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+++BREAKING: Tim Farron resigns

Tim Farron has stepped down as Liberal Democrat leader. In a searing speech, he said:

The text is below:

This last two years have seen the Liberal Democrats recover since the devastation of the 2015 election.

That recovery was never inevitable but we have seen the doubling of our party membership, growth in council elections, our first parliamentary by-election win for more than a decade, and most recently our growth at the 2017 general election.

Most importantly the Liberal Democrats have established ourselves with a significant and distinctive role – passionate about Europe, free trade, strong well-funded public services underpinned by a growing market economy.

No one else occupies that space.  Against all the odds, the Liberal Democrats matter again.

We can be proud of the progress we have made together, although there is much more we need to do.

From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith.  I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience.  Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.

At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again – asked about matters to do with my faith.  I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.

Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit.  The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.

A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.

To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.

I’m a liberal to my finger tips, and that liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me.

There are Christians in politics who take the view that they should impose the tenets of faith on society, but I have not taken that approach because I disagree with it – it’s not liberal and it is counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel.

Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in.

In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.

That’s why I have chosen to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

I intend to serve until the parliamentary recess begins next month, at which point there will be a leadership election according to the party’s rules.

This is a historic time in British politics. What happens in the next months and years will shape our country for generations.

My successor will inherit a party that is needed now more than ever before. Our future as an open, tolerant and united country is at stake.

The cause of British liberalism has never been needed more. People who will fight for a Britain that is confident, generous and compassionate are needed more than ever before.

That is the challenge our party and my successor faces and the opportunity I am certain that they will rise to.

I want to say one more thing: I joined our party when I was 16, it is in my blood, I love our history, our people, I thoroughly love my party.

Imagine how proud I am to lead this party.  And then imagine what would lead me to voluntarily relinquish that honour.

In the words of Isaac Watts it would have to be something ‘so amazing, so divine, (it) demands my heart, my life, my all’.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 344 Comments

Willie, Christine and Jo celebrate Scottish Lib Dem wins

I could cheerfully have swung for Willie Rennie on Friday afternoon when he suggested an event on Sunday morning to celebrate our 4 Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs. I mean, it’s the first Sunday morning in 7 weeks most  of us could have had a lie-in. I thought nobody would want to go and it would be a disaster.

I was wrong. It was well-attended, there were broadcast and print journalists there and the atmosphere was great. There are, however,  two very important lessons to learn from the event, but more of that later. A huge crowd of people turned up at Jo Swinson’s campaign office in Milngavie. One person brought his two gorgeous and friendly  dogs, Caleb and Bella, who looked resplendent in their Jo Swinson rosettes.

Christine Jardine and Alex Cole-Hamilton came across from Edinburgh to join in the celebrations. Christine used to live in Bearsden and told how it was Jo who had inspired her to get involved in politics and stand for Parliament.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 18 Comments

Farron: We must challenge the Conservative orthodoxy that is tearing this country apart

Tim Farron gave a speech in response to the election result at the National Liberal Club this morning. You can watch a little bit here:

This was the hardest of elections, marred by the tragedy of those vile terrorist attacks in Manchester and in London.

And now the future of our country is less certain than it was when Theresa May called this election a month and a half ago.

For the Liberal Democrats, we have made progress in incredibly difficult circumstances and we face the new parliament in a far stronger position than we left the last one.

I am delighted to welcome back some old friends. In Jo Swinson, Vince Cable and Ed Davey we are bolstering our ranks with big figures who have served our country in government and will now be able to put their talent and experience to shaping what comes next. In Stephen Lloyd we welcome back a force of nature – a brilliant campaigner and loyal servant to his constituents.

Alongside Alistair Carmichael, Norman Lamb and Tom Brake, they are returning to a formidable team.

And I am also incredibly proud to welcome new faces to our ranks. Christine Jardine, Wera Hobhouse, Layla Moran and Jamie Stone are all fantastic campaigners who will be outstanding MPs for their constituents and our country.

I am especially proud that our parliamentary party is not only bigger but more diverse. After the 2015 election we were reduced to just eight seats – and all eight were white men. We are not yet at the point where our party fully reflects the diversity of our great country, but we have made real progress.

But while we have made great gains, we have also lost colleagues who will be very sorely missed.

History will be kind to Nick

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 32 Comments

Tim Farron’s final rally speech: Lib Dems will stop a bad Brexit deal, public service cuts and the Dementia Tax

Tim Farron ends his tour of target seats in Oxford on Wednesday night. This is part of his final pitch for votes at a rally there:

This election is only taking place because Theresa May is taking you for granted. She wants a blank cheque to do as she pleases and expects you to just hand it to her, even if what she proposes to do is as awful as the dementia tax, no questions asked. And as if to prove the point she has spent every day since she called the election trying to avoid answering any questions.

The Tories are heartless – but they have also shown themselves to be hapless.Look at the Dementia Tax, their NHS and schools cuts, or their cuts to the police that have made us less safe. They can’t even write a manifesto they can stand by, yet they want you to trust them with the biggest negotiations this country has ever done.

Have no doubt, Theresa May will get us a bad Brexit deal – and I mean dementia tax bad. That’s why I believe you should have the final say over the deal. Not Theresa May, not the politicians, you. And if you don’t like the deal you’re being offered, you should be able to reject it and choose to remain.

Remember – every vote for the Conservatives is a vote for the dementia tax, NHS cuts, sacked teachers and a bad Brexit deal. If that’s what you want, go for it. If it isn’t, then don’t write Theresa May a blank cheque.

If you are a Conservative supporter but those things worry you, then don’t do it. Vote for someone who will stand up for you and your family instead.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

Bob Geldof: Lib Dems are the only party with the balls to oppose Brexit

Bob Geldof entered the campaign today with a robust announcement of support for the Lib Dems. He helped us win Richmond Park in December. Here’s hoping that his influence can help us to a good result in our key seats on Thursday.

Here’s what he had to say:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 24 Comments

WATCH: Nick Clegg on why a “self destructive” hard brexit is so damaging for our economy and security

Nick Clegg has given a big speech on Brexit this morning. You can watch it here.

The highlights:

  • May and Corbyn’s conspiracy of silence as they pursue the hardest of Brexits – the politics of evasion and fantasy
  • The cost of leaving the single market and customs union
  • How the poorest will be most adversely affected by a hard Brexit while the rich will be relatively insulated
  • May will think she has a mandate if she gets a majority on Thursday but there are still so many unknowns
  • There is a chance to avoid all this – by electing Lib Dem MPs who will fight for our place in the single market and for a final say on the deal.

The full text is below:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 61 Comments

Why I’ve always gone to help in target seats

This is the 9th General Election in which I’ve been politically active. Let’s not think about how old that makes me! You can also add 4 Holyrood elections to that. I missed out on the first one because I was living in England and just about to give birth. That didn’t stop me running a committee room in Chesterfield on polling day, though. Nor did it stop me doing stuff for the Newark by-election that never was.

I’ve just been reflecting on all these campaigns and maybe I should write about each one individually at some point.

In each election, I have made sure that my effort is concentrated on target seats, even if that has meant travelling on a daily basis. The reason for that is that I’ve always been very aware that I know that what matters the day after polling day is the number of bums we have on seats in whatever legislature we’re in. I could not have it on my conscience to lose a key target by a few hundred votes while I’d concentrated on getting single figures in percentage terms in my home seat. Believe me I have seen that happen several times.

Building that momentum throughout the campaign needs extra help. I will be forever grateful to the wonderful people from across the East Midlands region who travelled several times a week to Chesterfield in 1997, or the Lothian people who travelled to help us in Edinburgh South in 2001 and 2005. Martin Garnett, who’s our candidate in Erewash again today, was part of that Chesterfield support team in 1997.

That help from outside ensures that can establish ourselves as the challenger, that we can out-campaign the opposition and put ourselves in a winning position. It means that we can talk to more voters and build that all-important impression of a growing campaign. Every single day of the campaign, extra people are needed to boost local capacity and sow the seeds of victory.

I would go as far as to say that if you are spending the majority of your campaigning time in a seat that is not a target, you are actually doing the party more harm than good.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 21 Comments
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