From Sandals to Suits: Professionalisation, Coalition and the Liberal Democrats

Evans, Elizabeth and Sanderson-Nash, Emma. 2011. From Sandals to Suits: Professionalisation, Coalition and the Liberal Democrats. British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 4(13), pp. 459-473. ISSN 1369-1481 [Article]

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The Liberal Democrats have traditionally been viewed as a ‘bottom-up’ party with a relatively high degree of influence open to grass-roots members and party activists. However, following the dramatic increase in the number of Liberal Democrat MPs at the 1997 election the party has increasingly tried to professionalise its operation, leading to a more top-down approach. This article argues that the professionalisation process has not only changed the dynamics within and between the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary party, but has also paved the way for the party, more usually identified as being on the centre-left of British politics, to enter into coalition government with the Conservatives. Analysing changes to the federal conference structure and to policy-making processes, the article explores the ways in which the party has professionalised, both within the parliamentary party and at party headquarters, and assesses the potential impact that this may have upon the role of the party's grass roots.

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1 October 2011Published
1 December 2010Accepted

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06 Oct 2016 14:47

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 10:32

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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