Liberal Democrats - Structure

Structure

See also: Liberal Democrats in England, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Welsh Liberal Democrats, and Federal Executive (Liberal Democrats)

The Liberal Democrats are a federal party of the parties of England, Scotland and Wales. The English and Scottish parties are further split into regions. The parliamentary parties of the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly form semi-autonomous units within the party. The leaders in the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament are the leaders of the federal party and the Scottish Party; the leaders in the other two chambers, and the officers of all parliamentary parties, are elected from their own number. Co-ordination of all party activities across all federated groups is undertaken through the Federal Executive. Chaired by the party leader, its 30+ members includes representatives from each of the groups and democratically elected representatives.

The Lib Dems had around 65,000 members at the end of 2010 and in the first quarter of 2008, the party received £1.1 million in donations and have total borrowings and unused credit facilities of £1.1 million (the "total debt" figure reported by the Electoral Commission includes, for example, unused overdraft facilities). This compares to Labour's £3.1 million in donations and £17.8 million of borrowing/credit facilities, and the Conservatives' £5.7 million in donations and £12.1 million of borrowing/credit facilities.

Specified Associated Organisations (SAOs) review and input policies, representing groups including: ethnic minorities (EMLD), women (WLD), the LGBT community (LGBT+ Lib Dems), youth and students (Liberal Youth), engineers and scientists (ALDES), parliamentary candidates (PCA) and local councillors (ALDC). Others can become Associated Organisations (AOs) as pressure groups in the party, such as the Green Liberal Democrats, Liberal Democrats Online, the Liberal Democrat European Group (LDEG) and the Liberal Democrat Disability Association. The National Union of Liberal Clubs (NULC) represents Liberal Social Clubs which encourages recreational institutions where the promotion of the party can take place.

Like the Conservatives, the Lib Dems organise in Northern Ireland, though they do not contest elections in the province: they work with the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, de facto agreeing to support the Alliance in elections. There is a separate local party operating in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats. Several individuals, including Alliance Party leader David Ford, hold membership of both parties. Alliance members of the House of Lords take the Lib Dem whip on non-Northern Ireland issues, and the Alliance Party usually has a stall at Lib Dem party conferences.

The party is a member of Liberal International and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party, and their 11 MEPs sit in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group in the European Parliament.

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