Farron: Lib Dems will take on the Tories and deliver the internationalist, economically competent, decent government that Britain deserves”

An article on the Times Red Box website examined the potential for a Liberal Democrat comeback following the EU Referendum.

I spoke to the journalist who wrote it, Natasha Clark, and may have compared Tim Farron to another Liberal leader from across the Atlantic:

They had a dynamic leader who made the case, harnessed the mood of the people with a very simple message. I think we will soon have a majority of people who don’t want to leave the EU, and we will be there to make that case.

Tim Farron was also interviewed and he had a right go at Theresa May:

Farron is, understandably, not a fan of any of either candidate for the Tory leadership, in particular the home secretary, who he slams for her inaction during the referendum campaign.

“Theresa May makes Jeremy Corbyn look like a grafter,” he jeered. “In the sense that she can step into the breach having done nothing to save the country… she may have had more of an impact than if Jeremy Corbyn did. The economy is going down the plughole because of that cowardice.”

In contrast, he made it clear what he and the Lib Dems have to offer:

I want to build a movement of people who can run the country, take on the Tories and deliver the internationalist, economically competent, decent government that Britain deserves.

He reached out to moderate Labour and Conservative supporters:

Farron predicted that Labour will split, and wants to be there to catch the moderates when it does. “I can’t see a happy ending for the Labour party,” he said with a slight air of sadness, predicting a “carnage” of deselections of moderate MPs if Jeremy Corbyn is booted out as leader.

“That would make the run up to the formation of the SDP look like a tea party in comparison.”

And to the Conservatives, he calls out to the One Nation Tory, the “good, liberal minded people” to look to his party.

His offer to them is unity, a youthful, energetic party with a belief in social justice and a desire to win elections. He also has his sights on nicking the Conservative’s territory of economic competence.

He added that the Tories had trashed both the economy and their own brand.

Also quoted is Daisy Benson, from Yeovil:

Daisy Benson, a young activist based in Somerset, says the EU referendum “is bigger than fees”, and the party’s intense focus on mental health will drive further support. “People are mobilising around us and the fact we appear to have a plan. A plan about our future prosperity,” she said.

You can read the whole article here. (£)

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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26 Comments

  • John Barrett 9th Jul '16 - 12:50pm

    Tim will have to lead the party on the 18th July on the debate on Trident renewal and I for one hope to see him make the moral, financial and defence case for scrapping Trident and ending the prospect of ever using Weapons of Mass Destruction on anyone anywhere, using the billions of pounds saved for many more worthwhile priorities and using our defence budget for defence, not to maintain our place “at the top table” with the big boys.

  • Tony Dawson 9th Jul '16 - 12:59pm

    I found Tim to be very impressive on ‘Any Questions’. His ‘shot from the hip’ style has some risks so we must anticipate the odd mistake but overall he comes across as plain-speaking and commonsense. The principal obstruction which he faces in gaining impact for the Party is lack of exposure due to the media having relegated us pot-2015 to being below SNP and largely-below UKIP.

    Meanwhile, on Question Time, we appear to have (largely) an ally in Ian Hislop who is very good at cutting complex arguments into acceptable soundbites.

  • Hi John, wouldn’t it be nice? However not really realistic is it? Employment at Barrow and in Scotland?

  • Add on: looks like a Labour leadership contest being announced on Monday. If it is bitter as we migh expect should be helpful news for ourselves. Fingers crossed.

  • Conor McGovern 9th Jul '16 - 1:37pm

    I don’t want a moderate, managerial, “decent” government just to get the Blairites on board. I want a bold, radical government crusading for a fairer Britain. I’m not going to place one wing of the party on a pedestal above the other, but it puzzles me why Tim uses the language of Clegg when he ran on the values of Kennedy.

  • Martin Land 9th Jul '16 - 2:56pm

    An independent Scotland would dictate a complete rethink of Trident anyway. It’s increasingly obvious that with Putin’s idiocy we need a large conventional army, not a missile program we can’t afford.

  • Neil Sandison 9th Jul '16 - 3:39pm

    We also have another important task and that is to stop the UK from fracturing into small nationalistic states without common cause .One United Kingdom of its component parts has been seriously harmed by Brexit.

  • Jenny Barnes 9th Jul '16 - 3:56pm

    Employment is clearly important, but it isn’t a powerful enough argument to do something stupid. SLBM deterrent is not viable in it’s own terms for much longer; sub sea drone gliders could pinpoint every sub, and make pre-emptive first strike feasible again. And after Brexit we have a lot less money to spend on vanity projects. We should spend the money on housing, and retraining those who lose their jobs as tradesmen.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Jul '16 - 3:59pm

    Conor, the problem with “bold and radical”, for me, is it often means “high taxes and regulations” and it makes me feel condemned to a life of mediocrity where you can’t afford to save much money and for people without good pensions that is a big deal.

    We need to spend as much as we can without making work feel like it doesn’t pay much.

  • John Barrett 9th Jul '16 - 4:39pm

    Theakes – Hi John, wouldn’t it be nice? However not really realistic is it? Employment at Barrow and in Scotland.

    You may be right, but it is a sad reflection on our country if the only way we can preserve jobs is by building weapons to kill people. We are one of the major arms manufacturers in the world and those who have a track record or pumping arms into unstable countries must then accept a responsibility for the chaos and carnage which often follows.

  • We suddenly find ourselves in a situation where there is, ideologically, a yawning hole in the heart of British politics (I chose the word “heart” in preference to “centre” because I do not want to suggest that our party’s proper ideological position is a centrist one). We all know from reading these threads that those who contribute to them have differing opinions on specific areas of policy, but what I hope that the great majority of us share is a commitment to the values set out in the preamble to our party’s constitution, which are values to which the other political parties are certainly not signed up.
    For those who are currently not members of our party, whether because of past disagreements over policy matters or because they have never signed up for membership at all, this is surely the time to join or rejoin the Liberal Democrats along with the 16,000 who have done so in the last few weeks.

  • Theakes do you really want the scraps and tossed away soiled items from a Labour party in crisis. What about fighting your own corner with your own arguments.

  • Joanna Czechowska 9th Jul '16 - 9:30pm

    What would happen if all the Labour MPs who opposed Corbyn and have been told by the ultra left to leave joined the Lib Dems? That’s about 150 MPs. Would the Libs Dems welcome them. I guess so. I suppose that would trigger bye elections in their constituences and cause a mini general election. Maybe people would vote them in and increase the power of the Lib Dems and leave a nub of Labour. Would that work?

  • John Barrett 10th Jul '16 - 12:13am

    Simon – No, many people believe the complete opposite is the case and that you are likely to come to a wrong decision if you decide to replace Trident without knowing whether or not you would ever use them.

    I appreciate you take the opposite view, but do not think those who take a contrary view must therefore be wrong.

    Many people do not consider Trident has any deterrent effect. If that is in fact true, what then is the point of it?

    If we had not replaced Polaris many years ago, I suspect we would not have noticed the difference in terms of deterring those who are supposed to have been deterred by Trident. The threats today are not in any way diminished by a nuclear weapons system.

  • If one assumed that all players on the geopolitical stage were rational, then one would have to conclude that none of them would ever choose to use nuclear weapons. For instance, if the UK were to find itself at war with Russia or China, launching Trident could not save a single British soul from being bombed or gassed or stop the territory of British allies from being invaded. All it could do is to flatten several Russian or Chinese cities and kill millions of civilians who have nothing to do with the war, after the UK had already lost: revenge after the fact, leaving an already ruined world even worse off and making the task of rebuilding after the war even more difficult. That’s both morally reprehensible and, in terms of practical concerns, indefensible. Therefore, the only sensible decision to be made would be not to use Trident, and save whatever could be saved of the world for the future.
    But if no sane and conscientious person could bring him or herself to engage in such a perverse and useless retaliatory strike, it therefore follows that the Presidents of Russian and China can understand this and act on the assumption that Trident will not be used. And if that is the case, then Trident has no deterrent effect.

    For Trident to be a deterrent, therefore, it requires not only sufficient megatonnage to threaten the population of a potential enemy state; it also requires that the authority responsible for using Trident be stark staring mad and incapable of doing an elementary moral calculation. According to Simon, this is the test by which we should choose Prime Ministers.

  • Conor McGovern 10th Jul '16 - 1:20am

    Eddie, I see what you mean. I’m much more interested in structural reform when it comes to the economy – the banks, the green sector, job creation – and I don’t want excessive tax and spend just to look radical for the sake of it. A land tax to fund housing and closing tax loopholes to fund SME rate cuts would be radical and good for people without an overbearing treasury.

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Jul '16 - 2:40am

    Conor, I agree with your sentiments!

  • John Barrett 10th Jul '16 - 10:44am

    David-1 “For Trident to be a deterrent, therefore, it requires not only sufficient mega-tonnage to threaten the population of a potential enemy state; it also requires that the authority responsible for using Trident be stark staring mad and incapable of doing an elementary moral calculation. According to Simon, this is the test by which we should choose Prime Ministers”.

    Well said. This is why the deterrence argument is equally mad.

    Recent history has shown governments, and people, willing to go to war and then being prepared to kill hundreds of thousand of innocent civilians as a result of their beliefs, even when the evidence showed those same beliefs to be fantasy (WMD) they then simply changed the justification for going to war (from finding WMD to removing Saddam) despite repeatedly offering Saddam an opportunity to remain in power.

    Simon – The nuclear deterrent is in many ways much the same fantasy as the existence of WMD was in Tony Blair’s mind.

    If you (like he was) are convinced it exists I will not be able change your mind.

    I cannot justify the non-existence of something I do not believe exist. It is up to those who believe it does and who wish to spend £100bn over the lifetime of Trident to come up with something better than that.

    I do not believe in angels, while according to polls apparently over 80% of Americans do, but I would have a hard time proving they don’t exist. If people really do believe they exist, I doubt I would change their minds too. If they are trying to convince me I am wrong, I would expect to see something more solid than their own conviction for me to change my mind.

  • It seems somewhat premature to make a decision on Trident when a “Which union?” referendum in Scotland is still highly likely before 2020 and could lead to the rUK wasting money on WMD but having nowhere to put them. It seems a strange use of defence money in a week when we have just had the Chilcott report saying, among many other things, that UK conventional forces are sent into conflicts without suitable equipment.

    It is like an amplified echo of the purchase of aircraft carriers without any aircraft to put on them.

  • James Hicklin 10th Jul '16 - 12:15pm

    Caron didn’t mention that the article also quoted Anthony Wells, research director at YouGov,. He said that “the fate of the party depended on what happens next to Labour” He said a comeback was “not completely unfeasible” but “The main problem with the Lib Dems is that few people are listening to them … People who are very alienated may feel the party is with them, but the problem is what they are offering isn’t very deliverable.”
    The article concludes that “It is difficult to imagine the circumstances the party needs in order to thrive coming true,” though it concedes that “Hopeful, positive and full of spirit, the Lib Dems may still be down, but they are not out.”
    Perhaps the best hope is for a Labour split that is bigger, more successful and longer lasting than last time. Anyone for Alliance?

  • Yes, let us also be known as good opposition with Labour and Greens, when we do oppose the government, and a positive force when we agree.

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