Gillian Eileen Sopwith (b. July 10, 1957) is a former leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of the United Islands in the East Mainland state legislature, and subsequently Leader of the Opposition in that state. She led the Opposition from April 30, 2006 to March 7, 2008, when she resigned after a losing a vote of no-confidence in her party room. Prior to her stint as leader, Sopwith was Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism in the LDP government of Robin Sales.
|Position||Leader of the East Mainland Opposition|
|Term in office||April 30, 2006 - March 7, 2008|
|Preceded by||David Brennan (interim)|
|Succeeded by||Sebastian Dorido|
|Political party||Liberal Democrat|
|Total time in office||1 year, 10 months, 7 days|
|Born||10th July 1957|
|Spouse||Adam Frost (married 1983)|
Sopwith was first elected to the Mainland state legislature in 1990, for the Democratic Party of the United Islands. She became the state's Minister for Energy in 1997. In 2000, she contested, and won, a seat in the new East Mainland state legislature, as a Democrat. She was appointed to the ministry by Chief Minister Robin Sales, and made Minister for Education. She was demoted to Arts, Sport and Tourism in 2003, a move many claimed was aimed at curbing her leadership ambitions. Though at the time, the Democrats were the junior coalition partner in East Mainland, many believed she intended to take the place of Democrats state leader David Brennan. When the two parties merged into the LDP in 2004, Sopwith did not challenge Brennan for his position. She remained Arts minister in the new ministry.
After the 2006 election loss, Sopwith stood for the party leadership against Brennan, who was acting leader, and three other candidates, failing to win a majority of votes in the first ballot due to an abstention, resulting in a 19-19 tie (after preferences). A second ballot was held three days later, which Sopwith won 22-16 after preferences, again with one abstention. Sopwith was an unexpected victor, as most expected Brennan to become leader.
Since becoming leader, Sopwith has proved to be an aggressive opponent in the legislature, particularly targeting her attacks on the Georgeland Alliance, who are in coalition with the Conservatives. On September 1, 2006, Sopwith called Alliance leader and deputy Chief Minister Georgia Cobar a "ho", prompting her to withdraw the remark after a rebuke by the Speaker.
In late February 2008, tensions between Sopwith's faction of former Democrats and the Broad Left faction had reached boiling point, to the extent that a number of Broad Left legislators boycotted the chamber. On March 3, backbench legislator Kieren O'Donough called for a vote of no-confidence in Sopwith's leadership. The vote took place on March 7, with 27 out of 41 legislators voting against Sopwith. She subsequently resigned as party leader, announcing she would stand again for the leadership when the party met on March 11 to elect a new leader. Sopwith, despite initial optimism, lost most of her support base to the non-factionally-aligned Sebastian Dorido, who was subsequently elected leader.
David Brennan (interim)
|Leader of the East Mainland Opposition|
April 30, 2006-