The 1992 General Election. 31 January 2022

The 1992 General Election. 31 January 2022.

The general election of 1992 was the first contested by the Liberal Democrats, who had been formed from the merger of the Liberal Party and the SDP just four years before. The new party entered the contest buoyed by parliamentary by-election victories, impressive local election results in 1991, and the high popularity of their leader, Paddy Ashdown.

The party fought an effective campaign, but the election result was disappointing: the Liberal Democrats finished with fewer seats and a lower share of the vote than the Liberal-SDP Alliance had achieved in 1987, and the Conservatives unexpectedly won a fourth term in office. Compared to the dark days of the post-merger period, however, when the party had come a distant fourth in the Euro elections in 1989, perhaps the result was not so bad.

Thirty years on, Alison Holmes (General Election campaign co-ordinator for the Liberal Democrats) and Dennis Kavanagh (Emeritus Professor of Politics, University of Liverpool and co-author of The British General Election of 1992) discuss the 1992 general election and its significance. Chair: Lord Don Foster (first elected as MP for Bath in the 1992 election).