At the last election, UK centrist party the Liberal Democrats were reduced from around 50 to 8 MPs. After this catastrophe, their leader resigned, forcing a leadership contest. Two of the party's 8 remaining MPs stood, neither of whom was a well-known name in politics. Unsurprisingly, the winner has not revived the electoral fortunes of the party.
At the same election a couple of high-profile MPs for Labour, the left-wing party, also lost their seats. Chief among them was Ed Balls who had been tipped as a potential future leader. However, losing his seat seemed to disqualify him as a candidate in that party's leadership contest. Since he had the potential to unite the two wings of that party, his loss has potentially had a huge impact on their fortunes.
Both these event made me wonder why British parties consider it essential that their leader has a seat in Parliament. The role of leader would seem to be one of management, which does not directly require a vote in Parliament. Even if it did, it's merely a single vote which would rarely - if ever - matter a great deal in passing legislation.
Why don't British parties allow non-MPs to stand for party leadership positions?