The Future of the Liberal Democrats: Who Will Be the Next Leader?


As with Labour and UKIP, the Liberal Democrats are looking for a new leader after Nick Clegg’s predictable resignation. With so few Liberal Democrat MPs to choose from, the choice of a new Liberal Democrat leader is likely to be a two horse race between favourites Tim Farron and Norman Lamb.

Former party figureheads that would likely have been strong candidates for party leader had they retained their seats include Vince Cable, Danny Alexander, Jo Swinson, and Ed Davey. Of course, they could still become leader – but it’s unlikely.

Currently to stand for leader candidates have to win the support from 10% of MPs, but for the Liberal Democrats this is now worth less than one MP. They also need the backing of at least 200 party members from at least 20 different local parties, and nominated candidates are then elected by the wider membership using the alternative vote system. This will not leave the Liberal Democrats with much choice or the elected leader with much mandate.

Let’s take a look at the very few potential leadership candidates:

Tim Farron

Tim Farron is former President of the Liberal Democrats and managed to keep his Westmorland and Lonsdale seat. The MP has been a member of the education select committee since his election in 2005 and is currently favourite to be the next leader with odds of 1/5 at Bet365, 2/9 at Betfair and 1/6 at Ladbrokes and William Hill.

Tim Farron

Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb is the current Care Minister who managed to retain his seat in Norfolk North due to the large personal following he has in his constituency. He was Nick Clegg’s parliamentary private secretary at the beginning of the Coalition Government, and so is perhaps more established than Tim Farron. His odds however are lower at 23/5 at Betfair, 4 at Bet365 and 5/1 at Ladbrokes.

Norman Lamb

Alistair Carmichael

As the Scotland Secretary, he has existing cabinet experience after being parachuted in to play a key role in the party’s campaign ahead of the Scottish independence referendum last year. His chances may be lessened by being a Scottish MP, the only Lib Dem Scottish MP to exist in a sea of SNP seats, and further accentuated by not representing a mainland seat, as he is MP for Orkney and Shetland which sits precariously at the very edge of the UK. Ladbrokes have odds of 12/1 on him, while Betfair holds 83/5 odds.

Alistair Carmichael


The only other Lib Dem politician who was fortunate enough to hold their seat and have even a slight chance of attaining leadership is Greg Mulholland for Leeds North West, who has odds of 16/1 at Ladbrokes.

Greg Mulholland

Interestingly, Paddy Power are offering odds of  20/1 for Tessa Munt, former PPS to Vince Cable, despite losing her seat. Tessa Munt

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News Editor 2015/16. Philosophy and Politics student. Opinionated activist with a questionable sense of humour. Left Wing, Critique of the Status Quo and diplomatic debater who loves writing for you!

Discussion1 Comment

  1. avatar

    Has to be Farron. He’s a left-winger, he’s young, he’s a superb speaker and he’s passionate; pretty much the only man in the party who talks any sense and has a chance of pulling the Lib Dems back together. I say man because Tessa Munt might have managed it at a stretch, but I can’t see the Lib Dems plumping for a non-MP as leader. It would put them on a par with UKIP (probably) and the Greens, which would confirm their status as a minor party in the eyes of many, and which they simply cannot afford if they entertain any hope of returning to the position they once held

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