LibLink: Tim Farron – A party of both competence and compassion is in a unique position in British politics

Tim Farron speaking - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsIn today’s Observer, party president Tim Farron begins the year in chipper mood, pointing out that the political pundits are quick to predict the deaths of political parties, including the Lib Dems — yet we’ve endured it all to become now a party of government:

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s landslide, after which serious political commentators, including those writing for the Observer, speculated that Labour could never win again.

In March, we will observe the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, an illegal act by the Labour government, which was supported by the then Conservative opposition. The Tories managed to combine extremism with irrelevance; they subsequently found themselves in third place in the polls, written off by most pundits as incapable of ever governing again.

We will also mark the 25th anniversary of the acrimonious merger of the Liberals and the SDP, which formed the Liberal Democrats. After the chaos of the merger process, the Liberal Democrats were dismissed as doomed by anyone who knew anything about politics, especially after a poll in the Observer recorded a historic 0% for the Lib Dems.

The Liberal Democrats of today are subject to similar apocalyptic predictions. Those who foresee our demise are just as likely to be proved wrong as those who wrote off Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems in the past.

And it’s clear he got the memo stressing how Lib Dems are anchoring the government in the centre ground, ‘that only the Lib Dems can build a strong economy and a fairer society’. Here’s how Tim couches it:

After 65 years in the wilderness, the Liberal Democrats found themselves in government at just the right time for the UK. Our economy was on life support and our society increasingly unfair. In coalition, the Liberal Democrats have focused on rescuing the economy from meltdown, while ensuring that our recovery is fair. Our flagship achievement of cutting income tax for ordinary people by raising the threshold at which you start paying income tax has both boosted spending in the economy and made our country fairer. A party with a platform of demonstrating both competence and compassion is in a unique position in British politics.

You can read Tim Farron’s piece in full here.

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in LibLink.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/32516 for Twitter and emails.

14 Comments

  • “And it’s clear he got the memo stressing how Lib Dems are anchoring the government in the centre ground, ‘that only the Lib Dems can build a strong economy and a fairer society’. Here’s how Tim couches it:”

    Seems fairly clear that he hasn’t got the memo to me – he uses virtually none of the language and figures that are in the message doc and which are presumably what has been researched as being more effective than presenting it in other ways.

  • I am not sure the electorate would agree with you Tim Farron. Especially with both competence and compassion.

    According to the latest yougov poll http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/5tdopkoktm/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-04-060113.pdf

    1) Which of the main political parties do you trust the most on the issue of welfare benefits? {Liberal Democrats polled just 6%) so failing on compassion there it would seem

    2) Which of the main political parties do you trust the most on the issue of the NHS? (Liberal Democrats polled just 4%) So failing miserably on both competence and compassion there

  • Maggie Smith 6th Jan '13 - 1:27pm

    Compassion? Oh Dear, I don’t see it being very compassionate come April when council tax changes will result in vast numbers of people having their help reduced or their housing benefit altered because they have a “spare” room. Homelessness is on the increase and so is the use of food banks. Very compassionate.

    Write the Libdems off at our peril? Honestly, you should try being on the receiving end of some of this compassion, peril? Try genuine fear for your home and future.

    But I guess it’s ok, a few quid saved in tax allowance , oh except that the really low paid or vulnerable didn’t benefit from the “plus” side of the equation, they just pay more VAT (Cue the “they don’t need the luxury of things that they pay VAT on”, Like the long winded distraction of TVs in the benefits thread) and face a real terms cut in their allowances.

    However you spin it and I’m sorry Mr Farron has stooped to this, however you spin it it is an ongoing nightmare for the low paid and vulnerable and it’s simply no good trying to slice yourselves off from the consequences of government policy when your party make up part of that very same government.

  • It’s clear the powers that be are still trying to positively sing their way out of the difficulties. Of course, the 1980s Labour Party didn’t die, or the John Major Tories. No-one is (I think) seriously saying that the Lib dems are on the point of death. However, the Leader and other voices from the leadership group are trying to change the fundamental support base of the party and have moved policy significantly to the right. Insofar as they have already achieved that, it is very likely that we are returning to the Liberal Party of the 1950s (a 5% vote, and very few Mps elected in total, mostly by local agreements that Tories won’t stand). This is ultimately unsustainable, as Jo Grimond realised at the time, and was only revived by a radical rallying cry, from which it took another 15 – 20 years (1974) to show that we could operate as a national, radical party again, and around 40 years to make a significant breakthrough (1997). I am not sure we can avoid that outcome now, but we will certainly not if we don’t make rapid and wholesale changes.

    Elements of the positive song that the powers that be and their supporters are singing are around the recent (last 3 months) performance in Council byelections, which looks on the face of it, very positive. However, two cautionary notes, one is that there is very little connection between one-off local elections and the national standing of the party. One-off locals will have much more of a local issue input, because they are not associated with heavy media propaganda and national input. Large scale May elections (eg Counties and Unitaries this May) are much more influenced by national conditions, media commentary and opinion etc. The other caution is that several of the elections recently have given a rather false assessment of Lib Dem progress, where defections had taken place, where wins were by very small amounts, where unexpected losses had taken place in the ward, and often where other seats in the same ward are held by Lib Dems. So, the Paul Barkers of this world shouldn’t go off immediately thinking that all in the garden is now rosy!

  • Nick (not Clegg) 6th Jan '13 - 2:32pm

    A party … demonstrating both competence and compassion WOULD OCCUPY a unique position in British politics.

    What a pity that there isn’t one.

  • but surely compassion isn’t just about spending (other people’s) money?

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Jan '13 - 11:01pm

    Why is Tim Farron always put forward as one of (sometimes “the leading”) Liberal Democrat left-winger, when judging from this (and most else of what he says) he’s a paid-up member of the Liberal Democrat right-wing tendency? I don’t mean this entirely as a rhetorical question.

  • Slightly off-topic I admit, but can anyone explain what would happen if Lib Dem MPs vote against Tory plans? I appreciate the minority position and all, but what would be the effect if they all voted against a bill the Tories put forward? Assuming the bill then doesn’t go through, what is the effect on Parliament etc. after that? I’m genuinely asking, as i’m not a political scholar and am sure there’s complications that the press don’t cover.

  • Simon: what would be the effect if they all voted against a bill the Tories put forward

    The Tories would not put forward a bill unless the Quad had agreed it already and Nick Clegg had agreed to deliver the votes of his MPs. That situation has come up with the Boundaries Bill where Clegg has refused to support it so now in all likelihood the Bill will never come before Parliament. I think I am right on that but please someone correct me if I am wrong.

  • Simon: Assuming the bill then doesn’t go through, what is the effect on Parliament etc. after that?

    Well I guess we have seen that in reverse with the Lords Reform Bill where Tory backbenchers refused to vote for a govt bill. The effect I guess is to de-stabilise the Coalition by making tit for tat reprisals necessary. If the frontbench Lib Dems all voted against a. Govt bill, having previously agreed it in the Quad, then they would be accused of being untrustworthy and Cameron would be under pressure to sack the Lib Dem front benchers. Of course he couldn’t do that without destroying the Coalition so there would have to be some face-saving ‘spin’.

  • @ Phyllis,

    Thanks for that!

  • When Nick Clegg was elected Leader his ambition was to increase the number of MPs to 150. We are now down to 57 though we did acquire one in Chippenham for the first time in 80 years. No doubt being so cheerful is what keeps Tim Farron going. – that and living in the Lake District. Sadly his optimism is misplaced. We need another Charles Kennedy to bring some sense back to the party leadership.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 7th Jan '13 - 12:40pm

    @ john mc “but surely compassion isn’t just about spending (other people’s) money?”

    Did anyone suggest that it was?

    Would you now like also to offer us a non-definition of “competence”?

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Jan '13 - 11:27pm

    Simon

    Slightly off-topic I admit, but can anyone explain what would happen if Lib Dem MPs vote against Tory plans? I appreciate the minority position and all, but what would be the effect if they all voted against a bill the Tories put forward?

    Probably like in the late 1970s – a few billions would be thrown at Northern Ireland in an attempt to keep the Ulster Unionist MPs voting for the government. After all, they’re not going to lose their seats (no Ulster Protestant is going to say “Nasty dirty DUP for propping up the Tories, I’m voting SF next time”), and much of the government’s policies don’t apply in Northern Ireland anyway.

    There’d be big wobbles on the financial markets, to which the Tories would say “There you go, blame the LibDems for that”. And Labour would join in saying “Yes, get rid of the LibDems, so we don’t go through all this again”.

    The LibDems would obviously then be challenged by Labour to support a “No Confidence” motion. But the Tories could get in first and put a motion for an early general election – needs a two-thirds support under the Fixed Parliament Act, but Labour would look silly opposing it. Whatever, the LibDems would get slaughtered in the ensuing general election.

    It is the only card the Liberal Democrats really have to play, but it’s obvious it will never be played while Clegg remains leader.For the LibDems to get rid of Clegg and ask their new leader to play it is a big call. I doubt it will happen so long as the rest of the country takes the line on the LibDems “We don’t care what you say or do, we’ll never vote for you again”. As I keep saying, anyone who WANTS the LibDems to do this really needs to think it through and give us some encouraging words that might make us think there’d be life after doing it.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?




Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 24th Oct - 9:22pm
    I still haven't got across how passionately I feel about this. If we don't fight: we lose. If we fight half hearted: we draw. So...
  • User AvatarGeoff Crocker 24th Oct - 9:10pm
    It's a very noble aim. The question is how we are going to get there? Currently 40% of our power is generated from coal, of...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 24th Oct - 9:08pm
    Thanks ATF, I just think radical muslims should try to set up their caliphate democratically and tolerance is the wrong thing to prioritise when people...
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 24th Oct - 9:04pm
    Eddie Sammon Articles written in the first person singular are not necessarily the most objective. Read these other reports of the same news story and...
  • User AvatarPeter 24th Oct - 9:02pm
    Completely insane.
  • User AvatarDean.W. 24th Oct - 9:02pm
    @Caron - This is a teaching household ,34 years in the job and counting.I can assure you there's no incredulity here,no "LD's are looking desperate."...