Gone Fishin'

Merry Christmas!

And a Happy Holidays. So, this is your 'annual TLIA*'?


The Kennedy one?


The one you thought may be distasteful given what's happened in the last year and month?

Yeah, but I've stopped worrying about that.

Okay. Doesn't look very... Kennedy to me.

What'd you mean?

Stars, stripes, amphetamines, I mean, it's oran-

Not that Kennedy. And it's Amber.

Oh. OH. Right, right, yes, you're a LibDem, aren't you?

That I am.

And you're writing a T...Li...Af?

Fortnight. We've used them before, remember? Anyway, due to seasonal pressures I fear I couldn't do this in a week. And hey, at least this isn't a Pot.

Okay, so you're writing a TLIAF about the LibDems-

-that I am-

-involving Kennedy-

-yes, though he's not the PoD or even the main focus-

-so presumably this'll be a bit of a wank, right?

No, actually. It's focused on the LibDems, but it will not wank them like a hypothetical timeline by Howard Dean would.

Not even a little bit?

Okay maybe a little bit. But it won't be like I'm propelling them into the Great Offices.

So what's the gimmick?


You know, last time all the Prime Ministers were analogies for the Chancellors of Germany, and those weird shuffling lists you've been doing...

Look, telling you the gimmick would be spoiling the fun, wouldn't it? So lets wait and see...

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Will follow this with interest.

A ridiculously early prediction of what the Gimmick will be:
It's the UK as Brazil or something like that.


Gone Fishin'
British Political Leaders: From Thatcher to Bercow
By George Macfarlane


Chapter Three: The Liberal Democrats
It is often mistaken, even by those in British Politics, that on these fair isle exists a two-party system. This mistake is easily forgiven, at least to those who are perhaps not as political engaged as others, as since the 15th of November 1922, there has not been a Prime Minister from a Party that is neither the Conservative Party, nor the Labour Party. Admittedly, this is not strictly true, but it would be pedantic to bring up the Third Ministry of Ramsay MacDonald, whom served as a member of the National Labour Committee, or the Brief Government of Bonar Law and Sir Alec Douglas-Home, two Scottish Unionist, all members of factions making up the great Conservative Coalitions of the mid-Century. Of course, before the 14th of November 1918, nearly the same could be said for the political dominations of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, who sat opposite on another in the House for some sixty years, with the Liberal Party helming administrations that would last for some thirty four years, under three Monarchs, seven Prime Ministers, and the Great War.

To put a complicated process into the briefest terms, the Liberal Party helped win the Great War, but lost the subsequent peace, bitterly fragmenting into several factions in the 1918 election, mainly between David Lloyd George, who wished to continue the Wartime Coalition with the Conservative and Labour Party, and H.H. Asquith, who did not. Following 1918, the Party would never hold high political office again beyond ministerial posts in Coalitions during the interwar period and Second World War, and ultimately, on the 2nd of March 1988, 69 years, four months, and 18 days after the final day of the last Liberal Government, the Party, a shell and shadow of what was perhaps once the most important political forces in the Western Hemisphere, died.

However, as these things have a habit of doing, it didn't end there for the Liberal Party. From the 6th of June 1981, through to the 3rd of March 1988, the Liberal Party under the relatively youthful David Steel was bound in an electoral alliance with the Social Democratic Party, a Labour splinter Party initially led by former Chancellor and Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, then former Foreign Secretary David Owen, and finally a former Junior Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry Robert MacLennan (their leaderships, as well as Steel's, are discussed at lengths in a later chapter). Both Parties joined one another, recognising that it would be better to be a single Centralist force in politics rather than multiple, so 'The Alliance', as it was known, set out to replace Labour as the Party of Opposition and a Party of Government, effectively doing what Labour had done to the Liberals in the interwar. This ultimately failed.

As a response to the results of the 1987 General Election, a merged was sought. Though not without resistance, the Liberals and Social Democrats dissolved, reemerging blinking into the world as a single unified Party known as the 'Social and Liberal Democrats' on the 3rd of March, 1988.

And this brings us to the first leader of this brave new party, Jeremy ‘Paddy’ Ashdown.
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since the 15th of November 1922, there has not been a Prime Minister from a Party that is neither the Conservative Party, nor the Labour Party. Admittedly, this is not strictly true, but it would be pedantic to bring up the Third Ministry of Ramsay MacDonald or the Government of Sir Alec Douglas-Home
It would be even more pedantic to bring up Bonar Law, who was also a Unionist and was PM until 22 May 1923.


Gone Fishin'



Will follow this with interest.

A ridiculously early prediction of what the Gimmick will be:
It's the UK as Brazil or something like that.

My ready is body.
I'm glad you guys are interested.

And U'sM: nope, it's not analogies.
It would be even more pedantic to bring up Bonar Law, who was also a Unionist and was PM until 22 May 1923.

Fixed that, I was unaware Law was a Unionist during his time as PM.
Part One: Ashdown


Gone Fishin'

Paddy Ashdown

The career of Jeremy 'Paddy' Ashdown remains one of the more interesting careers in British Politics, not only for the almost fiction like quality to it, but also due to its sudden and tragic end. The son of a war hero and nurse born in British India in 1941, raised on a farm in County Down, a Captain in the Royal Marines who saw action in the Borneo Confrontation, a Section Commander the Special Boat Service, an Intelligence Agent for the Secret Service, and a diplomat to the UN in Switzerland, Ashdown's story never seemed to be leading towards a career in Politics, but after a chance encounter with a Liberal Party campaigner, it would be the path his life would take.

Returning from Switzerland to an England rocked by domestic strife and joining a Liberal Party shaken by scandal, Ashdown was made the Prospective Candidate for the Conservative safe seat of Yeovil. He fought passionately- though unsuccessfully- for the seat in 1979, though won it in 1983 after building a strategy that would push him against the national swing to an incredible degree. Cutting his teeth in Parliament as Party Spokesman for Trade and Industry, Ashdown fought Privatisation of Royal Ordinance, crusaded against cruise missiles, struggled to preserve the working rights of GCHQ workers, and set the tone of parties eventual Foreign Policy with his opposition to America use of British Airbases to bomb Libya.

The formation of the Social and Liberal Democrats (later simplified to be the Liberal Democrats) in 1988 wasn't much of a surprise, and had been expected for some time, and following the 1987 General election it was seen as inevitable. The process was torturous and farcical, almost scuttled at points due to the issues of policy and the merging of facilities, but in the end the merger was approved by both parties, and on the 3rd March 1988, a new unified political force was born. Ashdown emerged as Leader following a surprisingly aggressive fight with Alan Beith, who following Ashdown's landslide victory would become his Deputy. Whilst solidly on the social democratic wing of the Liberal Party, he was none the less fiercely loyal to the Liberals, which greatly helped the transition into the Liberal Democrats. David Steel would later note that had it not been for a unifying figure like Ashdown, the Party may have never survived its initial years.

And those initial years were tough; plagued by infighting, splitters, a disastrous performance at Richmond (sinking below the bitter David Owen's Continuity SDP in vote share), and an even worse performance at the 1989 European Election, things were looking bleak for the Party. However, with Ashdown at the helm, things began to turn around. Throwing himself completely into his Leadership, the energetic and charismatic Leader led his Party forward, unfettered by failure, building morale, recovering finances, and rallying to a membership that was increasing nearly everyday. And despite scandal earlier in the year over his romantic involvement with his secretary, there wasn't much that put a dampener on the Liberal spirit. After all, at least he hadn't killed a dog.

A string of by-election victories in Eastbourne, Ribble Vally, and Kincardine & Deeside would lead the Party into the 1992 General Election. Whilst the election was by no means a success for the young party, which endured a net loss of two seats and falling short of their prediction in the exit poll, the party achieved a goal that for many years to come would be more important; cementing the Liberal Democrats as Britain’s Third Party. They had 20 seats and 17.8% of the national vote, and for Ashdown, that was enough. He had weathered the initial storm, and both he and the party emerged stronger for it.

The next three years of Ashdown’s leadership would be set against a major shift in British Politics- the rise of Tony Blair and New Labour. In 1992 Ashdown began meeting with Blair, then Shadow Home Secretary, in secret to discuss the possibility of a Coalition Government following the next election. In spite of Labour’s poll lead, which grew wider everyday, there was a very real fear within Labour that this was smoke with little fire and they would be unable to capitalise on this, like in 1992, so Blair sought a safety net. Following the death of Labour Leader John Smith and Blair’s ascension to the Leadership, the meetings moved out of the shadows and backrooms and became more formal, though considerably more frigid as John Prescott and Gordon Brown were uneasy towards to the idea of supporting Proportional Representation, a long time Liberal goal that would become a bugbear between the parties in later years.

1994 passed with more successes; two seats in Europe, a far cry for the abysmal performance in 1989, and victories in Newbury, Christchurch, and Eastleigh. In the Local Elections, the Party saw continued success, with a steady growth of some 450 Councillors in both 1994 and 1995 as the Tory vote collapsed. New Labour launched the same year and changed British Politics, dragging the Labour party rightwards and toward the centre, into the Liberal Democrats political stomping ground. Ashdown remained confident in his parties abilities with a surprise victory in Littleborough & Saddleworth, though internally began to realign and shift the Party more towards the left.

As the end of 1995 was approaching, things were looking hopeful. From dead on arrival to a tremendous force to be reckoned with, with Ashdown at the helm the Liberal Democrats felt like they could take on the world. However, on the 27th of November 1995, Ashdown was involved in an altercation whilst touring his Constituency with the local vicar in the aftermath of a racially motivated firebombing. Taunted and heckled by a gang of youths, he invited one to walk with him- instead the young man pulled a knife and cut Ashdown’s throat.

The death of Jeremy Ashdown is considered by many to be a watershed moment in British Politics, with the contemporary reaction comparable to the reactions towards the death of John Smith from only a year and a half before. Tributes would be made in Parliament from John Major, Tony Blair, and others, a deep respect would be laid at the feet of the fallen leader, and flowers laid where he fell. In Westminster Village, there was a mourning period, and across the country there was a sense of sadness, if not grief, at the untimely death of a man who whilst was certainly never seen as the next Prime Minister, was none the less somebody that everyone had at least heard of, for better or for worse.

Not an eye in Britain was dry, but as the black suits were put away and damp handkerchiefs stuffed back into pockets, the future kept its murky funeral shroud. Alan Beith, in his capacity as the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, took over for a brief two months until a new Leader could be found. Many had expected Beith himself to run for Leadership, but he was quick to rule himself out. Others looked to former Party President Charles Kennedy to run, but, for reasons that would only become clear years later, Kennedy did not stand. Instead, a different man stepped forwards to take the wheel, and lead the Party into the next millennium.
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Gone Fishin'
This is going to be so fucking good oh my god. A new shifty TL! yussss

I love the links too, I need to figure that out. Never seen it before.
Happy to see you're excited :)

I think Iain is using them as well for his thing, they're quite handy.
Couple of proof reading things, if you don't mind

every day

is it?
Thank you (and @fjihr) for pointing those out, I'll give it a proper look over later once I'm on my laptop again.
I don't know what I was expecting, but the murder of Paddy Ashdown was certainly not it. You undoubtedly have my attention.

Minor point; I think you mean Ashdown was involved in an altercation, not an alteration.
Interesting, it reminds me of that assassination attempt on that LD MP around 2000, when someone attacked him during a surgery with a katana.
Part Two: Campbell


Gone Fishin'

Menzies Campbell

If Ashdown was considered the helmsman of the Party, then Menzies Campbell was perhaps the able-bodied navigator. Entering Parliament in the 1987 General Election as a Liberal for the constituency of North East Fife, after four previous failed attempts in the preceding elections for the constituencies of Greenock & Port Glasgow and East Fife, the former olympian was considered a man of missed opportunities. Had he entered Parliament earlier like the younger Ashdown, many considered that in retrospect he may have become leader instead of him. Instead for thirteen years he had worked as an Advocate, joining the Queen's Counsel in 1982- a respected career and one he revelled in, but after sprinting, his passion was politics. Winning the traditionally Conservative seat of North East Fife on a slender majority that increased through the 1992 General Election, he was elevated to the Frontbench of the Liberal Democrats to be the parties Defence Spokesperson, briefly serving as the Foreign Spokesperson before being thrust into the Leadership.

The death of Paddy Ashdown was an unbelievable tragedy and loss for the Party. However for some in the Party, it was also an opertunity. Prior to his death, there was a sense that the Liberal Democrats would suffer in the next election, unable to keep the momentum they had in 1992 and because of Labour's shift to the centre, they would be squashed between them and the Conservatives. It was seen that, in order to keep the momentum, the Party would have to further distinguish itself from the new Labour Party, and to them this meant breaking off with Labour. Both Simon Hughes and David Alton sought to champion this position in their leadership campaigns, whilst Campbell, an old friend of the Shadow Lord Chancellor Derry Irvine and the Shadow Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar, rejected this idea, believing that co-operating would be the best opportunity the Party had at that moment to pursue constitutional and electoral reform, an opportunity that may never come again, sharing Ashdown's Grimondesque belief that supporting Labour in such a way would be the best bet the Party had of breaking the Conservative Parties homogeny. Positioning himself in the centre of the party, Campbell quickly grew to be a unity candidate and a steady hand on the till, a stoic and sober helmsman in the cloth of his predecessor. He would win the leadership in early January by a wide margin over Hughes and Alton.

Beyond holding Yeovil, 1996 passed without a major by-election victory, which proved somewhat embarrassing for the new leadership. But the Liberal Democrats performance in the local elections kept him buyout, with the Party making a steady gain of 144 Councillors whilst the Conservatives sunk further behind and Labour struck further ahead. An analysis at the time would note that a majority of Councillors and Councils that the Conservatives lost were pick-ups by Labour, and with a General Election on the horizon, this was disconcerting; the fear was that the Liberal Democrats would be squeezed due to a lack of clear water between the Tories and Labour, a situation that Campbell dreaded. Additionally during the year, the Party received two defecting Conservative Members of Parliament, Emma Nicholson, the first Conservative to cross floor to the Party since Christopher Brocklebank-Foweler crossed the floor to join the SDP in 1981, and Peter Thurnham, who left his Party following the publication of the Scott and Nolan Reports. Whilst attempts to tempt John Gorst as the year ended proved unsuccessful, the two served as major propaganda coups for the Liberal Democrats.

As 1997 dawned, there was the air of change. For the country, the Conservatives were the sick men of politics, an old Byzantine group about to be swept away for what seemed like forever. In a speech to the University of Glasgow, Campbell would summarised this feeling by harkening to the American political scientist, Francis Fukuyama, stating that it felt like "...the end of history will be soon upon us...", though warning of the hubris such a belief may cause. The General Election itself came on the 22nd May following a blistering month long campaign, in which the Liberal Democrats, much like their Labour counterparts, campaigned on improvements in education and healthcare, promising a £2 billion investment into the former and to cut the bureaucracy and end the two tired system of the latter, as well as emphasising longstanding Liberal commitments to electoral and constitutional reform. John Sharkey, the former joint managing director of Saachi & Saachi and senior figure behind the Conservative Parties 1987 campaign, would handle the advertising and political broadcasts- the campaign may not have been as slick as New Labour, but it was on point; to make a difference, vote Liberal Democrats. An issue was made of Campbell's age, as he was the oldest Party leader at 56- the campaign sought to emphasises his experience and statesman like qualities, leadings to him being dubbed 'Campstone' by an unimaginative BBC reporter. A strategy that proved important was the of targeting of marginal seats, with the Party pouring its resources and energy into the marginals in an effort to make tactical gains and avoid being squeezed between the two parties.

The result of the election was tremendous, predicted but earth shattering none the less. The Tories captured 30.6% of the vote, returning with only 157 seats, a wipeout of half the Party and their worst ever results. Labour was triumphant with 44.3% and 424 seats, an overall majority of 182, and the Liberal Democrats with 17.7% and 49 seats. The results for the Liberal Democrats was outstanding, with the highest number of seats a third Party had gained since 1929, an increase in spite only a slight drop in vote share. Tony Blair would call the election a "new dawn". And Campbell couldn't agree more.

And as this new dawn unfolded, the Liberal Democrats looked inwards. They had won their best result in almost seventy years, but at the same time were not in Government, despite a curious rumbling during cabinet formation and rumours from insiders that Campbell would be offered the Foreign Portfolio. Campbell reshuffled the Party Frontbench, and among numerous changes, an important movement was the elevation of Simon Hughes, who was bought up from from Health and into Home Affairs to replace Alan Beith, who himself was sent to the Whips. The move was something of a curiosity, as Hughes had run against Campbell in 1996 and went against the much expected Richard Livsey, who had recently reentered Parliament after loosing his seat in 1992. Campbell stood by his choice, citing Hughes experience as reason for his promotion, however this did little to settle his critics.

The rest of the year and through the next would be dominated by the new Government's decision to form a Joint Cabinet Committee, headed by Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, which would explore constitutional reform, such as reform on an electoral level and in the Lords. The other was the long awaited devolution referendums in Scotland and Wales, the former of which Campbell threw himself into, campaigning passionately with Donald Dewar and Alex Salmond for a Scottish Parliament. Richard Livsey, who was made Welsh Spokesperson and regained his position as Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, spearheaded the Parties part of the campaign alongside Alex Carlile for a devolved Welsh Assembly. Scotland would vote in a landslide for a devolved Parliament; Wales would narrowly reject it. The latter result wasn't too wounding for Campbell, however for Livsey it resulted in his resignation, and for Labour it forced them to rethink their approach to devolution.

During the period, the shape of Campbell's leadership emerged, and for some it was disconcerting. To some, he was an authoritative moderniser, one who stuck firmly into the centre and listened to whomever was the most sensible, not closest to his positions. To others, his authoritative tone struck a cord, and his stoic personality made approaching him difficult. He strutted around and groomed himself into the appearance of an elder statesman, commanding respect with his strong grasp of foreign policy and legal affairs, but whilst straight talking during PMQ's, there was much to be desired, especially in comparison to the quick witted and young Conservative Leader, William Hague. Additionally, whilst having bought Simon Hughes to the Frontbench, perhaps one of the more leftwing members who would rise to such a level, he often favoured the right of the party, listening more often than not to Malcolm Bruce and Bruce's successor, Vince Cable, who joined the Frontbench in 2000 to become Treasury Spokesperson. Even though Hughes would become deputy leader following the 2001 election, there was a clear gulf between them. And this is not to mention the more frigid attitude Campbell took to Charles Kennedy, who's attendance became erratic during the 52nd Parliament.

Liberal fortunes showed the signs of entering decline. Under Hague, the Conservatives began to claw their way back, first by holding Uxbridge and Beckenham in by-elections, the first Conservative holds since Hague's own by-election victory in 1989. The Liberal Democrats made a gain in Winchester, overturning the extremely narrow Conservative majority after the courts voided the result, but when compared to the Conservatives holding a seat, it was nothing. The 1998 local elections proved even more unnerving, as the Conservatives made a large gain, with most of their council seats coming from the Liberal Democrats.

Despite this, 1999 would be more than fruitful. In local elections, Labour took the brunt of looses, shredding over a thousand councillors in comparison to the Liberal Democrats seventy or so. In Scotland, Jim Wallace, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, led the Party into third place in the first Parliamentary election, behind Dewar's Labour and Salmon's SNP, but a single seat ahead of David McLetchie's Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats would form the first Scottish Government as the junior partner to Labour. In Europe, the Party saw a dramatic increase in seats, shuttling from two to twelve MEP's, making them the largest liberal group in Europe. This dramatic growth was thanks to the introduction of proportional representation, which only further fuelled the Liberal Democrats campaign for it and made Labour more anxious of it.

Additionally, House of Lords reform- a particular passion of Campbell's- would finally come in 1999. Whilst Labour's goals were more limited than Campbell's, who made no secret he wanted to one day see the institution been an elected one, he none the less supported Labour's more limited desire to remove hereditary peers, throwing himself into the fight to change the ancient institution, hoping that it would one day lead to further reform. The end result was the House of Lords Act of 1999, which passed despite stark opposition from the Conservative Party and Labour rebels, and resistance in the House of Lords. The Liberal Democrats support of the Act would in a way serve to undermine Campbell, who was seen by his critics as failing to act as opposition to the Labour Government. Whilst this was somewhat unfair, the Liberal Democrats having been critical of Labour's economic plan and tax schemes, the image of Campbell standing beside Blair was one that became increasingly common (famously, Peter Brookes of The Times would eschew the common 'Ming the Merciless' in favour of portraying Campbell as Blair's Man Servant). However, affairs in Eastern Europe and Africa would draw a terse line between the two Parties.

The first line came over Kosovo in 1999. British forces, as part of a NATO mission, took part in bombing runs against Serbia in an effort to prevent the persecution of the native Albanian population. The move would be decisive- NATO did not receive the blessing of the UN, and Blair did not seek a mandate in the House. An attempt was launched in the Labour Party to force a motion, but failed by a handful of votes. Whilst Hague was quick on the offensive, Campbell's eloquent speech to the House was none the less important, if only for the events that would succeed it in years to come; noting that the Governments move was constitutionally problematic, and that NATO had failed to gain support from the UN in intervening in a non-NATO members affairs, in the process effectively ignoring its own Charter, he would ask on what grounds the Government believed it had the right to intervene. Whilst the Government's response was clear over Kosovo, even after the end of his leadership his question reverberated. The second line came in 2000 with the British intervention into the Sierra Leone Civil War, a risky move by Blair who which Britain took alone. Whilst it was an unparalleled success, it was unnerving for the same reasons as Kosovo- events had overtaken themselves, and the House had little say in the intervention until it reached the the question of continuing peacekeeping forces in the country. The Liberal Democrats were highly critical, with Campbell and Charles Kennedy attacking the Governments conduct, though this was tampered by the success of the operation. None the less, a gap had opened, and it would only continue to grow, and the words on everyones lips were "Where next?"

The new millennium also saw the 2000 Local Elections, where Labour continued to bleed, with the Conservatives making gains whilst only taking comparatively little from the Liberal Democrats. This was in part thanks to the ongoing Fuel Protests, Hughes accusing the Government of having done too little too late in response to the protests. In other places, The Liberal Democrats took a surprising second place in the first London Mayoral Election, behind Labour's Ken Livingstone but just a few votes ahead of the scandal ridden Conservative nominee Jeffrey Archer. Whilst Susan Kramer was certainly not the next Mayor, it was none the less taken as a success by the Party. Shortly after Halloween a reshuffle of the Frontbench would occur, with Charles Kennedy sent to Agriculture, Malcolm Bruce moved over to Foreign, and Vince Cable raised to the Treasury.

As 2001 rolled in, so did an outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth, which devastated regions such as Cumbria and saw thousands of cows and sheep destroyed across the country. Kennedy was surprising in his new roll, throwing himself passionately into it, attacking the Government's management of the crisis. During one such attack, Campbell reportedly turned to Cable and asked "Where's he been?" Due to the severity of the crisis, Campbell and Hague would call upon Blair to delay the planned May General Election, which was pushed back to August in hopes of ending the outbreak before going to the country. Blair did so, and wvents in America would overtake him.

The 2001 General Election was held in the shadow President Al Gore's assassination and the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York. Overnight, the campaign transformed, with images of New York streets filled with ash turning it into a campaign on Foreign Policy and who would keep Britain safe. Campbell found himself in an advantageous position, and with Malcolm Bruce was often interview regarding the situation, providing the campaign a plus that he could have never imagined, and as polling day drew, it was clearly a success. With 19.7% of the vote, Campbell returned with 56 seats. The Conservatives sunk to 152, with only 30.1% of the vote, whilst Labour went to 421 and 43.1% of the vote, with an overall majority of 178 seats. Hague would resign. The Liberal Democrats strategy followed much from the last election, though this time more emphasis was placed on 'scalping' the Conservatives. For all their effort, the only significant gain would be West Dorset, the seat of the Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin.

For the rest of 2001, the Liberal Democrats found themselves at a crossroad. The Lords Act was given a White Paper, and shortly there after The Joint Cabinet Committee came to an end, Campbell cited that Labour was no longer committed to meaningful electoral reform, and the differences over Foreign and Economic policy was to great. At the Party Conference, Campbell announced the Party was at a crossroads and that they would begin working to a new goal- replacing the Conservatives as the Opposition. Whilst in retrospect this was something of a white elephant, for many it was seen that if the Conservatives continued to loose seats, then the Liberal Democrats had the potential to fill their void. This new policy was reflected in the more aggressive campaign during the 2002 Local Elections, in which the Liberal Democrats made their first gains since 1997, though this was overshadowed as the new Conservative Leader Tim Yeo edging Labour out in popular vote.

Tragedy would strike in September when Campbell was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of blood cancer. Attempting to lead his Party during this period would prove strenuous, forcing Simon Hughes to step in for long periods as Campbell secretly sought treatment. Eventually on the 13th of November, with his wife at his side, Campbell announced that he would resign from the Party Leadership in order to undergo treatment full-time, staying on only until the new Leader was elected. The able-bodied navigator was out, and after a bruising leadership election, a new one would take the helm.

Following an intense course of chemotherapy, Campbell would make a full recovery. He served on his successors Frontbench as the Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs until 2007, ultimately leaving the house in the 2011 May General Election. He would be given a peerage for his services, and, in 2015, was made the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Australia, a post he holds today.

Campbell's leadership, in time, would be defined by the growth of the Liberal Democrats. Whilst today it may seem strange that this Party was able to climb so far (and further still), and although much of this would be marked down thanks to the decline of the Conservative Party, Campbell's sober and dignified leadership is still something that many Liberal Democrats take pride in, often harkening back to as being a golden age for the Party. Serving during a period of change, not just for his Party but for Britain and the World, he is remembered fondly as a steady hand on the wheel that steered the ship towards a better tomorrow, and a man that Ashdown would have been proud to have known succeeded him.

His successor would have no such luck.
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