Author Archives: Tim Farron MP

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

Tim Farron MP writes… Why I’m standing for leader..to be the vigorous liberal voice Britain needs

As I’ve written in The Independent, last week’s election results still leave me feeling numb. The Liberal Democrats are not a political machine but a human family, made up of dear friends and colleagues, striving together in a common cause. Which is why the loss of so many excellent MPs, councillors and staff is not just a political catastrophe but also a personal heartbreak.

Liberalism and liberal values are under threat from a triumphalist Tory party in hock to its right wing and from the forces of nationalism and isolationism. No one can rely on a Labour ‘opposition’ who have never got it on civil liberties, immigration, Iraq or a new politics. Liberal Democrats need to pick ourselves up and lead the fight.

This will be a tough challenge, but liberals have done it before. We came back from near oblivion in the 1950s and ‘60s to challenge the Tory–Labour stranglehold on power, building on our local roots, fighting alongside local campaigners to make life better in a myriad of little ways for individuals and their communities. As an activist and councillor and MP I’ve been part of that endeavour all my political life.

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Tim Farron MP writes…The British people deserve more than Cameron’s weak leadership on EU

European FlagThis week marks David Cameron’s last European Council as Prime Minister before the General Election and let’s hope he avoids one last blunder. It is easy to forget, given the endless Tory arguments on Europe over the past five years, that in opposition David Cameron’s ambition was for the Conservative Party to “stop banging on about Europe”. This summarises Cameron’s position well – he is simply not interested and sees the EU purely as a party management issue. If the issue of Europe is quiet then it’s a good bet that Tory backbenchers will be too.

But this abdication of leadership has caused repeated humiliations for the Prime Minister and allowed the ranks of Tory backbenchers to drive the agenda, leaving their leader looking weak, lacking in ideas and clueless.

Constantly bullied from the back benches, Cameron has time and again stirred from his self-imposed slumber, woken up too late and then mistakenly “taken a stand” before being humiliated. Famously he “vetoed” a new EU treaty in December 2011 but the result was not the triumph he portrayed – the rest of the EU went ahead anyway and concluded the treaty without the UK, leaving a legacy of bitterness in its wake and representing a low point in British diplomacy.

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Tim Farron writes… Climate change must be the pressing issue for liberals

It is human nature that the immediate threats are those that grab our attention. More longer-term dangers – like climate change can appear to be – are harder to keep high on the agenda. Come another crisis, it too easily slips off. So it might seem strange, especially in the wake of recent events, to say that climate change is the biggest threat to Liberalism. This is what Duncan Brack, Neil Stockley and I argue in Centreforum’s publication of “The Challenges Facing Contemporary Liberalism: 2015 -2025,” published this week here:
centreforum.org/index.php/mainpublications/716-economic-liberalism-climate-change-green-growth

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Tim Farron writes… Never has the political market been so crowded in the UK. Never has there been more space for a Liberal Party.

I cannot start this article without expressing my deep shock and concern for the families affected by the attack on Charlie Hebdo. It is stark warning that we can no longer take for granted the liberal order which our predecessors fought for.

It is a great honour to be appointed Foreign Affairs spokesperson and I want to thank Nick for giving me this opportunity. I am very aware that it is rare for foreign affairs to be the defining issue for most voters. But this election, as in so many other ways, is not running the usual course.

UKIP has brought …

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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.

Posted in Party Presidency | 12 Comments

Tim Farron MP writes…Green Climate Fund shows this government is leading the world

We often forget to say thank you, because we’re straight on to the next thing. But today, I want to say thank you to everyone – from  our members, activists, staff, councillors, MPs and Peers to Ed Davey for the success we’ve seen as a party on the Green Climate Fund. Even if climate change doesn’t get your heart racing, if you want evidence that the Lib Dems in the Coalition are alive and kicking – look no further. Cameron’s “green crap” attitude hasn’t stopped us leading the world on climate change. We’ve got a lot more to do – but this is good news that should give us confidence.

Set up five years ago at the Copenhagen climate conference, the Green Climate Fund is designed – over time – to replace the spaghetti system of existing funds, and become the main channel for finance to help developing countries reduce emissions and protect themselves from dangerous climate change. It was one of the outcomes which saved the Copenhagen climate conference from complete failure.

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Tim Farron MP writes…We must continue to fight hard for fairer housing

In case you weren’t able to make it to Glasgow, here’s some good news from Conference. The hard work that many people in the party have done on housing is being recognised. Jules Birch, housing blogger, sums up our party’s policies on housing: ‘As so often before the Lib Dems look like going into the next election with the best housing policies.’

This is not an easy feat. Housing is a complex issue which spreads its effects throughout society. It runs all the way from the individual tragedies of homelessness, to structure of our economy and the psychology of homeownership. To sort out housing you need action on at least four fronts: land, finance, the home building industry and political leadership. So bringing in my own motion on housing, it was a real privilege to build on the work that the party has already done to address the whole spectrum of issues affected by poor housing policy. I want to thank everybody who contributed to our policy development, spoke in the debate and voted for it.

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Tim Farron: I want the Liberal Democrats to become the “gold standard” for the way voluntary organisations treat volunteers and staff

Since the allegations against Lord Rennard were first aired on Channel Four News, I’ve worked hard with members, activists, HQ staff and our parliamentary parties to fundamentally change the way our party treats these matters.

We asked Helena Morrissey to look at our party’s culture and practices and her report helped us to recognise our failings and set about correcting them.

We have changed our rules and codes of conduct at every level, from grassroots members to parliamentarians so that everyone involved in the party is aware of their rights and responsibilities. We have changed how complaints are reported and addressed, and …

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It’s Party awards time!

key_awards1It’s that time of year again when members decide who should be in line for an award at Conference.

It could be someone who has worked tirelessly in their local area to elect Liberal Democrats or implement our policies or someone who has given years to our cause by working hard as councillors or candidates.

Maybe a political assistant to a councillor or someone who has supported a local MP in the hard work that they do.

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Tim Farron MP writes…Tales from the Spin Room

Clegg Speech 40Last night I was in the spin room doing my job as President, walking around and saying Nick had won.  It wasn’t hard to appear convincing, because he was brilliant. It was certainly easier than when I have to speak to the media after some by-elections!

I thought Nick won last night on both style and substance. Though of course as a Lib Dem, I would say that.  As a party we like facts and evidence. Watching last night, those things were very light on the UKIP side of the …

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Tim Farron MP writes…No politician should be able to sleep at night while children don’t have access to primary school

Fifty years ago, Lyndon Johnson stood before a joint session of Congress and declared war. “It will not be a short or easy struggle,” he warned the lawmakers. “No single weapon nor strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won.” He was talking about a war on poverty – he was saying that a politician can change the world.  That through their words and deeds, they can make a difference and make the world a better place.

President Obama (Number 44 – LBJ was 36) stood up last Wednesday night and gave his annual State of …

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Tim Farron MP writes: Liberal Democrats must stand up against blanket internet surveillance

I regularly get asked “who are your Liberal Heroes?” and I’ll reel off a list of people like Beveridge, Penhaligon and Paddy Ashdown and usually the person who has asked the question nods and smiles. Then I will tell them that the person I most admire is Harry Willcock. That’s typically met with a look of bemusement! I got similar looks of bewilderment when I cited Harry in 2005 in one of my first speeches in the House of Commons when I opposed Labours ID cards bill…

But Harry is at the top of my list because he was the Liberal that helped stop ID Cards in …

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Tim Farron writes…Introducing our new Pastoral Care Officer

Tim and JeanneOne of the key recommendations set out in the Morrissey report was that the Party should seek to appoint a Pastoral Care Officer.

I am delighted to announce that Jeanne Tarrant has been appointed to take on this role.  Jeanne will start work with us on 2nd January.

Jeanne’s career has progressed through nursing, midwifery and into the trade union movement. She has been a practising Midwife since 1994, and at the Royal College of Midwives she was responsible for managing employment relations with Hospital trusts around England. Jeanne has also …

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Tim Farron writes… British businesses say we must stay in the EU. Let’s go out and make that case.

UKIP and the many Conservatives who say we should pull out of the EU might want to keep a low profile today. The CBI, which represents some 240,000 businesses up and down the country, has published a landmark report in support of Britain’s EU membership. It found that 8 out of 10 of its members would vote to remain part of the EU, including 77% of small businesses, and concluded that the overall benefits of EU membership massively outweigh the costs. In fact, each of us is thought to be around £1225 better off a year thanks to …

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Tim Farron writes… A liberal win on ‘Go Home’ vans

go home illegal immigrant posterSince I have been President I have worked hard to try and make sure members views are heard in the heart of government.  Banging on ministerial doors to try and make policy after policy better and more liberal.

Over the summer the ‘Go Home’ vans came onto our streets.  At the time I joined Sarah Teather and, oddly, Nigel Farage to oppose them. (Who says politics doesn’t give you strange bedfellows!)

My view was clear both then and now: The vans represented the worst kind of divisive politics and …

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Tim Farron MP writes… Helena Morrissey report update

The Helena Morrissey report was incredibly difficult reading for our party. Facing up to the reality that the party that I love and joined at 16 had not always lived out its values is painful. But throughout this process my top priorities have always been the people affected, getting to the truth, ensuring justice and making certain that we enact every single recommendation of Helena Morrissey’s report. That’s why I wanted to give you an update on the work we have done to put Helena Morrissey’s recommendations into practice.

Since the report was published, I have made efforts on …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 13 Comments

Holding out for a liberal hero

Every year at Conference I get the chance to thank the people in our Party that have given the most.

They’re people who have worked tirelessly in their local area to make sure liberal voices are heard – or people who have given years of time and support as councillors or council leaders.

They’re political assistants to council groups who support Lib Dems in local government with all the valuable work they do.

And they’re local parties who have worked to increase representation of ethnic minorities in everything they do.

This is your chance to let me know who we should be rewarding. Click here for an information pack.

You have until 31st July to get in touch and nominate a Party member you know has given a huge amount to the Party.

This is a great chance to make sure our ordinary members are recognised for all the fantastic work they have done for the Party. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Liberal Democrat Party Awards Pack 2013 by Liberal Democrat Voice

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Unpaid internships: Tim Farron replies

Two weeks ago we published an open letter to Tim Farron on the subject of unpaid internships. Here is his reply.

Dear Friends,

Firstly thank you for your letter and thank you for bearing with me while I was away for a few days with Rosie and the children. I wanted to make sure I gave you a proper reply rather than a few rushed lines.

In my meetings with Liberal Youth and the campaign group InternAware I was asked about the party and internships. I promised at the time that I would personally not employ people as unpaid interns. My staff …

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Tim Farron MP writes… This week could have been very different

Last weekend was the fifth anniversary of the day that Gordon Brown changed his mind at the last minute and didn’t call the widely anticipated 2007 autumn General Election. Given the remainder of his tenure it is easy for many of us to forget that following his succession to No. 10 Downing St, Gordon Brown did received a popularity bounce. Brown was 10% ahead in the polls, David Cameron was floundering following a difficult period as opposition leader, and of course the banking collapse of 2008 had not yet happened.

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Tim Farron writes: Being our party’s President is a wonderful honour for me

As I said in my speech to our conference in Brighton, wherever I go I find Liberal Democrats who are infinitely more upbeat, positive and determined than anyone in the media thinks we should be. We have every right to be upbeat.

Never have our Liberal Democrat voices and values been so important. Never have Liberal Democrat victories been so necessary. Britain needs the Liberal Democrats more than ever. I know that together we can do this. We can make Britain fairer, greener and more liberal.

As I watch Labour (or ‘blank page’ as I call them at the moment!) in Manchester, …

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Tim Farron MP writes… Paddy Ashdown new Liberal Democrat 2015 General Election campaign Chair

One of the main messages to come out of what has been an absolutely fantastic conference in Brighton, is that it is time to look forward, time to make the second half of this Parliament count, time to prepare for the 2015 election campaign.

Yesterday, Nick made an announcement that has shown the world just how serious we are about the fight to 2015 – he has appointed Paddy Ashdown to lead the General Election campaign team.

Now anyone who knows Paddy knows about his campaigning prowess. There is no one quite like him when it comes to an election. He is …

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Tim Farron MP writes… My thoughts on the Cabinet reshuffle

The first proper reshuffle for our party since the 1920s was always going to be a weird situation. I am extremely sad to see Sarah Teather, Nick Harvey, Paul Burstow and Andrew Stunell leave the government. Sarah’s work on the Pupil Premium will leave an outstanding legacy for the next generation, Andrew’s work on releasing empty homes to meet the needs of those in desperate circumstances will make the difference to thousands of people and Nick Harvey’s tenacity in ensuring that a like for like replacement for Trident is kicked off into the long grass has been a quite immense …

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Tim Farron MP writes… Pledge me 10!

I want you to make a pledge. Don’t worry; it’s got nothing to do with fees or abstinence from alcohol. I want you to make a pledge to do something you know you ought to be doing any way.

Will you pledge to recruit 10 people to join the Lib Dems this summer? They could be 10 completely new members, 10 lapsed members or a mixture. But I need you to make me that pledge today and to fulfil it before we get to our Brighton conference in September.

The most important thing to me is that our Party grows and thrives …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 13 Comments

Tim Farron MP writes… Exemptions to accreditation for Transgender colleagues

Liberal Democrat President Tim Farron MP writes to update members on the accreditation process for Autumn Conference:

Dear friends,

I am instinctively against accreditation. As a liberal, the whole notion unsettles me, although FCC and the FE have accepted FFAC’s advice that there is a serious financial threat to the Party if we were to disregard police advice.

I want to thank everyone for getting in touch in the last week to share their views on the accreditation issue. Whether it was via email or twitter, or even those who have commented on the Lib Dem Voice article (I did read all

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 63 Comments

Tim Farron MP writes… Send in your nominations for Party Awards 2012

Each year at Autumn Conference, the Party President presents three awards to party members who have gone above and beyond for the party for longer than most of us can remember. There are three awards available:

  • President’s Award – this is an award for those party members who have been elected to public office at one point or another – for those who have been councillors or council leaders; for ex-MPs and MEPs. It rewards members who have given an overwhelming amount of time, effort, and support to the Liberal Democrats, and was last year won by Doris Ansari who

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Tim Farron MP writes… The ASA and me – a response

I’m aware that my signing of a letter to the ASA about the power of prayer has caused a stir. I thought I should just clarify what I actually think on this.

I completely understand why some of you are concerned. It’s not a well-worded letter – the reference to the ASA providing indisputable evidence is silly, and the implication that people should seek faith healing at the expense of medical intervention is something that I just don’t believe in. For what it’s worth, I also think that the Fabrice Muamba reference is crass. So on all those fronts, I should just say sorry and not bother defending myself. I shouldn’t have signed that letter as it was written, so I apologise for putting some of you in quite a difficult position.

However, my reasons for agreeing to raise a concern with the ASA are simply these:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 51 Comments

Tim Farron MP writes… Equal Marriage consultation: take part and spread the word

One of our fundamental values as a party is our firm belief in equality. This is why I am member of our party and why I am so proud to be your President. We have always stood for individual liberty and the right to choose how we lead our lives. That’s why we came into being in the 19th century to protect the rights of religious minorities, it’s why we led the support for equality for women and why we decided before any other major party that civil marriage should be open to same-sex couples equally. The Liberal Democrats in …

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Tim Farron MP writes… Leap for victory

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Tim Farron MP writes… Are two Eds better than one?

Are 2 Eds better than one? I’m not sure – but the two Eds said something very interesting over the weekend: apparently they don’t have a ‘Plan B’ for the economy after all!

As I drove into the village of Haverthwaite on Saturday morning to do some residents’ surveying, I was preparing to turn the radio off and then Ed Balls popped up. I listened with amazement. In his interview he admitted not only that the programme of cuts being carried out by the Coalition government were right, but that Labour would not over turn them if they were in Government. Unfortunately however he didn’t go as far as to admit that the cause behind all the cuts – the dire economic situation – was in fact largely his fault.

You’ll have heard Simon Hughes and me over the weekend rightly calling on the two Eds to apologise. We want them to apologise to the British public for deceiving them for 18 months before finally admitting that what the Liberal Democrats have been doing in Government is broadly the right approach. However, there is one apology we didn’t call for publicly, but which they still should make – that’s an apology to you!

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Tim Farron’s Christmas message

Well that was quite a year, wasn’t it? It was a good one too!

I know, I know, after the referendum and the horrible results in May you’d be forgiven for believing we were sinking faster than Blackburn Rovers (how it pains me to write that), but you know what, it’s not true.

This year we did some amazing things, things you and I have wanted to do for years but never had the power to actually get done.

For one, we put an end to the horrific practice of locking up innocent kids behind bars for months on end in immigration …

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