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Research note: Oh brother, where art thou? The position of the Scottish and Welsh Liberal Democrats within the Federal Liberal Democrats

By Adam B. Evans


This paper contributes to the growing literature on intra-party politics within state-wide political parties in multi-level systems of governance. Specifically it focuses on the respective positions of the Scottish and Welsh Liberal Democrats within the party federally up to the autumn of 2012. Whilst there has been a longstanding perception that the Scottish Liberal Democrats are a far more influential part of the federal party than their Welsh counterparts, as the early days of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition at Westminster appeared to confirm, this article argues that, in reality, the intra-party dynamics of the Liberal Democrats require a fundamental reinterpretation. By drawing attention to the federal leadership's perceptions of the Welsh party's electoral performance in 2011, the influence of key individuals in the Welsh Liberal Democrats and organizational adaptation by the party in Wales, it is argued that the Welsh party's influence, whilst still bounded, has been enhanced. Furthermore, whilst Scottish interests have certainly been more successful internally than their Welsh counterparts, by reassessing the source of such power, we can see that it is overwhelmingly rooted in Scottish Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament, rather than figures in Edinburgh. The latter is a source of influence that highlights the unbalanced nature of power within the federal party, with the Scottish and Welsh Liberal Democrats arguably victims of structural deficiencies at the heart of the Liberal Democrats ‘federal’ organization

Topics: JN101 Great Britain
Publisher: University of Wales Press
Year: 2013
OAI identifier: oai:
Provided by: ORCA
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