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Liberal Democrats 111 MPs so far but where next?

July 31, 2017

The Liberal Democrats started the 2017 general election campaign with high hopes of winning back many of the seats lost in 2015. Surely 2015 was rock bottom and there would be some new faces? Some people even thought that there might be new MPs in some Remain voting seats that had not previously elected a Lib Dem.

In the end there were just four new faces. Three were in seats lost in 2015, one regained a seat lost in 2010. They were cancelled out by four losses of seats that had been held in 2015, which turned out not to be rock bottom after all. The headline grabbing defeat was in Sheffield Hallam, where Labour succeeded in ousting Nick Clegg. The expected backlash against Brexit didn’t even save the man who appeared to have been rehabilitated as the most articulate speaker for disappointed Remainers. Nick was a fellow member of the “555 Club” of MPs first elected on 5th May 2005. That club came within 777 votes of having no remaining members as even party leader Tim Farron almost lost his seat. The narrow defeat of Mark Williams in Ceredigion leaves the party with no MPs in Wales for the first time in its history. But Scotland was a better story with three seats regained in constituencies where the party was the obvious alternative to the SNP. One of them was Jo Swinson, topping up the 555 Club.

Jo was one of four MPs regaining the seats they had lost in 2015, including the now party leader Vince Cable. Several other former MPs attempting a comeback were defeated by even bigger margins than in 2015, myself included. In any seat where Labour was even just a modest contender, they swept past the Lib Dems. They won seats never held by them before, Portsmouth South joining Sheffield Hallam. They won vote shares of over 60% in many of the “urban intelligentsia” seats won by the Lib Dems in 2005.

On the basis of the 2017 results the party has few decent prospects in any city or Labour facing seat. There are few obvious targets in Conservative seats. But that assumes that the gains in a 2022 general election (if the Tory-DUP deal lasts that long…) depend on past results. The 2015 and 2017 general elections show that extraordinary gains and losses are possible. So far the Lib Dems have experienced only the losses but that could change. By the next election Brexit will have happened (or gone belly up, hopefully) and nobody can predict sensibly how politics will look beyond that event.

The Liberal Democrats will need to stick to their anti-Brexit guns and also find some new eye catching policies. The party will also need some new campaign tactics. A strong ground game and a well known candidate was not enough in 2015 or 2017. People say they like good constituency MPs but now cast their votes more in line with the national picture.

In 2013 I wrote a blog ( ) to mark the Liberal Democrats’ 25th anniversary as a new party. At that time it had elected 106 MPs, in 84 constituencies. The strong ground game and popular incumbent was already failing as a model for success. I’ve now updated the list for the gains and (mainly) losses of the last four years. I hope people find it interesting and will think about where the party will venture to find the next generation of new faces.

Here’s the full One Hundred and Eleven individuals elected as Liberal Democrats, in date order from our first victory:

David Bellotti – Eastbourne by election. Defeated GE 1992.


Mike Carr – Ribble Valley by election. Defeated GE 1992.
Nicol Stephen – Kincardine and Deeside by election. Defeated GE 1992.

1992 General Election

Russell Johnson – Inverness. First elected 1964. Retired GE 1997 and constituency lost.
David Steel – Tweedale, Ettrick & Lauderdale. First elected 1965 by election. Retired GE 1997.
Robert MacLennan – Caithness and Sutherland. First elected 1966 for Labour, then 1983 SDP. Retired GE 2001.
Alan Beith – Berwick Upon Tweed. First elected 1973. Retired 2015 and constituency lost.
David Alton – Liverpool Mossley Hill. First elected 1979 by election. Retired GE 1997 & constituency abolished.
Simon Hughes – Southwark and Bermondsey. First elected 1983 by election. Defeated 2015.
Paddy Ashdown – Yeovil. First elected 1983. Retired GE 2001
Alex Carlile – Montgomery. First elected 1983. Retired GE 1997.
Charles Kennedy – Ross, Cromarty and Skye. First elected for SDP 1983. Defeated 2015.
Archie Kirkwood – Roxburgh and Berwickshire. First elected 1983. Retired GE 2005.
Malcolm Bruce – Gordon First elected 1983. Retired 2015 and constituency lost.
Jim Wallace – Orkney & Shetland – First elected 1983. Retired 2001.
Matthew Taylor – Truro & St Austell (1987 by election – retired GE 2010)
Menzies Campbell – Fife North East. First elected 1987. Retired 2015 and constituency lost.
Ray Michie – Argyll & Bute First elected 1987. Retired 2001.
Don Foster – Bath. Retired 2015 and constituency lost.
Nick Harvey – North Devon. Defeated 2015.
Nigel Jones – Cheltenham. Retired 2005
Liz Lynne – Rochdale. Defeated 1997
Paul Tyler – North Cornwall. Retired 2005 (Also Liberal MP for Bodmin Feb – Oct 1974)


David Rendel – Newbury by election. Defeated 2005
Diana Maddock – Christchurch by election. Defeated 1997

David Chidgey – Eastleigh by election. Retired 2005

Chris Davies – Littleborough & Saddleworth by election. Defeated GE 1997

General Election 1997:

Mike Hancock – Portsmouth South (previously SDP 1984 – 1987) Defeated (as Independent) 2015.
Richard Livsey – Brecon and Radnor (previously Lib 1985 by election – defeated 1992) Retired 2001.
Ronnie Fearn – Southport (previously Lib 1987 – defeated 1992) Retired 2001.
Andrew George – St Ives. Defeated 2015.
Colin Breed – Cornwall South East. Retired 2010 and constituency lost.
John Burnett – Devon West & Torridge. Retired 2005 and constituency lost.
Adrian Sanders – Torbay. Defeated 2015.
Jackie Ballard – Taunton. Defeated 2001.
David Heath – Somerton & Frome. Retired 2015 and constituency lost.
Brian Cotter – Weston Super Mare. Defeated 2005.
Steve Webb – Northavon. Defeated 2015.
Dr Peter Brand – Isle of Wight. Defeated 2001.
Mark Oaten – Winchester. Retired 2010 and constituency lost.
Norman Baker – Lewes. Defeated 2015.
Vince Cable – Twickenham. Defeated 2015. Regained seat in 2017
Dr Jenny Tonge – Richmond Park. Retired 2005
Edward Davey – Kingston & Surbiton. Defeated 2015. Regained seat in 2017
Tom Brake – Carshalton & Wallington
Paul Burstow – Sutton & Cheam. Defeated 2015.
Bob Russell – Colchester. Defeated 2015.
Dr Evan Harris – Oxford West & Abingdon. Defeated 2010
Paul Keetch – Hereford. Retired 2010 and constituency lost.
Andrew Stunell – Hazel Grove. Retired 2015 and constituency lost.
Phil Willis – Harrogate & Knaresborough. Retired 2010 and constituency lost
Richard Allen – Sheffield Hallam. Retired 2005
Donald Gorrie – Edinburgh West. Retired 2001
Sir Robert Smith – West Aberdeenshire. Defeated 2015.
Lembit Opik – Montgomery. Defeated 2010
Michael Moore – Tweedale, Ettrick & Lauderdale (Roxburgh and Berwickshire since 2005) Defeated 2015.


Sandra Gidley – Romsey by election. Defeated GE 2010

2001 General Election

Richard Younger-Ross – Teignbridge. Defeated (at Newton Abbot) 2010
Annette Brooke – Mid Dorset and North Poole. Retired 2015 and constituency lost.
Sue Doughty – Guildford. Defeated 2005
Norman Lamb – North Norfolk
Matthew Green – Ludlow. Defeated 2005
Patsy Calton – Cheadle. Died 2005
Paul Holmes – Chesterfield. Defeated 2010
David Laws – Yeovil. Defeated 2015.
Dr John Pugh – Southport. Retired 2017 and constituency lost.
Roger Williams – Brecon & Radnor. Defeated 2015.
Alistair Carmichael – Orkney & Shetland
John Thurso – Caithness & Sutherland. Defeated 2015.
Alan Reid – Argyll & Bute. Defeated 2015.
John Barrett – Edinburgh West. Retired 2010


Sarah Teather – Brent East by election. Seat abolished GE 2010. Elected Brent Central. Retired 2015 and constituency lost.


Parmjit Singh Gill – Leicester South by election. Defeated GE 2005.

2005 General Election

Lorely Burt – Solihull. Defeated 2015.
Tim Farron – Westmoreland & Lonsdale
Julia Goldsworthy – Falmouth & Camborne. Defeated (at Camborne and Redruth) 2010
Jeremy Browne – Taunton. Retired 2015 and constituency lost.
Stephen Williams – Bristol West. Defeated, 2015.
Lynne Featherstone – Hornsey & Wood Green. Defeated 2015.
John Hemming – Birmingham Yardley. Defeated 2015.
David Howarth – Cambridge. Retired 2010
Greg Mulholland – Leeds North West. Defeated 2017.
John Leech – Manchester Withington. Defeated 2015.
Paul Rowen – Rochdale. Defeated 2010
Jenny Willott – Cardiff Central. Defeated 2015.
Jo Swinson – East Dumbartonshire. Defeated 2015. Regained seat in 2017
Danny Alexander – Inverness, Badenoch & Strathspey. Defeated 2015.
Mark Williams – Ceredigion. Defeated 2017.
Dan Rogerson – Cornwall North. Defeated 2015.
Martin Horwood – Cheltenham. Defeated 2015.
Chris Huhne – Eastleigh. Resigned 2013. Seat held in by election.
Susan Kramer – Richmond Park. Defeated 2010.
Nick Clegg – Sheffield Hallam. Defeated 2017.

Mark Hunter – Cheadle by election. Defeated 2015.


Willie Rennie – Dunfermline & West Fife by election. Defeated GE 2010

2010 General Election

Stephen Gilbert – St Austell & Newquay. Defeated 2015.
Duncan Hames – Chippenham. Defeated 2015.
Tessa Munt – Wells. Defeated 2015.
Stephen Lloyd – Eastbourne. Defeated 2015. Regained seat in 2017
Simon Wright – Norwich South. Defeated 2015.
David Ward – Bradford East. Defeated 2015.
Gordon Birtwhistle – Burnley. Defeated 2015.
Ian Swales – Redcar. Retired 2015 and constituency lost.
Julian Huppert – Cambridge. Defeated 2015.
Mike Crockart – Edinburgh West. Defeated 2015.


Mike Thornton – Eastleigh by election. Defeated GE 2015.

2015 General Election

No new MPs

Sarah Olney – Richmond Park by election. Defeated GE 2017.

2017 General Election

Wera Hobhouse – Bath
Layla Moran – Oxford West and Abingdon
Christine Jardine – Edinburgh West
Jamie Stone – Caithness and Sutherland

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2017 7:39 am

    I know people will not like me saying it but I will say it again. We won’t get anywhere until we get a new campaign team (and now a new leader). Stephen has basically said the same above “find some new eye catching policies. The party will also need some new campaign tactics”

  2. TonyH permalink
    August 1, 2017 9:28 am

    Great bit of historical context Stephen. Love this kind of stuff.
    Small correction: Ray Michie was first elected in 87, not 83.

  3. August 1, 2017 10:31 am

    “Greg Mulholland – Leeds North West. Defeated 2017.
    John Leech – Manchester Withington. Defeated 2015.”

    That bit broke my heart </3

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