A belated personal tribute to Tim Farron


Tim Farron took over our party after we had fallen off a cliff and landed amongst particularly dangerous rocks underneath with a team of crocodiles having a good chew at our ankles.

He was exactly what we needed at that time. A passionate liberal and Liberal. A fighter. Someone with bags of energy and a great, charismatic speaker. He is also a man of great honesty and integrity.

You have to remember the appalling state we were in on 8th May 2015 and then compare it to 8th June 2017. We went from being absolutely gutted to having our highest membership ever, a revitalised campaigning structure and 50% more MPs.

That last one may receive moans from some. As I often say: “When I started supporting the party we had six MPs – we now have 12, so that’s a 100% increase over 47 years!”

But there is some truth there. When you go back to under ten MPs, it takes generations to build the party back up again.

Tim Farron made a fantastic start to that rebuilding process. I would like to pay tribute to him with a few of his marvellous photo tweets from his current summer constituency tour (above and below) – they really do lift the spirits, particularly given what a tremendous and distinctive area Westmorland and Lonsdale is.

But lastly a word on “doing God”. As someone who has read the Bible (both testaments) from end to end at least once and probably the best part of three times, one gets an overview of the thing. Leviticus forbids wearing clothes of mixed fabrics, eating shellfish and having tatoos. Exodus (which I am currently re-reading) has the “word of God” coming to us via Moses telling us precisely how to build a tabernacle with mind-boggling detail such as:

Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them by a skilled worker. All the curtains are to be the same size—twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide. Join five of the curtains together, and do the same with the other five. Make loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and do the same with the end curtain in the other set. Make fifty loops on one curtain and fifty loops on the end curtain of the other set, with the loops opposite each other. Then make fifty gold clasps and use them to fasten the curtains together so that the tabernacle is a unit.

That is just a small excerpt of the pages and pages and pages of detailed instructions which “The Lord said to Moses”.

So with all those sorts of “words of God” in the Old Testament, it really is crazy to focus on one verse in Leviticus about desert sleeping arrangements, particularly as it is balanced later by the story of David and Jonathan.

I apologise for the amateur theology here, but the whole point of God sending his son to live on earth was for him to speak directly to us through him. And he said nothing about homosexuality but a lot about love, forgiveness, not judging others and blessing the down-trodden. I am not rejecting the Old Testament at all, I read it a lot and it has allegorical truth in it, written, as much of it was, for a tribe in danger thousands of years ago. But the key straight-forward stuff is in the New Testament.

So it is just ludicrous that poor old Tim got stuck down a blind alley on the concept of sin. I am very sorry that he did. But, as an antidote, I can only offer my hero in the Christian clerical firmament, the wonderful Archbishop Desmond Tutu as reported by Pink News:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said that he “didn’t choose” to become a defender of gay rights, but that God urges people to “live amicably” and reject homophobia.
Asked by Ann Curry of NBC News why he chose the issue of gay rights as the basis for his campaigning, he answered: “I didn’t choose it, it chose me.
“It’s not a choice; I mean, you don’t say, ‘I choose to be white’. It’s a given. You don’t choose your sexual orientation.”
The former Archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel Prize winner emphasised his position, which he stated last year, that he would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven.
He said: “I am absolutely, utterly and completely certain that god wouldn’t be homophobic. I really would much rather go to hell than go to a homophobic heaven.”
He dismissed claims that the Bible can be used to attack homosexuality, saying: “The Bible says quite a lot of things, many of which I do not accept at all. The Bible is… the word of God, but it is the word of God through the words of human beings.”
He finished by saying: “God sits there and weeps, because God is saying: ‘Do you know what? You are all my children. You are all members of one family. My family. And when are you going to learn to live amicably together?’


* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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37 Comments

  • Well done, Paul. Tim is a good and decent man – and the party’s loss is Westmorland’s gain again.

    Disagree with Leviticus on shellfish, but there may be more than a metaphorical point on tattoos (I blame the Beckham person for starting it. His body isn’t a temple – it’s a veritable confusion of bad taste) – rant over.

  • Yeovil Yokel 1st Aug '17 - 12:21pm

    Health & Safety alert: it’s best not to look at the camera when using scissors, otherwise….

    Good luck to Tim, glad to see him re-building support amongst his ‘flock’, they’re fortunate to have him as their MP.

  • Phil Beesley 1st Aug '17 - 12:58pm

    I just had a look at the comments for a Guardian interview with David Laws. The hate and disdain for Laws — and disregard for what he has to say — was a reminder of the challenge which Tim Farron bravely faced.

    Perhaps Tim Farron is a man out of time with 2017 politics. That is not necessarily a bad attribute for him. He did a lot for the party.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Aug '17 - 1:17pm

    Paul, as often, a good contribution.

    Tim made a boo boo or two. So what. A fine person and politician. We move on. Him with us.

    We do not need to pay a tribute . He hasn’t gone.

    It’s well meant and appreciated.

  • paul barker 1st Aug '17 - 1:51pm

    Clearly God has a good sense of humour, the Ad that appears after the article in my bit of cyberspace is for a book called THE ANTICHRIST ; Free! Worse than any expect !
    Sounds like BREXIT.
    The description of The Tabernacle is lovely & interesting symbolism.

  • Sue Sutherland 1st Aug '17 - 2:03pm

    Tim did a great job and we still need him to help us call a spade a spade and not an implement which enables the general public to lift soil.

  • Leekliberal 1st Aug '17 - 6:41pm

    Tim has that great quality of inspiring loyalty. He is a man of principle and a true Liberal and I want to thank him for his work in picking up the party after the disaster of 2015!

  • Richard Underhill 1st Aug '17 - 10:41pm

    The leader can be a former commando, but not every party member is a former commando, the leader need not be a typical member, David Lloyd George was not typical either. The leader leads.

  • Bill Fowler 2nd Aug '17 - 7:38am

    I suspect that if there is a God and he has a physical form then it will be that of an hermaphrodite and we will find that us mere humans represent the two sexual sides of God, and just about everything in between. Sure Tim is a great guy but he did not seem to gel with the general public, Nick was a touch too smooth and now we have Vince who seems to have the necessary grit. Be interesting to see if there has been an uptick in membership since his leadership. Hopefully he exploit the current situation where there is a majority in parliament and the country to stay in Europe yet both the main parties are trying to take us out…

  • Stephen Yolland 2nd Aug '17 - 7:56am

    We are about to discover that Vince Cable (or anyone) won’t do a better job than Tim did. The party is wellnogh irrelevant to most voters and we have to patiently rebuild, council Ward by council Ward. It may take 20 years. Time to rediscover community politics – big time.

  • I fully endorse what you write, Paul. The cause of liberalism, with lower case or capital ha been deeply damaged by the way Tim Farron ha been treated. Reading your biblical extracts I couldn’t help wondering if Moses was somewhere in the LGBT spectrum.

  • Pfaul,
    I fully endorse your words. Farron was, is and will remain a decent honourable human being. He was appointed as Captain of the Titanic just as she was about to take her final lurch to the bottom.
    He is no Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King but he was an excellent rallying point for a party in disarray. He is a reminder of why I have such affection for the LibDems in that he is in example of the fairness, decency and honesty of so many of its members.
    I still despair of the party’s apparently aimless wandering over the political battlefield when the nation is craving a clear eyed third force but he took the patient from death’s door, through intensive care and into recovery. I admire him greatly.

  • Yeovil Yokel 2nd Aug '17 - 7:05pm

    Palehorse – your analogy is way off beam: the Lib Dems are not the Titanic (yet) and Tim Farron is not Captain Edward Smith. A better resemblance for Tim would be Arthur Rostron, Captain of the Carpathia, who with skill and considerable seamanship organised the rescue of the Titanic’s survivors.

  • @ Palehorse If we’re the Titanic on the bottom, what are you doing wasting your time here ?

    I prefer Tim as Grace Darling in a rowing boat off the Farne Islands rescuing folk from the sinking Forfarshire in 1838.

  • I disagreed with the second referendum policy and made that clear, but otherwise, I thought that Tim was a good, honest man who was badly treated by his party. To continue the nautical imagery, Tim made a fine, final skipper of the good ship, “Frying Pan.”

  • Sadie Smith 2nd Aug '17 - 10:10pm

    Helpful comment and a good tribute to a very good and dynamic leader.
    He has left his successor a much improved Party to lead.
    There are things to be done. Had the Parliament run its course, Tim would have had the chance to tackle them.
    But I am so glad that Tim did what the Party needed.

  • “what are you doing wasting your time here ?”
    Hope, David, hope.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Aug '17 - 11:43am

    Christianity is not about taking The Bible and creating a religion based on it. In any case, much of the New Testament is explicitly about rejecting the rules and regulations in the Old Testament – see chapters 10 and 11 of the Acts of the Apostles for an obvious example. In any case, where did The Bible come from? There was a lot of discussion in the early centuries of Christianity about exactly what books to include in it and what not.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Aug '17 - 12:29pm

    Mathew Huntbach

    Well mentioned and too often ignored are the aspects of religion , and here especially Judeo -Christian, in there adherence to books, written by many hands , thought by only few to be the hands of God.

    I cannot fathom why Tim or any Christian cannot see that if you literally interpret , or , accept , which is more to the point, the whole bible, how do you reconcile the inumerable disagreements and contradictions in it.

    Mathew, you know from our interactions, I am in the middle of the left right stances and debate, but on certain issues more one way or the other, often in the centre.

    But we in this party have a fairly small difference compared to Jesus and the Pharisees!

    I cannot understand why Christians ,who obsess on women and their role, and also on being gay either, and theirs, cannot see , there is not one word uttered by Jesus that says a single thing to imply the need for lack of equality for women, and there is not one word uttered by Jesus on the subject of being gay.

    The rely on a few choice chunks of Paul , et al, to do so over and above the words of Jesus, the man they refer to as Christ, is a chosen emphasis that is odd in illogical as it is from a point of reference that is theological too.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Aug '17 - 9:56pm

    Lorenzo Cherin

    I cannot fathom why Tim or any Christian cannot see that if you literally interpret , or , accept , which is more to the point, the whole bible,

    Here you go, joining in the unfair and untrue attacks on Tim Farron. I have seen no evidence that Tim is the sort of “Biblical literalist” type you are accusing him of. He is an Evangelical Anglican, rather than a Catholic, but certainly not of an extremist sort. But the anti-Christian bigots love to push the idea that anyone who is a Christian is an extremist type.

    Funnily enough, if we were to do similar to Muslims, we’d be accused of Islamophobia. So why is it acceptable to behave in a way to Christians that it is considered unacceptable to behave to Muslims?

    Consider Pope Francis’s statement here on gay issues. But it remains the official position of the Catholic Church that gay sex is a “sin”. As such, someone who is a Catholic might find it a little embarrassing to be asked about the issue in a way where the only acceptable answer would be “no”. But as soon as they try to say something a bit more, perhaps just to try and reconcile the traditional position with the modern position – it’s BANG, and the sort of false accusations you are making pour in.

    Tim Farron is also a vegetarian, but no-one went on and on at him asking for his exact position on what he thought about people who kill animals for food. Why not? Isn’t that just as relevant an issue? Shouldn’t he also have been accused of being unacceptable as a leader for that reason, because somehow that meant a vote for any Liberal Democrat candidate would then mean a vote to close down the meat industry?

    Is it really the case now that the 1930s Italian and German model of political parties is considered the norm, so that a leader can impose whatever he wants on the party he leads?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Aug '17 - 10:56pm

    Mathew Huntbach

    It is obvious you do not want to interact in a way that is in any sense friendly.

    I wrote in agreement with something you mentioned and it is turned into a diatribe against my stance when you imagine it , not quote it .

    The only accuser is you , of me and any you do not like on any issue.

    I say ” Tim or any ” , I read several sources that say , he literally believes in the bible, it is not made up, there are reports of his views and some interviews that give us that feeling about his stance.

    I said , or, especially so as to not dwell on him, but make a point there are many liberal Christians who take a very liberal stance.

    I am not going to bother interacting with you.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Aug '17 - 12:43am

    Friends, let me not be grieved by seeing fall out two such valued Liberal Democrat colleagues as Matthew Huntbach and Lorenzo Cherin. We don’t actually know exactly what Tim Farron believes, and we have no right to know. He should have been allowed his freedom of thought and of expression, and the latter includes the right all of us should have of not expressing what is felt to be private. We knew, though, that he was a Liberal to his core, and so a genuine upholder of LGTB rights.

    All this we explored at the time of his resignation, along with the reasons we guessed at for that sad happening. Now I look forward to seeing him rise to become a minister in a future coalition government, which his successful leadership of us has completely merited. Many thanks meantime to Paul for initiating this so well deserved tribute.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Aug '17 - 1:12am

    Katharine

    That is good to read.

    I have made so many attempts to interact with Mathew in a measured way.

    There was a time recently I said it would be a shame if he felt he should or might leave this party because he feels it has changed and moved to right of where it was.

    All I get , as ever , on that occasion too, him saying , I cannot make him remain a member.

    No , thanks for the support.

    Too many posts making an effort only to get an insult or criticism.

    I point out when I agree.

    He has not returned it once to me.

    I have had enough bothering .

    It is offputting.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Aug '17 - 7:34am

    Lorenzo Cherin

    I say ” Tim or any ” , I read several sources that say , he literally believes in the bible, it is not made up, there are reports of his views and some interviews that give us that feeling about his stance.

    This is joining in the unfair and untrue attacks on Tim Farron. I have seen no evidence that he is the sort of extremist Biblical literalist you are accusing him of being. The “sources” you say you have read are part of the attacks on him that any decent Christian or liberal would know are nasty and wrong.

  • Tony Dawson 4th Aug '17 - 9:45am

    I actually think that Vince Cable is potentially the best Leader we might have available for the present circumstances – the problem is that the circumstances should never have been so dire!

    Tim Farron represented the drive, passion and enthusiasm which the party needed. He had not gone along totally with the ‘Emperors new clothes’ crew who saw only joy in the Coalition – he had at least escaped with vest and underpants. 😉 As a total non-believer since the age of 4, I did not mind Tim’s religious evangelism because he largely kept that out of his party voting record and no leader is going to be perfect. I cannot say the same about the faceless wonders who ghost around Great George Street and Westminster and whose undermining of Tim ‘from the get go’ contributed so heavily both to the poorer-than-it-needed-to-be General Election result and to the manner of Tim’s leaving the leader position. Thankfully (especially for the people of Westmoreland & Lonsdale) Tim is still with us.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Aug '17 - 10:57am

    Katharine says things to encourage unity ,Mathew Huntbach comes back with no comment yet the same personal attack on me which he thinks under these circumstances is a defence of Tim.

    Tim Farron is a well paid well liked politician who had his chance and still does to in public convey his views.

    I do not need to defend someone I like , I praise and support on his personal religious views which I respect and do not share.

    I shall not be insulted by people on this site anymore.

    Comments like , “accuse “, “any decent Christian or Liberal ”

    Enough.

    Katharine it is I thinking of not bothering with this party anymore.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Aug '17 - 2:53pm

    Lorenzo Cherin

    I thought you had agreed with me on the unfair treatment of Tim Farron, but when you made a comment suggesting that he was a Biblical literalist, it did seem to me to be joining in with the unfair assumptions that were made about him.

    I gave the example to explain this. I am a Catholic, and certainly not a Biblical literalist. Yet I can see if I were in Tim Farron’s position I’d be in exactly the same dilemma. If I were questioned on my exact personal position on these issues, I’d feel uncomfortable just denying what is the Church’s official position, and I’d be inclined at least to go into some sort of explanation of it, which would include making it clear that it is not just a case of “Because the Bible says so”. That is what I am like: I like to understand both sides of any issue, and have any inclination to explain some point of view, even if it is not exactly mine, if I feel it is not understood by many others. That is an aspect of being a liberal.

    Yet as soon as that is done, as I said – BANG! It diverts attention from the actual political issues, and is used of accuse one of being some sort of extremist. This is just what you have done in your line about Tim Farron “literally interpreting the whole Bible”.

  • jayne Mansfield 4th Aug '17 - 3:31pm

    One has to be brave to be a politician given all the flak that one receives. Thanks to the internet, some of it venomous.

    Tim showed himself to be brave, particularly so, when he stood up for immigrants and asylum seekers, groups that some blame for every ill that has befallen this country. I admire him for that.

    Tim Farron can hold his head high. I hope that he continues to serve our country for many years, continuing to speak out loud and clear on the issues that he passionately believes in.

  • Helen Tedcastle 4th Aug '17 - 3:59pm

    Lorenzo Cherin
    ” Well mentioned and too often ignored are the aspects of religion , and here especially Judeo -Christian, in there adherence to books, written by many hands , thought by only few to be the hands of God.”

    Christianity isn’t a religion of a book. It is a religion centered on a person: Jesus Christ. Christians try to model their lives and behaviour on him. As human beings, they often fail.

    Tim Farron is not a biblical literalist in the sense you appear to imply ie: that he is unable to interpret it and apply it in the context of today’s society. Rather the opposite is the case, it seems to me. Taking the Bible in its plain sense, and reflecting on what it means as applied in society today, seems to me to be a reasonable approach.

    For instance, there are many references in biblical literature to the duty of fair treatment and concern for refugees. No one surely could argue that Tim has not taken that concern very seriously, and applied it to the contemporary crisis. It stems from biblical faith and his identity as a Christian but few of his critics refer to this, because it doesn’t fit their narrative.

  • “It stems from biblical faith and his identity as a Christian but few of his critics refer to this, because it doesn’t fit their narrative.”

    Perhaps his concern for the plight of people in desperate circumstances, such as refugees, simply stems from him being a decent human being, as most of us surely are. Even people of no faith.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Aug '17 - 5:59pm

    Well said, it seems to me, Tony Dawson and Ian Sanderson. Matthew and Helen, it’s great to read your comments here, as it was on the long thread I started, and I also appreciate your further explanation of your views, Matthew. Lorenzo, please hang on in here with us, LDV would not be as good without you. Everyone knows both your a-bit-left-of-centre views, that you like, praise and support Tim, and are friendly to all, and this argument is really not significant. As a dear old friend of mine used to say, ‘In the long reaches of eternity…! ‘ Sorry if I sound as if I am above the battle, because I really just want to say, ‘Peace be with you’ to our members of any faith or none – as I feel sure Tim would repeat.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Aug '17 - 7:07pm

    Katharine

    It is your approach that helps, other types of response bother me , as I put too much thought , into things.

    Helen, I add , as with Mathew, I have read several things give me this impression of Tim in his belief in the bible.

    I do not know, nor hold it against him.

    I would like some to feel the same towards me for reading the Times and Pink news on the subject and coming to this view or understanding.

  • Helen Tedcastle 5th Aug '17 - 4:09pm

    Phyllis
    ” Perhaps his concern for the plight of people in desperate circumstances, such as refugees, simply stems from him being a decent human being, as most of us surely are.”

    No doubt some people without any strong identity or strong values do motivate themselves to take action in solidarity with refugees, as Tim has done. Most people however, do not. They read about refugees online, feel sorry for them or not, then move on. Some vote leave.

  • Helen if we are talking about people “with strong identity and strong values”, then I agree with you that such people are more likely to help those less fortunate than themselves. I do not believe it has anything to do with religious faith, quite frankly. I am absolutely certain that if Tim were an atheist, he would still have behaved in exactly the same way. The aid workers who help refugees day in, day out, are from all different backgrounds, believers and non-believers.

  • Helen Tedcastle 6th Aug '17 - 1:33pm

    ” The aid workers who help refugees day in, day out, are from all different backgrounds, believers and non-believers.”

    No doubt. it doesn’t detract from the original comment which appears to have prompted this exchange, that Tim’s values and identity are rooted in his Christian faith. This does not preclude other people with similarly strongly held values and identities, perhaps religious or political, from acting likewise. It does however preclude the indifferent or apathetic ie: those who have no real priorities or fixed values but who drift from one opinion to the next without coherence, and who see every dilemma through the prism of moral relativism ie: every value and belief is equal to every other.

    Those few politicians who do prioritise the plight of refugees above other issues have normally done so out of conviction, because the plight of the helpless is a collective, humanitarian concern. Not everyone sees it that way, because it isn’t just a matter of being decent but standing up and being counted, often against the cultural grain or zeitgeist.

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