Weald of Kent and Surrey has been eroded, with the chalk surface removed to expose older Lower Cretaceous rocks of the Wealden Group. In West Sussex the exposed rock becomes older towards the north of the county with Lower Greensand ridges along the border with Surrey including the highest point of the county at Blackdown. Erosion of softer sand and clay strata has hollowed out the basin of the Weald leaving a north facing scarp slope of the chalk which runs east and west across the whole county, broken only by the valleys of the River Arun and River Adur. In addition to these two rivers which drain most of the county a winterbourne, the River Lavant, flows intermittently from springs on the dip slope of the chalk downs north of Chichester; the county makes up 1.52% of the total land of England, making it the 30th largest county in the country. West Sussex is the sunniest county in the United Kingdom, according to Met Office records. Over the last 29 years it has averaged 1902 hours of sunshine per year.
Sunshine totals are highest near the coast wi
Botley Hill is a hill in Surrey and is the highest point of the North Downs with a height of 269.6 metres. The Prime Meridian crosses the hill. Botley Hill is a Marilyn, the third highest point in the county. Botley Hill was a main surveying point for the Anglo-French Survey which sought to measure the relative positions of the Royal Greenwich Observatory and the Paris Observatory; this task was led by General William Roy. By coincidence Botley Hill lies due south of the Greenwich Observatory, as the Prime Meridian of the world passes over the top of the hill, just to the west of the summit; the summit lies at the edge of a water tower enclosure to the north of The Ridge, less than 1 km from the North Downs Way. The location of the Marilyn was given as the 267 metres trig point at TQ396553 as this is the highest point marked on current maps. However, the 1965 1" Ordnance Survey map shows a spot height of 882 feet at the site of the present water tower. A levelling survey confirmed the new location.
To the south is Oxted, the nearest railway station. It can be seen from the highest points in Croydon, skyscrapers in London, for example from Alexandra Palace, Stanmore Hill, Primrose Hill and Hampstead on the opposite side of the Thames Basin
Warlingham is a village in the Tandridge district of Surrey, England, 14.2 miles south of the centre of London and 22.3 miles east of the county town, Guildford. Warlingham is the centre of a civil parish that includes Hamsey Green, a contiguous, smaller settlement to the north. Caterham is 2.0 miles to the southwest. The name means the home of the followers of Waera; the letters "ae" here are the implied earlier spelling of any Anglo-Saxon scribes to denote the sound, which when Norman scribes replaced them was replaced with "a" as in today's orthography. No trace of a local Warra or Warla has been found in Norman texts, nor of a Waera or Waera in Anglo-Saxon texts, it is a man's name of the period. Flint implements are not uncommon, reputed eoliths have been found in the pebble beds near the village centre. In 1909 several cinerary urns of late Celtic date were found near the road towards Worms Heath. In several places are depressions which may have been pit houses. Two of these are in the grounds of Bryn Cottage.
The village lay within the Anglo-Saxon administrative division of Tandridge hundred. Its rectorial estate and rectory was from early times acquired by the manor, held by a priory, that of Bermondsey. Under manorialism three manors owned all of the land: Warlingham, Crewes/Carewes and Westhall. Warlingham ManorWarlingham Manor was assigned by William de Watevile in 1144 to Bermondsey Priory, which held it until the dissolution of the monasteries, subject to certain retained rights to the de Watevile de Godstone family. In the 13th century a lawsuit with the Abbey of Hyde over the boundary of their Sanderstead manor took place. After the ecclesiastic Reformation in 1544, Sir John Gresham, who made large loans to the state, subject to a few years' more rent from its senior tenants being retained by the Crown, granted the whole estate. In 1591 his grandson sold it to John Ownstead, though this was not done until Elizabeth I received her fine for her licence on conveyance for transferring the property.
This manor descended to Rev. Atwood Wigsell of Sanderstead Court in the 18th century and remained in that family until at least 1911. Crewes ManorIn 1353 permission was given to Sir Richard Willoughby and his wife to grant to William and Nicholas Carew the manor of Beddington at a yearly rent of 20 marks, retaining to themselves the manor of Warlingham, a part, known as Carew's and still, as Crewe's manor. A royal grant of free warren followed in 1375 to the lord of this manor. Medieval owners included the Huscarl and Saunders families leading up to the Dissolution/Reformation. Sir Edmund Walsingham's son was left the manor by his sister who married the owner, Sir Thomas Walsingham, from whom it passed to his second son who sold it, its purchaser was Edward Weston, followed as owner by Garrett Weston, his son-in-law, Michael Wilkins, who sold Crewes in 1644. Only two years Humphrey Gould sold it to Richard Rochdale and brewer of London, his heirs sold it to John Pemberton, who sold the manor to John Heathfield the elder, a brewer of Croydon, in whose family it remained until 1804 when it was purchased by William Coles of Addington.
Westhall ManorWilliam Rede exchanged his Oatlands Palace for Tandridge Priory including this manor with King Henry VIII. However, he died before the grant was completed, leaving as heir his infant son John Rede to whom the king on 2 January 1538 granted the priory of Tandridge, including the manor of Warlingham or Westhall. Sir Robert Clayton of Marden, Godstone and of Bletchingley held this from 1674-1707, his nephew, Sir William Clayton, inherited his estates and, after this, the manor continued to be held by the Claytons with the manor of Bletchingley, until the estate was subdivided. All Saints' Church's present building dates back to around the year 1250; the church is built of flint rubble with stone dressings rendered. Notable features include a 16th-century wall painting of St Christopher carrying Jesus Christ. Local vicars have maintained a preaching that long-serving Archbishop Cranmer began experimenting with the first Book of Common Prayer at this church. A south window contains stained glass depicting the presentation of the first English Prayer Book to King Edward VI by Archbishop Cranmer.
In the 14th century the east window was installed, it has now been renewed in the same pattern by artist J. O. Scott. All Saints' has a nave including a baptistry to the west, south porch and aisle with chancel to east, vestry addition to the north, its gabled wooden porch has cusped bargeboards. In 1907 a second church was constructed in front of Memorial Park and at the foot of the road to Chelsham, dedicated to St Christopher. In 1841 Warlingham had 512 inhabitants. Sir George Gilbert Scott led the project to renovate and restore All Saints' Church in 1857, its south aisle was added in 1893. All Saints' plain-tiled roof with tile-hung bellchamber above, under a gilt and iron weathervane, was added in 1893. Five Coal-tax posts are listed f
Toulouse is the capital of the French department of Haute-Garonne and of the region of Occitanie. The city is on the banks of the River Garonne, 150 kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea, 230 km from the Atlantic Ocean and 680 km from Paris, it is the fourth-largest city in France, with 466,297 inhabitants as of January 2014. In France, Toulouse is called the "Pink City"; the Toulouse Metro area, with 1,312,304 inhabitants as of 2014, is France's fourth-largest metropolitan area, after Paris and Marseille, ahead of Lille and Bordeaux. Toulouse is the centre of the European aerospace industry, with the headquarters of Airbus, the Galileo positioning system, the SPOT satellite system, ATR and the Aerospace Valley, it hosts the European headquarters of Intel and CNES's Toulouse Space Centre, the largest space centre in Europe. Thales Alenia Space, ATR, SAFRAN, Liebherr-Aerospace and Astrium Satellites have a significant presence in Toulouse; the University of Toulouse is one of the oldest in Europe and, with more than 103,000 students, it is the fourth-largest university campus in France, after the universities of Paris and Lille.
The air route between Toulouse–Blagnac and Paris Orly is the busiest in Europe, transporting 2.4 million passengers in 2014. According to the rankings of L'Express and Challenges, Toulouse is the most dynamic French city; the city was the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom in the 5th century and the capital of the province of Languedoc in the Late Middle Ages and early modern period, making it the unofficial capital of the cultural region of Occitania. It is now the capital of the second largest region in Metropolitan France. A city with unique architecture made of pinkish terracotta bricks, which earned it the nickname la Ville Rose, Toulouse counts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Canal du Midi, the Basilica of St. Sernin, the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe, designated in 1998 because of its significance to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route. Toulouse is in the south of France, north of the department of Haute-Garonne, on the axis of communication between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
The city is traversed by the Canal de Brienne, the Canal du Midi and the rivers Garonne and Hers-Mort. Toulouse has a humid subtropical climate, with too much precipitation in the summer months preventing the city from being classified as a Mediterranean climate zone; the Garonne Valley was a central point for trade between the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic since at least the Iron Age. The historical name of the city, Tolosa, it is of unknown meaning or origin from Aquitanian, or from Iberian, but has been connected to the name of the Gaulish Volcae Tectosages. Tolosa enters the historical period in the 2nd century BC. After the conquest of Gaul, it was developed as a Roman city of Gallia Narbonensis. In the 5th century, Tolosa fell to the Visigothic kingdom and became one of its major cities, in the early 6th century serving as its capital, before it fell to the Franks under Clovis in 507. From this time, Toulouse was the capital of Aquitaine within the Frankish realm. In 721, Duke Odo of Aquitaine defeated an invading Umayyad Muslim army at the Battle of Toulouse.
Odo's victory was a small obstacle to Muslim expansion into Christian Europe, Muslims occupied a large territory including Poitiers. Charles Martel, a decade won the Battle of Tours called the Battle of Poitiers; the Frankish conquest of Septimania followed in the 750s, a quasi-independent County of Toulouse emerged within the Carolingian sub-kingdom of Aquitaine by the late 8th century. The Battle of Toulouse of 844, pitting Charles the Bald against Pepin II of Aquitaine, was key in the Carolingian Civil War. During the Carolingian era, the town rose in status. In the 12th century, consuls took over the running of the town and these proved to be difficult years. In particular, it was a time of religious turmoil. In Toulouse, the Cathars tried to set up a community here, but were routed by Simon de Montfort's troops; the Dominican Order was founded in Toulouse in 1215 by Saint Dominic in this context of struggle against the Cathar heresy. The subsequent arrival of the Inquisition led to a period of religious fervour during which time the Dominican Couvent des Jacobins was founded.
Governed by Raimond II and a group of city nobles, Toulouse's urban boundaries stretched beyond its walls to the north and as far south as Saint Michel. In the Treaty of Paris of 1229, Toulouse formally submitted to the crown of France; the county's sole heiress Joan was engaged to Alphonse, Count of Poitiers, a younger brother of Louis IX of France. The marriage became legal in 1241, but it remained childless so that after Joan's death the county fell to the crown of France by inheritance. In 1229, University of Toulouse was established after the Parisian model, intended as a means to dissolve the heretic movement. Various monastic orders, like the congregation of the order of frères prêcheurs, were started, they found home in Les Jacobins. In parallel, a long period of inquisition began inside the Toulouse walls; the fear of repression obliged the notabilities to convert themselves. The inquisition lasted nearly 4
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