Paddy Ashdown is elected first leader of the Social and Liberal Democrats

The election was to provide a single leader for the new party to replace the joint interim leaders David Steel and Robert Maclennan. The contest came after the troubled period between the 1987 general election disappointment for the Alliance and the bitter tussle inside the SDP over whether the party should keep its independence or merge with the Liberals. After merger David Owen led a ‘continuing’ SDP which contested elections against the Lib Dems and many independent Liberals continued to reject the merged party. Ashdown secured victory with 72% of the votes cast over the only other candidate Berwick upon Tweed MP, Alan Beith.