A farewell from Tim Farron as party president

So, it’s a matter of days now before I hang up my boots and pass on the baton to our new president (its important to mix your metaphors at a time like this!). I want to congratulate my friend and colleague Sal Brinton as she takes on the Party Presidency on 1 January and to wish her every success in the role. Sal will be an outstanding President, over the last four years she has been a regular source of wisdom and support to me – and I hope I can return the favour when she takes over.

I also want to pay tribute to both Liz Lynne and Daisy Cooper. They have both ran exciting campaigns which helped to energise the party and raise important challenges.

Before I disappear into a haze of eggnog and plum pudding, I want to grab the opportunity to say few quick thankyous. Thankyou to Chris White and Susan Gaszczak without whom I would never have won the presidency in the first place. Thankyou to Ali Goldsworthy for being an outstanding Vice Chair of Federal Executive for most of my time as President and to Peter Ellis who stepped into the role in recent months. Thankyou to Kiran Horwich and Christine Longworth who have been my aides, and to Kate Creagh, Rachael Clarke and Ashley Day who have made FE work so much more efficiently! I also want to thank Federal Executive and all the HQ staff for their hard work and perseverance. My team in Kendal and in London continue to demonstrate levels of hard work, inspiration, tolerance and loyalty that are of Olympic standards and humble me immensely. Thanks to all of you.

Over the last four years we have made so many positive changes to the infrastructure of the party. A new Chief Executive, a new HQ, the Connect IT system, better training, more donations and our party being in a better financial position. We are also working incredibly hard to learn the lessons of the Morrissey report and make sure that we change the culture and practices of our party so that we reflect fully the society we seek to represent.
But there are two things, that I just want to pick out that we should be incredibly proud of:

Firstly paid internships in HQ. This is something close to my heart, as someone from a pretty humble background myself, I have always thought that while politics is about changing the world for the better, nevertheless it seems that getting into politics is still dependent on who you know and whether you have had the right privileges. So I am proud that our party has created a paid internships scheme to allow people to be employed on merit and not relying on the bank of mum and dad, or who is in your contacts book.

Second I am proud to say that our membership has grown! There have been many promises to increase our membership over the last twenty years, but outside of general election times that has never happened. Thanks to our outstanding team at HQ led by Austin Rathe who have created the financial incentives and the culture to drive up our membership, we have become the first UK governing party in a generation to see our membership rise!

We need to look further at increasing our membership, doing it by inspiring the millions who share our values to put their money where their mouths are and join our cause. We must also take active steps to reaching to BAME communities to bring in new members that will transform the dynamic and the diversity of our movement.

The question I’ve been asked a lot in the last few days is ‘what are you going to do next?’ My answer is that I plan to get out there and be a loyal foot soldier and knock on a lot of doors, to support our activists and candidates across the country. I have a plan to visit dozens of constituencies from the Highlands to Cornwall and all parts in between over the coming weeks.

I will also keep talking about some of the issues I have during my Presidency – the need for an ambitious infrastructure revolution, new homes, being stridently pro-immigration, supporting a living wage and rebuilding a Liberal political consensus modelled on the boldness of Beveridge.

Finally I want to thank you. I want to thank you if you supported me, voted for me, tweeted or emailed me, given me advice or support or let me know your concerns. I am proud of our work over the last four years and I hope you will support Sal as much as you did me.

As someone who joined the party at 16, you gave me the honour of being our party’s President. I hope that my actions and words this last four years have done justice to that honour.

Now let’s get out there and win some elections!

* Tim Farron is Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Agriculture and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.

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12 Comments

  • Andrew Emmerson 19th Dec '14 - 9:12am

    We may not always have agreed, and you may have had to listen to me moan at you more than once, but i for one will testify that the party is better for the work and the reforms you’ve completed.

    So a massive thank you, and break a leg for 2015

  • You’ve been an excellent party president.

  • It must be heartbreaking for Tim to leave the job with the party in the state it is in.

  • Dave Warren 19th Dec '14 - 9:30am

    Well done Tim!

  • Eddie Sammon 19th Dec '14 - 9:34am

    Stridently pro “free movement”, Tim, not “immigration”. 😉

    I’m an ex member, but I think you’ve done a good job.

  • I suppose the by election in Kingston on Thames yesterday was encouraging and suggest we could hold the seat in May.
    Seems we squeezed Labour , Greens and UKIP. Nothing like spreading it about!!!
    One of our Rorkes Drift seats holds on!!!.

  • Patrick Murray 19th Dec '14 - 10:50am

    Thanks Tim, you have been an utterly brilliant president. Coalition has not been easy, but you’ve kept the flag of liberalism flying, in particular showing much needed leadership on issues such as immigration and housing.

  • Well done Tim! Best president we have ever had.

    Really nice to see him mention his staff! I have had a lot of contact with Christine in his office (when organizing a visit) and she was v professional.

  • Particularly pleased to see the thanks to Alison Goldsworthy. Such a loss she has been to the party.

  • @PBBrown
    I am sure Tim is not heartbroken, but aware of the difficulties we are in and obviously ready to fight back.

    His recent speeches suggest we can regain our rightful public image and rework our activities based on our ideals and not just on what we have achieved in Coalition. I am very grateful for what Tim has done. In particular, that while he has been careful to keep the party as united as possible, he has stuck to his principles and been just about the most honest of our MPs. His recent speeches have given me a sense of a turning point that could lead us to the future; meanwhile we have to campaign to win support for Liberal values and hold on to as many seats as possible.

  • richard boyd 20th Dec '14 - 7:24pm

    Lik e you, I joined the Liberal Party when I was 16, and next year I shall be 70. The changes, since 1962 have been
    something to be proud of, and overshadow the mistakes and occasional cock-ups. You reflected the old ” feet n the ground/pavement politics/ real world experience “that made our party real and respected. I listened to your speech
    at the NLC when we celebrated anniversary of the Lubbock vito

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