We exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.The Liberal Democrat Constitution (https://www.libdems.org.uk/constitution)
The Yeovil Constituency has existed, with minor boundary alterations, since 1918. At present it sits wholly within the District of South Somerset (SSDC). On the 31st of March 2023, SSDC will cease to exist and will be replaced by the new Somerset Council.
The social and political upheavals of the First World War saw major electoral reform introduced in February 1918 in the form of the 'Representation of the People Act, 1918'. Together with extending the franchise to hitherto denied citizens, the Act 'provided for the 'Redistribution of Seats at Parliamentary Elections'.
Within the 'administrative county of Somerset the creation of six Members for Parliament together with six 'Divisions of Parliamentary County' included the creation of Yeovil division. This division brought together the 'Rural Districts of Chard, Langport, and Yeovil, the Municipal Boroughs of Chard and Yeovil, and the Urban Districts of Crewkerne and Ilminster' (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1918/64/pdfs/ukpga_19180064_en.pdf).
Since 1918, the constituency has remained relatively stable, only loosing the towns of Martock and Somerton to the new constituency of Somerton and Frome in 1983. And although it did loose Ilchester too, they were later returned to Yeovil in 2010. For most of its existance, the Yeovil constituency has been Conservative held, albeit with slim majorities.
Liberal Member of Parliament for Yeovil 1983 - 1988, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Yeovil 1988 - 2001
However, in 1983 a young, energetic Liberal wrested the seat from Conservative control for the first time in its 65 year history. That young enthusiastic MP, Paddy Ashdown, went on to hold the seat for the next 18 years, both for the Liberal Party and then the newly formed Liberal Democrats. Recognised as a hard working dedicated Member of Parliament for the Yeovil constituency, he set the bar when it came to representing the people of Yeovil.
Sadly, Paddy passed away after a short illness in December 2018.
Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for the Yeovil Constituency 2001 to 2015
In 2001, when Paddy decided to stand down, the seat was retained for the Liberal Democrats by David Laws, who held the seat for the next 14 years. In much the same mould as Paddy, David dedicated his time and energy to standing up for Yeovil and its residents. Sadly, David lost his seat in the 2015 General Election when the Liberal Democrats were decimated across the country and he retired from politics.
But, it is on the foundations of this proud tradition of returning hard working, dedicated and committed Members for Parliament, that the Yeovil Constituency Liberal Democrats seek to return the next MP for Yeovil. To that end, we have a dedicated band of volunteers and supporters who are helping us towards achieving our aim.
I can’t think of many weeks where I wasn’t [in Yeovil] on a Friday and a Saturday - David Laws MP for Yeovil 2001-2015David Laws, Interviewed by Jen Gold and Peter Riddell, 4 February 2016 [Online] (Available at: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/ministers-reflect/person/david-laws/)
The constituency ... I basically was there all Fridays, most Saturdays and getting vast amounts of constituency correspondence coming up every day which I could deal with in the evenings, maybe an hour every day in the evening was constituency correspondence. But compared probably with some Tory ministers – I remember George [Osborne] being amazed at the beginning of the Parliament when I said I was going to be going back to Yeovil every Friday and it hadn’t occurred to him at all that he could visit his constituency at all in a week - David Laws MP for Yeovil 2001-2015David Laws, Interviewed by Jen Gold and Peter Riddell, 4 February 2016 [Online] (Available at: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/ministers-reflect/person/david-laws/)