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EDITIONS
Lib Dem leadership Tuesday, 22 June, 1999, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
CV: Jackie Ballard
Born: 4 January 1953

Education: London School of Economics, Yeovil College

Personal: Divorced with one daughter

Non-political career: Social worker

Political career: Ms Ballard was recruited into the Liberal Party in 1986 by her local MP - Paddy Ashdown - and was persuaded by him to stand for Crewkerne Town Council and South Somerset District Council in May the following year.

She was elected to both councils and within a year was deputy leader of South Somerset District Council, becoming leader in 1990-91.

In the 1987 general election she was the computer manager on Paddy Ashdown's successful general election team.

She was selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for Taunton in December 1989. She stood at the 1992 general election, achieving a 6.4% swing from the Conservatives although failing to gain the seat.

Ms Ballard was elected to Somerset County Council in May 1993 and immediately appointed deputy leader of the council, a post which she relinquished in 1995 to concentrate on her parliamentary ambitions.

In 1997 she was elected to Parliament to represent Taunton with a majority of 2,443 - the first woman ever to represent the seat.

How others see her: "Bears a striking resemblance to Ann Widdecombe", "very tough", "aggressive manner".

Interests: Cajun music, Celtic rock, swimming, sensitive to the problem of Leukaemia

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