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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 16:28 GMT
Contenders: Lib Dem leadership
Fridge magnets with Lib Dem MPs on, as sold at the party conference
Fridge magnets featuring Lib Dem MPs proved popular at their conference

Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne are the only remaining contenders to replace Sir Menzies Campbell as Liberal Democrat leader. Several other leading figures within the party have ruled themselves out.

NICK CLEGG

Nick Clegg
AGE: 40
JOB: Home Affairs spokesman
FAMILY: Married, two children
EDUCATION: Westminster School, Cambridge University
BEFORE MP: Journalist, lecturer and Euro MP

The party's home affairs spokesman was elected to Parliament in 2005, at the age of 38, and is one of the two front-runners for the leadership.

An effective television performer on the economically liberal right of the party, Mr Clegg, now 40, has carved out a home affairs policy distinct from the "tough liberalism" of his predecessor in the role, Mark Oaten.

An expert skier, who speaks five European languages, he cut his political teeth as an adviser to European Commissioner Leon Brittan before spending five years as a Lib Dem MEP, during which he pushed for reform of procedures in the European Parliament.

Key message:

Mr Clegg has promised to "create opportunity for all, deliver security through liberty and find the confidence to shape the changing world". He has said he will go to court rather than abide by the government's identity card scheme. Mr Clegg backs keeping an independent nuclear weapons system for the UK.

Ladbrokes odds: 2/7

CHRIS HUHNE

Chris Huhne
AGE: 53
JOB: Environment spokesman
FAMILY: Married, five children
EDUCATION: Westminster School, Oxford University
BEFORE MP: Journalist, businessman and Euro MP

One of a batch of ambitious MPs elected in 2005, his profile soared when he challenged for the party leadership, coming second to Sir Menzies, in 2006.

A former economics journalist and businessman, the 53-year-old was the Lib Dems' deputy economics spokesman before his move to the environment brief.

Mr Huhne was an MEP from 1999 to 2005, before becoming MP for Eastleigh. Educated at Westminster School, the Sorbonne and Magdalen College, Oxford, he has written four books.

Key message:

Mr Huhne says he wants to lead a party which is "radical, green, honest and angry about the gross unfairness in Britain". Like Mr Clegg he has said he would go to court to fight ID cards, but, unlike him, he would abolish the UK's nuclear weapons system.

Ladbrokes odds: 5/2

RULED OUT: CHARLES KENNEDY

Charles Kennedy
AGE: 47
JOB: Backbencher, former party leader
FAMILY: Married, one child
EDUCATION: Lochaber High School, Fort William, Glasgow University
BEFORE MP: Journalist and broadcaster - an MP since he was 23

The party's most electorally successful leader for 80 years, he was forced out after a rebellion by members of his front bench team.

He took over the top job in 1999, after the party had achieved a breakthrough at the 1997 general election with 46 MPs elected.

He built on that success, making impressive gains in local government and gaining the party a real taste of power in Scotland. In 2005 the party saw 62 MPs elected - its highest tally since the 1920s.

Now 47, he stepped down in early 2006 after a rebellion by members of his front bench team and admitting to a drink problem, but is still held in high regard by many Liberal Democrats across the country.

What he said about running:

Mr Kennedy told the BBC he was "highly unlikely" to stand, but did not flatly rule out a bid. However, he did not run.

RULED OUT: STEVE WEBB

Steve Webb
AGE: 42
JOB: Head of election manifesto team
FAMILY: Married, two children
EDUCATION: Dartmouth High School, Oxford University
BEFORE MP: Economist and professor of social policy at Bath University

The 42-year-old Northavon MP is currently charged with drawing up the Liberal Democrat manifesto and is seen as a popular figure, particularly on the left of the party.

A big fan of social networking sites as a way of engaging with younger voters, he has 1,000 "friends" on his own Facebook page.

A former economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, he was appointed professor of social policy at Bath University shortly before his election victory in 1997 and has published several books and pamphlets on social security.

He is a committed Christian, has an interest in poverty alleviation and is one of the leading voices of the campaign for third world debt relief.

What he said about running:

He said he had enough nominations from MPs to mount a leadership bid but had decided to pull out and throw his weight behind Nick Clegg.

RULED OUT: SIMON HUGHES

Simon Hughes
AGE: 56
JOB: Lib Dem president
FAMILY: Single
EDUCATION: Christ College, Brecon, Cambridge University
BEFORE MP: Barrister

A popular figure with the Lib Dem grassroots, the party president has twice stood for the party leadership, losing out to Sir Menzies and Charles Kennedy but asked whether he would stand this time, he told the BBC: "That's a categorical 'no'".

The North Southwark and Bermondsey MP, 56, also stood unsuccessfully against Ken Livingstone for London mayor in May 2004, coming third.

A barrister by profession, he is known for his views on civil liberties and has served as the party's justice spokesman.

He is also an anti-nuclear campaigner, although his public backing for Sir Menzies Campbell's "wait and see" policy on replacing Trident helped the party leader win a crucial conference vote in 2007. He recently warned Sir Menzies to "do better, get better at getting the message across better, at getting the policy out better."

What he said about running:

Mr Hughes - who strongly rejected wielding the knife against Sir Menzies - categorically ruled out standing this time round.

RULED OUT: DAVID LAWS

David Laws
AGE: 41
JOB: Children, schools and families spokesman
FAMILY: Single
EDUCATION: St George's College, Weybridge, Cambridge University
BEFORE MP: Investment banker

After gaining a double first in maths at Cambridge the 41-year-old had a high-flying career in banking before entering Parliament in 2001 as MP for Yeovil - the seat of former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown.

He is seen as being on the economically liberal right of the party and was one of the MPs behind The Orange Book - setting out a more free market approach to Lib Dem policy.

But he rebuffed an attempt by the Conservatives to poach him in March 2007, reportedly telling George Osborne he was "not a Tory".

He impressed Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell with his mastery of the unglamorous work and pensions brief and was rewarded in the July 2007 reshuffle with the newly-created post of children, schools and families spokesman.

What he said about running:

Mr Laws said he wanted to concentrate on being a constituency MP and his role as a high-profile party spokesman.

RULED OUT: VINCENT CABLE

Vincent Cable
AGE:64
JOB: Acting leader, Treasury spokesman
FAMILY: Married, three children
EDUCATION: Nunthorpe Grammar School, York, Cambridge University
BEFORE MP: Lecturer and Shell's chief economist

A Lib Dem heavyweight, the 64-year-old deputy leader and Treasury spokesman has been credited with giving the party's economic policies a new edge.

He began his political life with Labour, leaving when the party lurched leftwards in the early 1980s to join the SDP and has pursued a successful career outside politics - he was chief economist for oil giant Shell International.

The Twickenham MP first won his seat in 1997 after running for Parliament at every previous election since 1983. Before covering his current front bench brief he was trade and industry spokesman.

He was a key supporter of Sir Menzies Campbell's successful party leadership campaign and was rewarded with the position of deputy leader. He takes over the leadership in a caretaker role while a leadership contest takes place.

What he said about running:

He told the BBC he would not stand, saying he thought that an older candidate was "not electable".

RULED OUT: EDWARD DAVEY

Ed Davey
AGE: 41
JOB: Chief of staff
FAMILY: Married
EDUCATION: Nottingham High School, Oxford University
BEFORE MP: Economics advisor to Lib Dems and management consultancy

An economics expert, who has been tipped as a future party leader, the 41-year-old is given to making detailed, forensic speeches on tax and finance policies.

He was formerly the Lib Dem spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, has served as a junior Treasury spokesman and was leader of the Lib Dem London Group.

His previous job was as party trade and industry spokesman - he is currently chief of staff and campaigns co-ordinator.

An MP since 1997, he is also the holder of an award for bravery after saving a woman who had fallen onto the tracks at a London train station.

What he said about running:

Mr Davey said the "imminent birth of our first child must take priority over politics".

RULED OUT: SUSAN KRAMER

Susan Kramer
AGE: 57
JOB: Transport spokeswoman
FAMILY: Widow, two children
EDUCATION: St Paul's Girls' School, Oxford University
BEFORE MP: Banker

A former City high-flyer, who was vice-president of a leading international bank before starting her own company to work on transport projects in Eastern Europe, the 57-year-old was appointed to the Lib Dem treasury team after entering Parliament as MP for Richmond Park in 2005.

A former president of the Oxford Union, she has sometimes been tipped as a future party leader, despite coming fourth in the contest to be London mayor in 2000. She is now Transport spokeswoman.

She has campaigned against the privatisation of the underground and was a member of the board of Transport for London.

She also contributed a chapter to the Orange Book, which set out a free market policy agenda for the party.

What she said about running:

Ms Kramer ruled herself out after discussing the prospect of running with her family.

RULED OUT: JOHN HEMMING

John Hemming
AGE: 47
JOB: Backbencher
FAMILY: Married, four children
EDUCATION: King Edward's School, Birmingham, and Oxford University
BEFORE MP: Scientist and businessman

An MP since 2005, Mr Hemming was a Birmingham councillor and a successful businessman before entering Parliament.

He contested the Birmingham Yardley seat in 1992, 1997 and 2001 before finally winning it by 2,672 votes.

During his business career, Mr Hemming helped develop security codes for internet banking.

He has a colourful past, having been the drummer for a heavy metal rock group and attempted to become Britain's first man in space.

But Mr Hemming is also chairman of Justice for Families, which campaigns for parents' rights regarding social services and law.

What he said about running:

Mr Hemming wrote on his blog that it was "quite clear" he would not be able to garner enough support to be a contender.





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