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Discrete CollectionsPolitics, economics and social science collections
TitleLiberal Party
Extent363 boxes, 3 outsize boxes
Admin Biographical HistoryThe Liberal Party, the successor to the Whig Party, was formed on 6 June 1859, when Whigs, Peelites and Radicals met at Willis's Rooms in St. James Street, London, to unite in opposition to the Conservatives. It became a major political force, holding power for a large proportion of the next sixty years. Following World War One, however, it was supplanted by the Labour Party and remained on the sidelines until the leadership of Jo Grimond (1956-1967), when the party generated a revived reputation as an intellectually credible left-of-centre group. From the early 1960s on, the party enjoyed spectacular by-election successes; fuelled by these performances, an increasing number of Liberal candidates was fielded. Under Jeremy Thorpe the party made substantial progress in the 1974 general election, returning almost 20 percent of the popular vote, and under Thorpe's successor as party leader, David Steel (1976-88), the Liberals retained their position as a significant national force in British politics. In return for supporting the minority Labour government of James Callaghan, Steel was able to extract a number of concessions, including an agreement to consult the Liberals on legislation prior to its presentation in Parliament. This "Lib-Lab" pact floundered in 1978, and the Liberals fared poorly in the general election of 1979, but their strategic importance was enhanced by the emergence of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981. An Alliance (as their cooperation became known) was forged between the two parties in time for the 1983 general election, in which they won 25 percent of the popular vote. Following a disappointing result in the 1987 general election, a majority in both parties voted for a formal merger, and the Social and Liberal Democratic Party, known from 1989 as the Liberal Democratic Party, was formed. Those Liberals who opposed the merger re-launched the Liberal Party in 1989. The structure of the Liberal Party was decentralised; the local parties controlled the process of candidate selection, and also afforded their members a direct vote in the election of the party leader. The day-to-day business of the party was directed by the National Executive Committee.
Description[This collection is currently being catalogued - reference numbers are temporary as the collection is being re-arranged as a lot of material is being added.

The cataloguing involves: adding more detail to the existing catalogue; some rearrangement to make it easier for users to locate items; adding previously uncatalogued material to the collection.

The papers of the Liberal Democrats (LD) are also being catalogued.]

This collection consists of:
- material originally held at the National Liberal Club and transferred to LSE Library in 1987
- further deposits from the Liberal Party and Liberal Democrats
- donations from individual activists.

Most of the material dates from the 1940s until 1988.

Papers of the Liberal Democrats are in a separate collection, LD.

Papers include:

[** Information from "This is your party" pamphlet (1960).]

Annual reports and accounts, 1934-87 (LIBERAL PARTY/6)

Liberal News - the Liberal Party's weekly newspaper. Includes news and information about the Liberal Party itself, opinions on policy matters and responses to current affairs: 1946-87, incomplete especially for its earlier years (LIBERAL PARTY/P/5)

Annual Assemblies: The main event of the Party's year where the guidelines of policy were drawn, officers were elected, representatives of the constituent associations and groups reviewed progress and discussed plans for the future. The annual Statement of Accounts was received, and resolutions were submitted by constituency associations, the Council or the Executive, or both, and by recognised units of the Party, to be debated and voted on**:
- Final agendas, 1912-88 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/3A-LIBERAL PARTY/P/3C)
- Resolutions adopted at conference, 1961-87 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/2)
- [For The Guardian report on the Liberal Assembly, 1961 and 1965-74, see COLL MISC 1190]

Party Council: met every three months, expressed the views of Liberals on current political questions as they arose and was responsible for raising and administering funds from subscriptions, donations and bequests, for the maintenance of Headquarters' offices and staff, and for publicity and propaganda**
- Minutes, 1958-October 1969 (LIBERAL PARTY/2/1-2)
- Minutes, December 1969-October 1970 (LIBERAL PARTY/1/7)
- Minutes, December 1970-1979 (LIBERAL PARTY/2/3-5)
- Working papers, 1972-87, including minutes for 1972-February 1983, February 1985-February 1987 (LIBERAL PARTY/3/1-9)
- Correspondence, including lobbying government departments and ministers in relation to resolutions passed by Council, 1970-76 (LIBERAL PARTY/3/10-15)
- [NOTE: Liberal Council minutes, 1927-39, are held at Bristol University Library - see]

National Executive Committee: usually met monthly, responsible for implementing recommendations from the Assembly and Council**.
- Minutes, March 1954-June 1959; September 1961-July 1985; November 1985-1987 (LIBERAL PARTY/1)
- Working papers, 1972, 1974, 1977, 1979-July 1985; 1986-87 (LIBERAL PARTY/1)
- [For NEC minutes and papers, September-November 1985 see LIBERAL PARTY/2/24.]
- Steering Group minutes and working papers, 1977-80 (LIBERAL PARTY/1) [A Steering Group was established in 1977 (replacing the Officers' Committee) to consider matters in detail before presenting recommendations etc. to the NEC for decision.]
- [NOTE: NEC minutes, 1914-26 and 1947-63, are held at Bristol University Library - see]

Standing Committee papers, 1960-87 (LIBERAL PARTY/4), including:
- Minutes, 1960-62 and 1976-80, 1983, 1985-86
- It was called the Organising Committee, 1961-63 (see LIBERAL PARTY/5/1 for minutes, 1961-63 and LIBERAL PARTY/5/2 for memoranda)
- Draft mid-term programme, report for Standing Committee, 1981 (LIBERAL PARTY/2/14)
- Working papers, 1976-87

Finance and Administration Board papers (LIBERAL PARTY/7), including:
- Minutes, 1971-87
- See also Finance Committee/Directorate minutes, 1983 (LIBERAL PARTY/2/6)

Constitutions, 1936-87 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1)

Handbooks - including booklets for Liberal candidates and speakers summarising Liberal Party views and policies on leading topics (various references, especially among the general election material in LIBERAL PARTY/9)
- A good set of booklets (usually called "Speakers' Notes"), 1924-1950, is available in JOSEPHY/16*

Campaign Bulletin / Headquarters Bulletin / Election Bulletin (the main channel of internal communication in the Party, issued by Liberal Party Headquarters - a 'must' for Liberal Party officers, candidates and agents) and some earlier similar material:
- LPO Bulletin, 1940-43 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1940B)
- Speakers' notes, 1958-64 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1958C)
- General Election Bulletin 1964 (LIBERAL PARTY/9/7)
- 1965 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1965CB)
- 1966-67 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1966CB)
- General Election Bulletins, issued 10-30 March 1966 (LIBERAL PARTY/9/10)
- Liberal Headquarters Bulletin, 1967-71 and Liberal Monthly Bulletin, 1972-75 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1967HB)
- General Election Bulletins, 1970 (LIBERAL PARTY/9/13)
- LPO Campaign News, 1980-83 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1980L)

Other printed or circulated material published by the Liberal Party includes:

- Current Topics: an effective Liberal is an informed Liberal (journal), 1961-68 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1961C)

- New Directions: series of discussion pamphlets, 1961-66 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1961N)

- Liberal Focus pamphlets, 1968-75 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1968L)

- Strategy 2000 pamphlets, 1973-76 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1973S)

- Study Papers (pamphlets), 1977-78 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1976S)

- LPO Campaign News, 1980-83 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1980L)

- Liberal Challenge pamphlets, 1985-86 (LIBERAL PARTY/P/1985L)

Printed material related to the Liberal Party (but not published by the Party), includes:
- New Outlook journal: containing news and views from a Liberal perspective, 1962-84 (LIBERAL PARTY/PR/NEW*; another set, for 1961-84, is available among the Library's print collections - JN1129.L45 - Offsite store reserve journals)

Papers relating to Liberal Party organisations such as:
- Association of Liberal Councillors, ALC, mainly printed papers (LIBERAL PARTY/PL/ALC)

- Young Liberals - National League of Young Liberals and Union of Liberal Student (LIBERAL PARTY/YL).
Includes: New Orbits Group pamphlets, 1960-68 (LIBERAL PARTY/YL/NEW)
Note that Liberator print, including the Liberator journal (originally Young Liberals publications) are available in LD/LT.

LIBERAL PARTY/X contains some non-Liberal Party print found among other outputs, but not within files. Some of this relates to the Liberal Party or liberalism generally, but there is also a lot of miscellaneous material.
LIBERAL PARTY/X/5 is a box of Liberal National Party print, 1941-59, including some relating to attempts to reunite with the Liberal Party (this material was donated by the Conservative Research Department along with two shelves of Liberal Party print).

Abbreviations include:
ALC = Association of Liberal Councillors
LPO = Liberal Party Organisation
NLYL = National League of Young Liberals
SDP = Social Democratic Party
ULS = Union of Liberal Students

[For the benefit of researchers, since the original listing some additional information has been added to this catalogue description, some re-arrangement has taken place (as much of the collection was unsorted) and exact duplicates have been disposed of. Some original reference numbers no longer exist as material has been added to more appropriate locations. Much page numbering was done before the collection was fully arranged so these numbers may not reflect the current page order.]
Related MaterialSee also:
Coll Misc 1201: Thor (association for local Liberal organisers)
Coll Misc 1202: Democrats Action Group for Gaining Electoral Reform (DAGGER)

See the Library's print catalogue for other Liberal Party pamphlets and other printed papers, especially earlier material (pre-1940s) such as:
- "The General Election, 1880: a selection of Liberal literature (speeches, pamphlets, etc.), issued prior to the Election." (Main Collection Books: JN1129.L45 L69)

- New Democrat: the monthly magazine of the new politics incorporating Alliance, 1983-1991 (Offsite store reserve journals: JN1129.A)
Access StatusOpen
Copyright TypeCopyright is held by the depositor
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