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A similar group to the 'metropolitan elite', this is liberal in the left rather than right wing sense. First used in the UK some time in the late 1990s, it refers to that group of the media, academics, lawyers and others with a supposedly large amount of influence in society, who predominantly inhabit certain posh yet arty areas of North London and probably read The Guardian.

The term is of course a derisive one, used largely by papers such as the Daily Mail to attack what it perceives as an out of touch upper segment of society who try to dictate their left wing morals on to the rest of us, preaching an ideology far removed from that of the normal man. Indeed, the conservative media would say that Tony Blair's New Labour government is the liberal elite at its highest level, a surprising claim given Labour's barely progressive agenda.

In a similar vein to the 'political correctness gone mad!' complaints, an article on the Tory party web site regarding the Stephen Lawrence affair said this:
William Hague has launched an angry attack on Britain’s liberal elite for using the race issue to demoralise every police force in the country. The Conservative leader says they have used the Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence to attack the police and undermine their efforts to reduce crime.
Labour, of course, are among those who formulated the myth that any liberal elite exists that wields significant power in Britain. Many might see the term as a reactionary invention attempting to portray those with progressive views as a snobbish minority.

The Guardian, which seemed to be attempting to defend its readers, published an article on the political climate in terms of peoples attitudes to the supposed liberal elite:

Opponents of the government think New Labour is the liberal elite, while the government insists that the liberal elite is frustrating its wishes. British politics has acquired a new scapegoat.
Sources:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4240579,00.html - "Me? A member of the liberal elite?"
http://www.conservatives.com/newsstory.cfm?article_id=490 - "How the liberal elite has ruined police morale -- Hague"