Tag Archives: tim farron

In Full: Tim Farron’s speech to Conference

All former leaders get a keynote speech at the first Conference after they step down. Tim Farron’s was, as you would expect, loud, funny in parts, optimistic, loyal and ended by giving the party a serious mission.

There was a lot of love in the room for that man.

“I was at Euston the other day and a lady came up to me, half my size but still somehow able to look down her nose at me.

“She said ‘well, I’m not surprised you stepped down! Never trust a man who wears doctor marten shoes!’

“If only we’d known. I’d have worn the boots instead, cherry red with yellow laces up to my knees. And that would be the only thing I’d change.

“I’m not giving up, so this wont be a giving up speech. And I’m not retiring,

“I mean I turned down celebrity Dancing on Ice!

“Because Lembit Opik is a friend. Not a blueprint.

“Look, I’m not going to give you a long list of advice – I’m not Paddy.

“Just one bit of advice really, it’s this:

“If you have joined this party as a fast track to a career in politics, then your careers officer wants sacking.

“This is not the place if you want an easy life. It is the place to be if you want to make a difference.

“31 years ago I joined the Liberals.

“Like the rest of you I chose the tough route in politics, I chose that tough route knowingly.

“Any old mediocrity can join labour or the tories, hold office, be someone for a bit, but do exactly the same as any other careerist would have done.

“But I also know you can only make a difference if you are brave enough to be different.

“When I first got elected, getting lost on the parliamentary estate was pretty much a daily event. Its like going to big school for the first time. One night Greg Mulholland and I were trying to find our way out of parliament, and we got lost, its just possible that we might have had a pint.

“Anyway, we wandered into the house of lords lobby by mistake and Greg whispered to me ‘I think we’re in the wrong place’ to which the policeman on the door responded ‘not in the wrong place sirs, just 30 years too early.

“Which tells you something about how folks see the comfortable trajectory of the career politician.

“Anyhow, about a week later I decided to join year 6 of Dean Gibson Primary School from Kendal on their tour around parliament. Everything I know about what’s where in parliament I got from that guided tour.

“As the tour progressed we ended up again in the House of Lords lobby, and I got distracted by Geoffrey Howe moving rather slowly out of the chamber and into the lobby.

“I don’t mind telling you, I was rather star struck, I mean he was chancellor of the exchequer when I was at school!

“One of the kids saw who I was looking at, and she said ‘who is he?’ and I said ‘that’s Geoffrey Howe, he brought down Margaret Thatcher’ and she said, ‘who’s Margaret Thatcher?’

“Which goes to show that, you know, there is some justice.

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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.

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What should Liberal Democrats expect of our leaders?

 

Members are sovereign in the Liberal Democrat party. Members will be consulted on the overall party strategy at the next Federal Conference, prior to a motion being passed. Yet the party leader is expected, both by the membership and by the country, somehow to embody the image of the party. He or she is identified with its perceived success or failure by the media, regardless of how much control they may actually have had.

So what do we members think the first duty of the Liberal Democrat leader should be?

Surely he must show in outlining his political priorities that he is true to the party’s principles and values. This Tim Farron did, when elected in 2015. He said, for example,

We see people as individuals. The Liberal mission is to help us to be the best we can be. Standing up for the individual is not what we do – it’s what we are.

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Two months with the Lib Dems

 

Two months ago today I joined the Liberal Democrats amongst the peak of political campaigning for the general election (the first in which I was able to vote). Before this year I had seen myself as someone more on the right when it came to business and the economy but also felt strongly in favour of civil liberties.

As someone who has grown up in a Conservative stronghold in the South, and only really came to better understand politics under the Coalition government, I had always seen the Tories as the better choice out of the two major parties. Until the referendum last year, I was probably well on the route to putting a cross in the box next to Conservatives, not out of total agreement with Tory policies but seeing it as the lesser of two evils. When I found out the result of the referendum early the next morning, followed quickly by the news of David Cameron’s resignation, after the initial anger, confusion and disbelief, it left me reflecting on my own political stand point.

It emerged Theresa May would take over as Conservative leader several weeks later and earlier this year a general election was called for June. In the time from the Brexit result to the election being called, I found myself unable to be supportive of the Conservatives who had done nothing but shift rightwards on the political spectrum and witnessed a Labour party move much closer to its socialist roots. I was left unsatisfied with what the two major parties were offering, and so I looked elsewhere for inspiration.

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Cheers, Tim

I have to say I’m feeling sad tonight. Two Summers ago, I worked hard to elect Tim Farron as our leader. I’d hoped he’d be there for one if not two Parliaments, at least a decade. I felt  that the party needed his Tiggerish energy and passion even if his 100,000 members target scared me slightly.

Tim inspired us to pick ourselves up, raise our eyes and fight. He took on the fight for the most vulnerable, speaking up for the thousands of refugees fleeing war in Syria. He made it his mission to present a coherent case for unaccompanied children to come to this country, even trying to enact it into law. I was never prouder of him than when he was the first party leader to head to Calais and Lesvos.

Tim was not one to always make life easy for himself, as we saw from the Syria vote. He was prepared to risk upsetting his core support on the left of the party. Nor did he shy away from the battles we needed to have. On diversity, he was prepared to lead from the front, supporting the Electing Diverse MPs motion which was passed in York in 2016.

His leadership was a whirlwind of campaigning at all levels around the country. He went to Council by-elections to the winning Richmond Park parliamentary by-election. He was brilliant in the Scottish and Welsh elections last year.

He was proactive in the fight for LGBT equality, arguing for an end to the gay blood ban and for transgender rights. What a signal it sent to young people struggling with their gender identity to have a major political leader sitting in the front row supporting a motion on transgender rights.

And on that “sin” issue, I wrote the first time it came up that I didn’t think that politicians should be pontificating about any sort of sin:

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Tim’s best bits #5: Campaigning in Edinburgh West in the General Election

At the beginning of the election campaign this year, Tim came to Edinburgh West one sunny Monday evening. He spoke brilliantly with a message that at that point in the campaign was just bang on. This is Tim at his best.

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Tim’s best bits #4: Going to Calais

At midnight tonight, Tim Farron hands the mantle of Liberal Democrat Leadership to Vince Cable. We are looking at some of the best bits of his two year and four days in charge. 

Less than 3 weeks after being elected leader, Tim Farron went to Calais to see the refugee crisis for himself.  As the humanitarian crisis worsened and the Tories ignored the dreadful suffering on our doorstep,, Tim, alone amongst UK wide party leaders, called for action. He was the first to go to Calais to see for himself what was going on.  Here’s how we brought you that news at the time.

For Tim Farron, the situation in Calais has always been primarily a humanitarian one. He was furious last week when David Cameron described the desperately vulnerable people there as a “swarm.” Most recently he asked Cameron to make sure that we were doing our fair share to end the “immeasurable suffering” of the people in Calais. He wrote:

I am sure you agree that it is heartbreaking to see hundreds of desperate people subsisting in makeshift camps night after night, willing to risk life and limb in the hope of a better future while many in Kent and across the country see their daily lives hugely disrupted through no fault of their own.

I welcome your commitment yesterday to providing France with the resources needed to deal with the situation and am writing to seek assurances that alongside the necessary security measures, support will also be given to humanely process those seeking asylum, return those who have no right to remain, and ensure that, in line with international obligations, standards of welfare and accommodation are urgently improved.

Today he went to Calais to see the situation on the ground for himself.

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