Liberal Democrat Frontbench Team
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Liberal Democrat Frontbench Team

Frontbench Teams since 1997
Ashdown Team (1997-1999)
Kennedy Team (1999-2006)
Campbell Team (2006-2007)
First Cable Team (2007)
Clegg Team (2007-2010)
General Election Cabinet (2015)
Farron Team (2015-2017)
Second Cable Team (2017-2019)
Swinson Team (2019)
Davey Team (2020)

The Liberal Democrats are a political party in the United Kingdom. While in opposition, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats appoints a frontbench team of Members of Parliament (MPs), Peers, Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and Members of the National Assembly for Wales (AMs), to speak for the party on different issues. Their areas of responsibility broadly corresponded to those of Government ministers. The frontbench team is divided into departmental sub-units, the principal ones being the economy, foreign policy, and home affairs. Sometimes the frontbench team consists of more than just the principal positions.


Formerly, the Liberal Democrats frontbench team did not use the term 'Shadow Cabinet', with a number of front bench spokespeople covering areas (e.g., Defence and Foreign Affairs) rather than directly shadowing specific Cabinet portfolios. Under Charles Kennedy's leadership, and with the increase in numbers of Liberal Democrat MPs, the senior members of the frontbench team referred to themselves as a Shadow Cabinet. This was controversial, because in the two-party political system that dominated UK politics in the 20th century, the term 'Shadow Cabinet' referred to senior members of the frontbench team of the largest single opposition party in the House of Commons. This party, known as the Official Opposition, has constitutional status, although its Shadow Cabinet does not. Following Kennedy's decision to change the nomenclature, the UK Parliament's website used for a time the term 'Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet' in place of the old term 'Frontbench Team'.[1][2]

This is not without contention, and was disputed by the Conservative Party, who were then the Official Opposition. However, the official listing at the Parliament website is explicit in using the term 'Shadow Cabinet'.[3] In 2001, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said the following in the House of Commons:

The House of Commons is in the unique position of having two shadow Chancellors: one sits in Folkestone and the other in Truro. It is rather like the mediaeval papacy: two hon. Members claim to hold the position of shadow Chancellor. I shall organise a play-off during the year.[4]

Brown returned to this theme, comparing his frosty relationship with the official Shadow Chancellor George Osborne with his apparently warm relationship with Vince Cable (whom he has referred to as "the Shadow Chancellor from Twickenham").[5]

The Official Opposition receives support for its official function which is denied to smaller opposition parties, although they, along with every parliamentary party, do receive Short Money. While the Opposition Leader and Chief Whips draw salaries, smaller opposition parties do not. The Official Opposition also has the exclusive use of facilities within Parliament.

Following the 2010 general election and the confirmation of Conservative David Cameron as Prime Minister on 11 May 2010, a coalition cabinet was formed that included Liberal Democrat ministers. Thus the Liberal Democrats entered the Cabinet again for the first time since the 1920s.

Following the 2015 general election, the Liberal Democrats were reduced to just eight seats in the House of Commons, falling into joint fourth place with the Democratic Unionist Party behind the Scottish National Party (SNP) for the first time. As a result of this, Parliament's website listed the SNP's frontbench team (in comparison with the Conservative Cabinet and Labour Shadow Cabinet) in lieu of the Liberal Democrat frontbench team.

Current Liberal Democrat frontbench team

After Jo Swinson's defeat in the 2019 election, and the defeat or retirement of several other members, Ed Davey appointed a new frontbench team as Acting Leader in January 2020.

Current Frontbench Team

Other Roles and Spokespeople

Portfolio Name
In the House of Lords[8]
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords The Rt Hon The Baroness Walmsley[9]
Lords Spokesperson for Home Affairs The Rt Hon The Lord Paddick
The Rt Hon The Baroness Hamwee
Lords Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs The Rt Hon The Baroness Northover PC
Lords Spokesperson for Exiting the European Union The Rt Hon The Baroness Ludford
Lords Spokesperson for International Trade The Rt Hon The Lord Purvis of Tweed
Lords Spokesperson for Social Care[10] The Rt Hon The Baroness Brinton
Lords Spokesperson for Work and Pensions The Rt Hon The Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville MBE
The Rt Hon The Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope
Lords Spokesperson for Communities and Local Government The Rt Hon The Baroness Pinnock
Lords Spokesperson for Northern Ireland The Rt Hon The Baroness Suttie
Lords Spokesperson for Scotland The Rt Hon The Lord Bruce of Bennachie
Lords Spokesperson for Africa The Rt Hon The Lord Chidgey
Lords Spokesperson for Attorney General's Office The Rt Hon The Lord Thomas of Gresford
Welsh Liberal Democrats
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds
Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams CBE AM
Scottish Liberal Democrats
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie MSP
Deputy Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats The Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael MP

Previous frontbench teams

Previous team key-members in summary:

Party Date Leader Economy Foreign affairs Home affairs
Liberal April 1966 Jo Grimond Richard Wainwright James Davidson Unknown
January 1967 Jeremy Thorpe
June 1970 John Pardoe Russell Johnston
1975 David Steel
May 1976 Jo Grimond
July 1976 David Steel Jeremy Thorpe
1977 Emlyn Hooson
May 1979 Richard Wainwright Russell Johnston
October 1981 Bill Pitt
June 1983
1985 David Penhaligon Alan Beith
January 1987
June 1987 Alan Beith Russell Johnston
March 1988 David Steel and
Robert Maclennan
Robert Maclennan
July 1988 Paddy Ashdown
July 1989 David Steel
July 1994 Malcolm Bruce Menzies Campbell Alan Beith
August 1999 Charles Kennedy Matthew Taylor Simon Hughes
June 2003 Vince Cable Mark Oaten
January 2006 Menzies Campbell
(acting: Jan - Mar 2006)
January 2006 Alistair Carmichael
March 2006 Michael Moore Nick Clegg
October 2007 Vince Cable
December 2007 Nick Clegg

(Deputy Prime Minister: May 2010 - May 2015)

Ed Davey Chris Huhne
May 2010 David Laws
(Chief Secretary to the Treasury)
Jeremy Browne
(Minister of State for Foreign Affairs)
The Lord McNally
(Minister of State for Justice)
May 2010 Danny Alexander
(Chief Secretary to the Treasury)
September 2012 Lynne Featherstone
(Under Secretary of State for International Development)
Jeremy Browne
(Minister of State for Home Affairs)
October 2013 Lynne Featherstone
(Under Secretary of State for International Development)
Norman Baker
(Minister of State for Home Affairs)
November 2014 Menzies Campbell

Member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee

Lynne Featherstone
(Minister of State for Home Affairs)
January 2015 Tim Farron
May 2015 Norman Lamb The Lord McNally
July 2015 Tim Farron The Baroness Kramer Tom Brake Alistair Carmichael
October 2016 The Lord Paddick
May 2017 Sir Vince Cable
June 2017 Jo Swinson Ed Davey
July 2017 Sir Vince Cable Vacant
Oct 2017 The Baroness Kramer
June 2019 Chuka Umunna
August 2019 Jo Swinson Ed Davey Chuka Umunna Christine Jardine
December 2019 Ed Davey Ed Davey Angela Smith (Int. Dev.) Christine Jardine
January 2020 Ed Davey Ed Davey Alistair Carmichael Christine Jardine

See also


  1. ^ "Directory of MPs, Peers, Offices and Overseas Delegations". House of Commons Information Office. Archived from the original on 2 September 2006. Retrieved 2006.
  2. ^ "Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet and Parliamentary Team". House of Commons Information Office. Archived from the original on 21 August 2006. Retrieved 2006.
  3. ^ "UK Parliament". House of Commons Information Office - libdems. Archived from the original on 2 August 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  4. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 27 Nov 2001 (pt 8)". The Stationery Office Ltd. 27 November 2001. Retrieved 2006.
  5. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 16 Oct 2003 (pt 2)". 16 October 2003. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011.
  6. ^ Cite error: The named reference commonsteam was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  7. ^ "Liberal Democrat spokespersons".
  8. ^ "Spokespersons in the House of Lords". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ (16 January 2014). "Joan Walmsley". Liberal Democrats. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ (22 January 2014). "Sal Brinton". Liberal Democrats. Retrieved 2017.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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