Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats

The Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats is responsible for administering the whipping system in the party which ensures that members attend and vote in parliament when the party leadership requires a majority vote. Whips, of which two are appointed in the party, a member of the House of Commons and a member of the House of Lords also help to organise their party’s contribution to parliamentary business. On some occasions, the party leadership may allow MP's to have a free vote based on their own conscience rather than party policy, of which the chief whip is not required to direct votes.

This is a list of people who have served as Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats in the Parliament of the United Kingdom and of its predecessor parties. The Liberal Party was formed in 1859, but through its roots in the Whig Party dates back to the late 1670s. In 1988, the Liberals merged with the Social Democratic Party, formed by dissident Labour Party members in 1981, to create the Liberal Democrats.

House of Commons

Chief Whip of the
Liberal Democrats
Alistair Carmichael MP

since 16 June 2017
Appointer Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Inaugural holder Edward Ellice (Whigs)
James Wallace (Liberal Democrats)
Formation circa 1830 (as Chief Whip of the Whig Party)
1988 (in current form)


1830 Edward Ellice Coventry
1830 Charles Wood Great Grimsby
1834 Francis Thornhill Baring Portsmouth
1835 Edward John Stanley North Cheshire
1841 Richard More O'Ferrall Kildare
1846 Henry Tufnell Plymouth Devonport
1850 William Goodenough Hayter Wells

Liberal Party

1859 Henry Bouverie William Brand Lewes
1866 George Grenfell Glyn Shaftesbury
1873 Arthur Wellesley Peel Warwick
1874 William Patrick Adam Clackmannanshire and Kinross-shire
1880 Lord Richard Grosvenor Flintshire
1885 Arnold Morley Nottingham East
1892 Edward Marjoribanks Berwickshire
1894 T. E. Ellis Merioneth
1900 Herbert Gladstone Leeds West
1905 George Whiteley Pudsey
1908 Joseph Pease Saffron Walden
1910 The Master of Elibank Midlothian
1912 Percy Illingworth Shipley
1915 John Gulland Dumfries Burghs
1923 Vivian Phillipps Edinburgh West
1924 Sir Godfrey Collins Greenock
1926 Sir Robert Hutchinson Montrose Burghs
1930 Archibald Sinclair Caithness and Sutherland
1931 Goronwy Owen Caernarvonshire
1932 Walter Rea Dewsbury
1935 Sir Percy Harris Bethnal Green South West
1945 Tom Horabin North Cornwall
1946 Frank Byers North Dorset
1950 Jo Grimond Orkney and Shetland
1956 Donald Wade Huddersfield West
1962 Arthur Holt Bolton West
1963 Eric Lubbock Orpington
1970 David Steel Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles
1976 Cyril Smith Rochdale
1977 Alan Beith Berwick-upon-Tweed
1985 David Alton Liverpool Mossley Hill
1987 James Wallace1 Orkney and Shetland
  • 1 Wallace continued as Liberal Democrat Chief Whip following the merger

Social Democratic Party

1981 John Roper Farnworth
1983 John Cartwright Woolwich

Liberal Democrats

1988 James Wallace Orkney and Shetland
1992 Archy Kirkwood Roxburgh and Berwickshire
1997 Paul Tyler North Cornwall
2001 Andrew Stunell Hazel Grove
2006 Paul Burstow Sutton and Cheam
2010 Alistair Carmichael Orkney and Shetland
2013 Don Foster Bath
2015 Tom Brake Carshalton and Wallington
2017 Alistair Carmichael Orkney and Shetland

House of Lords

Chief Whip of the
Liberal Democrats
The Lord Stoneham of Droxford

since 2016
Appointer Leader of the
Liberal Democrats
Inaugural holder The Viscount Falkland (Whigs)
The Lord Tordoff (Liberal Democrats)
Formation circa 1837 (as Chief Whip of the Whig Party)
1988 (in current form)


1837 The Viscount Falkland
1840 none1
1846 The Viscount Falkland
May 1848 The Earl of Bessborough

Liberal Party

1859 The Earl of Bessborough
Jan 1880 The Lord Monson (created Viscount Oxenbridge in 1886)
Aug 1892 The Lord Kensington
Oct 1896 The Lord Ribblesdale
May 1907 The Lord Denman
1911 The Lord Colebrooke
1922 none2
1924 The Lord Stanmore
1944 The Viscount Mersey
1949 The Marquess of Willingdon
1950 The Lord Moynihan
1950 The Lord Rea
1955 The Lord Amulree
1977 The Lord Wigoder
1984 The Lord Tordoff3
  • 1 Falkland was absent serving as Governor of Nova Scotia
  • 2 Denman was Liberal Chief Whip from 1919 to 1924
  • 3 Tordoff continued as Liberal Democrat Chief Whip following the merger

Social Democratic Party

1981 The Lord Kennet
1983 The Lord Kilmarnock
1986 The Baroness Stedman

Liberal Democrats

1988 The Lord Tordoff
1994 The Lord Harris of Greenwich[1]
2001 The Lord Roper
2005 The Lord Shutt of Greetland
2012 The Lord Newby
2016 The Lord Stoneham of Droxford [2]

Chief Whips of the National Liberal Party (Coalition Liberals), 1916–1923

1916 Neil James Archibald Primrose Wisbech
1916 Frederick Guest East Dorset
1921 Charles McCurdy Northampton
1922 Edward Hilton Young Norwich

Chief Whips of the Liberal National Party (later National Liberal Party), 1931–1966

1931 Alec Glassey East Dorset
1931 Geoffrey Shakespeare Norwich
1932 James Blindell (knighted in 1936) Holland with Boston
1937 Charles Kerr Montrose Burghs
1940 Herbert Holdsworth Bradford South
1945 Herbert Butcher (knighted in 1953; created a Baronet in 1960) Holland with Boston

See also


  1. "Obituary: Lord Harris of Greenwich". The Guardian. 13 April 2001.
  2. (2014-01-24). "Ben Stoneham". Liberal Democrats. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  • Chris Cook and Brendan Keith, British Historical Facts 1830–1900, Macmillan, 1975
  • David Butler and Gareth Butler, Twentieth-Century British Historical Facts 1900–2000, Macmillan, 2000
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