How does the party recover after a bruising week?

Three days on and I’m still utterly livid at the way in which Tim Farron was forced to resign on Wednesday. His own searingly heartfelt and at times confusing resignation statement has raised more questions than it answered and I know that some LGBT people in the party, particularly LGBT Christians in the party are bewildered and upset by that.

Tim doesn’t have a homophobic bone in his body. He loves people, all people and cares deeply about the issues which affect their life chances. He has argued for the fight for LGBT rights to be advanced in various ways because he knows that that is the right thing to do.

The snap election was a bit of a perfect storm for him. The Tories, who hadn’t really tried to win Westmorland in 2015, upped the ante, so as well as representing the party around the country, he had a fight on his beloved home patch which he only narrowly won. The election was too soon to be properly about Brexit and because neither the other two parties nor the media wanted to scare any horses, so our unique position was not as known or appealing as it would have been in a couple of years time. That, of course, is why Theresa May took the gamble she did.

In trying to piece together the events of this week, I hear, though, that Tim had returned to Westminster in a positive mood. Friendly sources close to him tell me that he had pretty much decided that he wouldn’t fight another election and would have stepped down in an orderly fashion in the not too distant future.

Unfortunately, certain of our peers couldn’t wait for that to play out. Tim had come under criticism from them at their Parliamentary Party meeting and some of them felt that action was required sooner rather than later. On Wednesday afternoon, it seemed that a concerted effort to get rid of Tim was under way when Brian Paddick resigned as Shadow Home Secretary. (Update 9:40 pm)Lord Paddick in the comments below denies involvement in any concerted action but others did make public attempts to undermine Tim Farron). The day before, Liz Barker, who is not a supporter of Tim’s, retweeted an article saying that Tim needed to go, saying it was something to think about. Anthony Lester, or at least his office, responded to Paddick’s tweet announcing his resignation by saying that we needed a change of leader. 

And then a number of Lords, the exact composition of whom is not known, confronted Tim and effectively forced him to resign. Paddy Ashdown and Dick Newby have both been mentioned as key to that.

My impression from talking to sources close to the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons is that they are pretty much all absolutely furious at what went on. They had no idea what was going to happen because they hadn’t been consulted and were shocked when Tim came into a meeting and announced that he was going there and then.

It’s not a good look for us as a party. We’ve only had five leaders, for goodness’ sake, and three of them have been deposed in events like this. While there may have been reason for concern about Charles Kennedy, members were furious at what happened to him at the end of 2005 because they thought there were better ways of dealing with it. In 2007 after Gordon Brown bottled the snap election, Ming Campbell was felt by some to be too old so he was effectively told to go. And now a leader who doubled the party membership, took the right line on the big issues of the day and came within 500 votes of doubling the size of the parliamentary party was chucked out prematurely and  for no good reason.

The Lords group has done much to enhance its reputation and standing in the party in recent years, supporting campaigning and being very useful. In the weekend after the election they tried to phone every single candidate who had stood for us and thank them for their efforts.  Now it looks like this unelected group, who consider themselves immune to any sort of accountability, have effectively deposed a popular leader, elected by the wider membership.  My view is that anyone involved in this unnecessary act should be considering their positions.

So at the moment, as we can see from the comments threads on here, half the party is as furious as I am. I know that the Scottish party has taken a huge number of calls from angry members in support of Tim.

How do we get through this fraught period?

Well, for a start, the ensuing leadership contest must be inspiring and joyful. It must take us above and beyond our anger and give us positive reasons to vote for our chosen candidates.

And there must be a contest. It is for the members to choose leaders. It is not for the parliamentary parties, either of them, to do so. There would, I think, be huge anger if we were not given a choice.

The four names in the frame so far are Jo Swinson, Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Norman Lamb. We don’t yet know which, if any, of them will stand. Whoever does stand has a responsibility to make sure that the campaign is fought in a much more positive spirit than the last one.

In 2015, shocked, traumatised members went straight from a horrendous election defeat  into a bruising and polarising leadership contest. All the grief and anger about what had happened to the party made for a toxic atmosphere which seemed to be a fight for the very soul of the party. Would it go back to its previous social liberal path or stay on the same course as it had during the Clegg years?In the end, Tim won comfortably and did a great job.

The campaign that is coming now must have no “Calamity Clegg” moments, no questionable polls, and must be fought well. There are some really tricky issues to resolve, over Brexit, over the direction and strategy of the party and we must do that with intelligence, sensitivity, thoughtfulness and humour.

Tim Farron inherited a party that was in dire need of resuscitation. It hadn’t even had the life support switched on yet. Within 18 months, he had a spectacular by-election victory, countless local triumphs and his 2020 membership target smashed. Not only that, but he championed changes which made our party more diverse. Without his passionate and compassionate voice, we could have slid from existence. This party owes Tim a huge debt of gratitude. Let’s make sure that we build on his legacy. If we don’t, our survival is far from certain.

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

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  • Helen Quenet 17th Jun '17 - 10:28am

    I hate what has happened to Tim. Glad to have some of the assassins named. Thank you.
    As to way forward my opinion is that anyone who served in the coalition must be eschewed. We need a clean broom. We need to find a Macron.

  • Thomas Shakespeare 17th Jun '17 - 10:32am

    I completely agree that attacks on Tim’s faith were utterly unwarranted. He is a liberal – his private faith shouldn’t matter bc he doesn’t impose it on others, unlike Theresa May. However, Tim’s failure to clarify to young people discovering their sexuality that being gay is not morally wrong was very concerning. For me the bottom line is that Tim promised nine net gains in public during the campaign (why?) and we only made three.

  • John Barrett 17th Jun '17 - 10:36am

    Caron “Now it looks like this unelected group, who consider themselves immune to any sort of accountability, have effectively deposed a popular leader, elected by the wider membership”

    How true.

    I think we deserve to know exactly who was in the delegation that knocked on Tim’s door and we should also be told just what the recently elected MP thought of the Peers’ behaviour.

    If, as I fear, we now have a party where unelected members of the Lords can unilaterally decide when the Leader of the party goes, it is not a party that many of the new (old older) members will want to remain in.

    Sadly, Tim played a key part in his downfall by following previous leaders of our party in looking to the Lords to bolster his statements in the media and to give endless unknown Peers positions in his team of spokesmen and women, while ignoring the many talented people outside Westminster, including key candidates in this most election.

    With a group of only 9 or 12 MPs, it is more important than ever that we do not become a party where unelected Lords end up running the show, or the public will rightly conclude that we have lost the plot.

    I did not vote for Tim as leader, but if reports on this site are true about the way he was forced to resign, it is a disgrace.

  • It would help if, instead of speculation, someone senior actually either came out and admitted “this is what happened” and named those involved. Or, said: “The rumours are wrong, there was no delegation.”
    What’s angering me now is the total silence from the top, as if nothing has happened and everything’s peachy.
    Until we get a statement, everyone is left wondering, and distrustful of people who either acted abominably or seem happy to let us thing they may have done so.
    Any leadership candidate is surely going to face questions on this (and their views on whether people of faith are welcome in the party). If Norman stands, he in particular will have to defend his position on this, given what happened in the last contest.
    This will all be as distracting as the whole faith issue was for Tim in getting the party’s values across in the media.

  • ….think they may have done so.

  • Good article Caron. I’m still fuming after the events of the week – forced on a day that hundreds had their lives destroyed in London don’t forget. I’m honestly reflecting on whether the is the right party for me as a Christian and Liberal – and I say that as a serving Councillor.

    Is it time to follow the SNP lead and decide no longer to appoint Lords, it would show how serious we are about Lords Reform, take some of the patronage away and make it clear to the Lords group that their legitimacy and influence is overstated. Happy to make an exception for anyone called Tony Greaves!

    I don’t think our leadership contest in 2015 was as divisive as Caron recalls. – Remember Labour’s at the same time was electing Jeremy Corbyn to the angst of the rest of their party. We need to be tough on our candidates though – how will you unite those who felt Tim had to go and those who are dismayed – how will you move the party on from the tuition fees fiasco which is still hurting us – how can you get taken seriously against the big 2 parties? Definitely no time for a stitchup or a coronation.

    And with that, off to enjoy the sunshine with my family. Feels a better way to spend the day than worrying about politics today.

  • This article was linked from Chris Whiting’s “embrace radicalism or die thread yesterday.
    I’m not sure how many read it – you should (sorry sounds a bit authoritarian), but really…

    There was one line in here (amongst many actually) that jumped out and hit my square between the eyes:
    “The Liberal Democrat party is such a big church of conflicting viewpoints that it is too overweight with competing opinions to ever get airborne”

    Often new pairs of eyes with no baggage to pull behind them can be remarkably perceptive. They maybe need to be listened to more closely?

    Without going into too much detail on ‘social styles’ models or profiling tools, the Lib Dem’s appear to me to be significantly overweight in “analytical introvert types” whose primary motivating driver is the need for respect and to be proved correct.
    This leads to a tendency to get “lost in detail” often at the expense of the “bigger picture”

    The bigger picture is probably quite complex.
    However, Dominic’s article appears to articulate a major challenge for the party:

    How to accommodate a wide range of opinions whist at the same time being effective as a political force.
    My gut tells me, this is something that needs tackling head on.
    If not there is a real concern, very many of the new dynamic, media and IT savvy, enthusiastic, energetic, ideas generating, visionary new recruits may simply move on.

    The ultimate irony of Tim’s resignation (and I say that as someone who believed, despite my admiration for him, that he was right to go), the Lib Dem’s have just lost one of the most inspiration motivational speakers I have seen in politics in my lifetime.
    Listen to his 2015 conference leadership speech!
    The fact these skills were never able to shine and break through to a wider audience is a tragedy.
    To recruit internally, those skills now have to be found, found alongside laser sharp media performance. I do not see those qualities at present in any of the 4 names being touted. That is a big concern.

  • David Abrahams 17th Jun '17 - 11:35am

    I think the root cause of the problem was Tim’s inability to give clear and coherent answers about the inter-relationship between his faith and his professed support for LGBT rights. For that he only has himself to blame. I voted for Tim in 2015 and agree that he did achieve positive things as Leader but I am also convinced that his painfully evasive answers on LGBT issues cost us votes. As a gay Christian myself it was excruciating canvassing gay people who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for us because of Tim. Increasing our MPs was good news but I would have been horrified in 2015 if someone had predicted that Tim would lead us to fewer votes and a lower vote-share than our 2015 post-coalition catastrophe. Sadly I find myself in the “relieved he’s going” section of the membership.

  • Simon McGrath 17th Jun '17 - 11:36am

    Most of the peers you name have a very long history of serving the party. why on earth should they not be allowed to tell Tim the simple fact that he was not an effective leader during the election. Isnt it their duty to do so ?

  • I have to say I was angry at first. After reflection I am not as angry. I voted for Tim as the best person to put the party back together. Unfortunately he did not have a good general election. I did a lot of phone canvassing and he was not going down well with the public where in our media driven age image is so important and unfortunately there probably was not enough time for the real Tim to come through. Someone said he is the kind of guy you feel bad about hiding in the house and not answering the door to. Yes he was popular with us lib dem members but to be honest we are not a good reflection of the population as a whole. I am afraid to say that if Tim had come to our constituency after the election I would probably have asked him to think about the Party and ask himself if he was the right person to lead. That probably makes me like one of the delegation who as I said I was initially angry about. We now learn from Caron he would have gone anyway before the next election. I don’t get that either!

  • Neil Fawcett 17th Jun '17 - 11:48am

    I would like to associate myself completely with Caron’s comments.

    Tim has sweated blood to rebuild our party since the last election and, even if there are valid criticisms of some aspects of his leadership, this was not the way to handle them.

    Despite having just been involved with one of the successes of the election, supported by Tim at the start and end of the campaign, I am feeling profoundly saddened by these events.

    The members of our party should decide when our leaders come and go, not the unelected party establishment.

    And it seems they didn’t even have a follow up plan either. Which is sadly typical.

  • I didn’t know Tim personally. The closest I got was 10 feet from the back of his head. My opinion is thus very much from the viewpoint of an ordinary guy in the street with a bit of a positive bias. Seems like a really nice guy but not the finished article…. Yet?? Having said that, if you got involved in politics I assume it is because you care about people and this country. You also feel that the Tories and Labour are not going to serve these people properly. We may be asked to fight another GE as soon as the autumn of this year. Much as people have got angry about the circumstances surrounding Tim’s resignation, I don’t think we have too much time to invest in this introspection. With all due respect and gratitude to Tim, it is what it is. We need to move on, quickly. For the good of the country.
    p.s. Not particularly on this thread, but I wish people would stop coming on this site and saying that they are thinking about resigning from the party. I sincerely hope you wont, but If you are going to, please, please, have the good grace to do it privately.

  • Mark Smulian 17th Jun '17 - 12:00pm

    The idea that Tim was forced into resignation by a cabal of malevolent peers just doesn’t ring true.
    Why would he have cared what they thought? Leaders do not resign when people well known to be hostile to them tell them to go – they resign if their own supporters tell them that their time is up.
    I think the answer may lie more in Caron’s observation that Tim had “pretty much decided that he wouldn’t fight another election”, and reports that he seemed ill at ease and not enjoying the campaign.
    Clegg, Kennedy and Ashdown each fought two general elections, Steel three. A leader deciding to go after one is unusual, especially given the result was a disappointment but not a resigning matter.

  • Nicholas Cunningham 17th Jun '17 - 12:09pm

    Politics has always had a dark side to it, the unseen who operate in the shadows, they’re thinking, they and they alone hold the key to political wisdom. Red line for me is our position on Brexit, no wishy-washy position is acceptable, cannot support candidates who voted for article 50.

  • Laurence Cox 17th Jun '17 - 12:11pm


    I agree with you that the Party should not appoint any more Peers. It was a useful way in the past of ensuring that the Lords’ Party at least achieved gender and ethnic balance and that good parliamentary candidates were not lost as spokespersons, but the disparity in size between the Party Group as it exists in the Lords and what it would be if it was based on our share of the vote, does lead one to question their democratic authority.

  • Duncan Brack 17th Jun '17 - 12:12pm

    I agree with Mark Smulian. However many they were, there is no mechanism that peers can use to declare Tim no longer leader. In the end it was his own decision. All the peers appear to have done is tip him into taking a step he was planning to take anyway, sooner or later. Arguably, since we may face another election within the next twelve months, the sooner we have a new leader in place the better. Last point: even if we think what these peers did was wrong, let’s not demonise the entire Lords party for the actions of an unknown number of them – I’m sure it wasn’t all 100-odd.

  • The Delegation should Out themselves before some enterprising journalist does it for them. The Party as a whole should make its anger clear but that all we can do. Theres nothing we can actually do to people in The Lords, we need them more than they need us, for now. We cant force anyone to make an Apology but it would be a Liberal sort of gesture & might help.
    Lets all try & look forward now, with hope.

  • Sorry to double post but I felt I had to respond to Laurence Cox. In fact if we add up our Representation in both Houses of Parliament, it comes out as roughly proportional to our Vote share last Week. We should carry on adding New Lords in line with our Vote share.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Jun '17 - 12:25pm

    They know who they are and so does Tim Farron.
    They have damaged the party.
    The next leader will want to have another reshuffle.

  • I’m not sure why I’m posting this as experience tells me any dissenting view is spiked by the author of this piece.

    Tim might be a good bloke but he was a poor leader who had two years to come up with a way to close off debate on his personal morality and failed.

    Our precious air time was squandered on him – he became the story; and to those with whom he registered he was perceived as a religious obsessive with an equivocal view of homosexuality.

    That is why he had to go.

  • I’m not privy to the thinking around Tim’s resignation. But on the specific issue of supposed homophobia we do have a problem because the attack was getting traction. The problem is that we were in the horrible place where denials of homophobia were not being believed, so our opponents had got to the place where, each time Tim denied it, what was being heard was that there was something to deny. As a candidate in 8 June, i had an easy solution, which is just to say “I’m gay”, but that’s harder for straight colleagues to do. In Tim’s case, standing down now doesn’t preclude him coming back (unless he is too battered by the experience).

    Sadly, the two slurs I was getting on us in this campaign were that (a) we can’t be trusted because of tuition fees, and (b) we have/had a homophobic leader. Both had taken on a life of their own that had little to do with reality. Most of us have got very used to dealing with questions in tuition fees, and having two “slurs that won’t die” was getting difficult.

    My instinct now is that we need a little recovery time, both from this and from an exhausting general election. But it also feels as if there’s little can be said right now that doesn’t both undermine the new leader, and make it harder for Tim to put his hat in the ring to lead again in the future.

  • For context, here’s what I posted on the members’ forum the day after the election:

    “I don’t see any pressing need to drop our leader – which would look like an admission that the Party as a whole, not just Farron, had failed. It’s not as simple as that. We got some things wrong, other things staggeringly right. Sticking with Farron would make that point. There’s just one big issue … the gay sex millstone (on which, or so I argued, Tim needed to get away from agonised indecision and ambiguity).

    So – When I agree 110% about the baleful influence of Party grandees and donors, it isn’t because I’m more than moderately pro-Farron. It’s because I think we should all be very worried about whether we are largely puppets, dancing to the tunes of unseen pipers, in this Party.

    This isn’t the first time we have seen evidence of subterranean volcanoes in action. There was the time when Farron put forward five virtually unachievable criteria which would allow him to support the bombing of Syria, and next day did a volte-face and offered his support. What was all that about?

    In his early leadership, Farron produced a long, carefully argued, and brilliantly radical policy overview. It must have taken days to write, and it gained much critical acclaim on these pages. The speech was delivered, archived, and ignored. Was making a speech the limit of what Farron had gained permission to do?

    This is a party which, even back in 1996, clearly agreed to let powerful vested interests govern its decisions:

    This is a party which now claims, in effect, that it was comprehensively outwitted in its coalition with the Tories. Was it as simple as that?

    Britain needs a party which can oppose Toryism, oppose promise-the-earth Labourism, and oppose hard Brexit. Is out Party fit for that purpose?

  • Richard Underhill 17th Jun '17 - 12:52pm

    We do not want a coalition with either Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn, neither of whom has yet resigned as leader of their party. Our leadership candidates will probably need to address the issue of whether and / or in what conditions we would do a deal with either the Tory party or the Labour party. They should not hide behind the DUP, which is already receiving derision and may cause instability, if, for instance, the DUP MPs are supporting the Tories at Westminster and their Leader and other MLAs go into coalition again with Sinn Fein (ourselves alone) in the Northern Ireland Assembly under the terms of the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Jun '17 - 1:29pm

    This is a fine and fair article from Caron , we need this approach , and some !

    I do not though really think we can say he was forced out. Corbyn stood his ground when presented with no confidence. Tim has the confidence of mps. He is his own man. He made a decision.

    The peers need to tell all or the leaders must go, Newby, Barker, Ashdown, Lester, they are not running our party and must be held acountable.

    The country is in a crisis, this party is not and a few peers cannot , must not cause one!

  • Thomas Shakespeare 17th Jun '17 - 1:34pm

    Criticism of Tim’s Lib Dem colleagues seems unhelpful. There were issues with our campaign – Tim promised eighteen seats and we only got twelve. The messaging was inconsistent and Tim could have handled attacks on his faith better. I gather – but don’t know for sure – that Brian Paddick was disappointed that Tim didn’t make it clear there was no moral issue with being gay, especially for kids growing up and feeling insecure. He had a very legitimate point.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Jun '17 - 1:46pm

    I have read Alex , here , and seem to think we need to listen to him, so , I would say I can sympathise with peers, Padick and Barker if they have had no part in the push but felt left out and ashamed, not because of Tim in his views, but the reaction and his answers.

    Richard , I am now , yes , some are going to be surprised, prepared to get involved in a coalition , even with Corbyn , if it saves this country from revolution or riot 1

  • Paul Murray 17th Jun '17 - 1:56pm

    There is something to be said for the argument that Farron could not square the circle of progressive politics and sincerely-held religious belief. A number of times during media interviews which should have been a precious opportunity to advance the party’s platform we sailed close to having tortured discourses on the nature of sin. Having said that I thought Farron’s worst performance in interview was with Andrew Neil who never mentioned Farron’s faith at all.

    David Laws wrote in “i News” that “you cannot be a leader of a liberal party while holding fundamentally illiberal and prejudiced views.” Not even when you have a track record of consistently voting against illiberalism and prejudice? I agree with Laws comments about the word “tolerance” which I have always disliked as it is oozes implied moral superiority and sounds like it may be withdrawn at will.

    Based on the publicly posted comments of various people named in the OP it would seem that it’s not good enough to “talk the talk” and “walk the walk” you’ve got to “think the think” too. I wait with interest to see the list of religions whose members are to be banned from running for Liberal Democrat leadership due to suspicion they may be guilty of thoughtcrime.

  • Thomas Shakespeare 17th Jun '17 - 2:11pm

    Paul, David Laws’ article fails to understand Christianity. Declaring something a sin is not the same as believing it is wrong. Christianity teaches that you cannot judge others on their beliefs – only God judges sin. If Tim had answered that question – whatever his view is – it would be a breach of his faith and Christian teaching.

  • Thomas Shakespeare 17th Jun '17 - 2:20pm

    My above comment was moderated so I’ll rephrase it. Norman Lamb said on QT his concern with Tim’s campaign was that attacks on his faith didn’t acknowledge that being gay is normal and morally sound, especially to kids growing up and struggling with their sexuality. He makes a very valid point.

    The other issue was that Tim said in Match we wanted to be the official opposition, and by the end was saying we’d get eighteen seats. We ended up with twelve. Our messaging was a mess. What does ‘change Britain’s future’ actually tell voters? Every party wants to change something.

  • Peter Kenny 17th Jun '17 - 2:50pm

    Cometh the hour, cometh the woman or man!

    I don’t support your party, I was briefly tempted during the Iraq war by Charles Kennedy who remains, to an outsider your best ever leader. He was better with all his personal problems than all the rest without them.

    Tim Farron just wasn’t up to it, was he? He had a sort of charm, I liked his jokes in Leaders debate but he has just folded under pressure.

    A delegation of party grandees? Jeremy Corbyn has faced two years of relentless onslaught from his Party, the Media, the ‘establishment’ and has now established himself as a truly national figure.

    I guess that sort of grit is rare, it certainly doesn’t reflect on Tim Farron as a person that he’s had enough. I think Kennedy had it, it took courage to lead your party to oppose the war, but you seriously need to find someone with it for your party to prosper because you’re going to have a long, hard time of it.

    If you get rid of your leader at every difficult turn you’ll soon run out of candidates…

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 17th Jun '17 - 2:51pm

    Caron, As I said in a comment on another article, we still don’t really know the facts about this “delegation” who supposedly visited Tim Farron and asked him to resign. We don’t know exactly who then were, or exactly what was said. So until we know all the facts, I really don’t think we should rush to judge. I agree with Lorenzo’s comment, that it cannot be true to say that he was “forced out”. A group of peers may have asked him to resign, but he could just have said no, especially if, as you suggest, he still had the support of the Parliamentary Party. You suggest that he had intended to stand down within a few months anyway. Perhaps, knowing this, the peers suggested to him that it might be better for the party to have a new leader in place as soon as possible, considering that there is a real possibility of another general election within a year. Perhaps Tim decided that they were right. After all, the peers were entitled to express their opinions, like any other party member. But ultimately, they had no power to force Tim to resign. He said himself in his speech that he had made this decision voluntarily.

  • Peter Brand 17th Jun '17 - 2:54pm

    Whatever anyone said to him, Tim must have agreed with it or he wouldn’t have resigned. It’s his decision. We should respect it, however regrettable we find it.

  • I’m here to agree fully with Alex Wilcock. We are in a bad state if we think that the people in the line of fire here are Christians, not queer people. We need our next leader to be clean break from Tim’s muddled interviews and fuzzy thinking, much as we need to refresh ourselves completely as a party and come up, at last, with a clear and concise vision for ourselves and the country.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 17th Jun '17 - 3:05pm

    Lorenzo is right to point out that Jeremy Corbyn stood his ground when the parliamentary Labour Party tried to force him out. He refused to resign, and now seems to have gained the respect even of those who tried to force him out. Caron, your interpretation of the events of the past week makes Tim Farron look weak in comparison with Corbyn. I’m not saying that he actually is weak, because I don’t believe he was forced out in the way you suggest.

  • Leon Duveen 17th Jun '17 - 3:18pm

    If our MPs aee really that furious at the ousting of Tim by the unelected Peers, can I suggest that none of them stand to be Leader.
    It is time we took a stand against the unelected and unrepresented group who sometimes give the impression they own abd run our party.

  • david thorpe 17th Jun '17 - 3:27pm

    i broadly agree with Caron’s points-except on one thing. The author states it was ‘too soon’ for the election to be about Brexit. But the Tories made it about Brexit. It is too soon for the loib dem theory of what brexit will do to the econjomy to be known…but thats its a theory/..

  • David Allen 17th Jun '17 - 3:39pm

    “The peers were entitled to express their opinions, like any other party member.”

    But peers, especially in the plural, do wield just a little bit more effective clout than “any other party member”, don’t they?

    “But ultimately, they had no power to force Tim to resign.”

    Meaningless truism. Sure, our constitution does not in fact state that an ex-Leader may at any time veto the continuation in office of the current Leader. Does anybody think it should state that?

    “Your interpretation … makes Tim Farron look weak in comparison with Corbyn.”

    No real comparison. Corbyn faced internal opposition to his ideological convictions, and, people with strong convictions don’t suddenly throw in the towel just because other people disagree with them. Farron faced a charge of unsuitability to lead, and, leaders who want to inspire respect can be fatally undermined when their “friends” overtly turn against them. (Just watch what may happen if one or two Tories of stature – not only the occasional Soubry – turn against Theresa May!)

    “He said himself in his speech that he had made this decision voluntarily.”

    So did the guy who was left to sit at his desk with a tot of whisky and a loaded revolver. Farron sent us all an email entitled “What’s Next”, full of ebullience and future planning, just an hour and a half before his resignation!

  • Paul Murray hits the nail on the head with his final comment. We have, in effect moved from the 1960s permissive society to 2017’s mandatory affirmation, and simultaneously, of course , to a position if woeful ignorance as to what the world’s great religions teach. Genuine liberalism surely upholds the right of people to do things you yourself might not approve of. The Church of England calls this “Mutual Flourishing”, a concept some illiberal liberals cannot, it appears, embrace.

  • Eddie Sammon 17th Jun '17 - 3:57pm

    I agree the leadership contest needs to be positive. The last one was too negative. I also think Layla Moran and Wera Hobhouse should consider standing. All candidates need to have a robust answer for the tuition fees question.

    Being on broadly the right of the party (but not its fringes), I want to see someone comfortable with economic and foreign policy. Agreeing with some of Corbyn’s policies is fine, but we need to criticise complete non-interventionism and things like wide-scale nationalisations.

    I felt the party’s general election campaign didn’t make enough of an attempt to challenge Corbynism.

  • Thomas Shakespeare
    I have already answered your point about “promising 18, and only delivering 12 MPs”, but you have issued an unqualified repeat. As I said previously, we were so near achieving 16, but lost out by a mere handful of votes. As I and someone else also noted, our previous leader promised 120+ in what was subsequently to become the 2015 campaign – yes he resigned, but on a difference between 120+ and 8, I think we can say it was justified! Your point in relation to Farron’s performance seems curmudgeonly to say the least.

  • paul barker 17th Jun '17 - 4:54pm

    One of the odd things about British culture now is the way attitudes towards Christians mirror the popular feelings about Gays 40 Years ago.
    Back in the 70s “Nice” people didnt hate Gays or find them revolting but they didnt take them seriously either. Gays were funny, they were people who never grew up. We see the same attitude to believers in God now with snide comments about Father Xmas & The Tooth Fairy.
    The most obvious parallel is the people who dont mind Gays/Christians existing as long they keep quiet about it & dont thrust their “Lifestyle” into our faces. They especially object to Christians/Gays trying to “Convert” others.
    The point about being Liberal is that we hate Prejudice, all prejudices, not just the ones that happen to be unfashionable at any one time or place.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 17th Jun '17 - 5:02pm

    George Kendall, My comment was not intended to suggest that Corbyn was a hero. My point was that Caron’s interpretation of events made Tim Farron look weak in comparison, by suggesting that he could not stand up to a few peers. But I doubt if that is really how it was.

  • Brian Paddick 17th Jun '17 - 5:06pm

    I am very disappointed that Caron said that my resignation tweet appeared to be part of a concerted effort to force Tim to resign as leader. I explained to Caron in private and at length exactly BEFORE she wrote this piece, why I stepped down and that my resignation was NOT part of any concerted effort to get rid of Tim. I am sorry that the truth does not fit the narrative but this is what happened. I told Tim on Tuesday that I was stepping down. He said he was going to “crack on” and we both seemed to be content with our respective positions. If others attempted to use my decision, taken independently for personal reasons, as a lever to put pressure on Tim, it was not with my knowledge or consent. I do not want to cause more harm and upset by giving my reasons for stepping down but we have to be honest about what happened.

  • Sue Sutherland 17th Jun '17 - 6:41pm

    Thank you Brian for your contribution and I believe you. I wish others would follow your example and tell the members what happened. I have been feeling very sad and cross because there is a tendency in the party for grandees to ignore members and to act in an unecessarily secretive way and this was particularly noticeable when we were in Coalition and this hubris brought about a nemesis which is still on going.
    One of the problems that Tim’s resignation brings is that we have no experienced candidate who isn’t tainted by Coalition and it’s not just tuition fees. I’m disabled and I felt extremely embarrassed with my disabled friends about the way they were being treated when applying for benefits. We have to make a complete break with the past so it’s very sad that a man, supported by Jennie Rigg the chair of LGBT Lib Dems, and who supported our LGBT policies should fall a victim to others’ prejudice.

  • Bill MacCormick 17th Jun '17 - 7:09pm

    In the light of Brian Paddick’s comment above and in the light of this comment in The Times (15th June, page 20, column 3):
    “Allies of Mr Farron insisted that claims that a group of senior party figures, including Lord Paddick, had visited the leader yesterday and told him to resign were ‘just not true’. A source close to Mr Farron said that he had been considering his position since the election and felt he had completed his task of rebuilding the party of which he had been leader since July 2105.”
    can you explain your statement, which The Times says is ‘just not true’, that:
    “And then a number of Lords, the exact composition of whom is not known, confronted Tim and effectively forced him to resign. Paddy Ashdown and Dick Newby have both been mentioned as key to that.”
    Even if you reject the comments in The Times you say the composition of the delegation from the Lords was not known. On what basis, then, do you provide the names given above? Who has mentioned their names and in what context? And why should a leader confident in their place and determined to carry on take a blind bit of notice without reference to his own Parliamentary Party due to meet later that day? Why resign without consulting your Commons colleagues?
    At the moment all we have is hearsay and rumour to which this article contributes neither clarity nor enlightenment. Facts would be useful. Further speculation would not.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Jun '17 - 8:15pm

    Brian Paddick, Lord Paddick, has served our party well.

    For me sometimes, coming from a social democrat , ex- Labor background once upon a time, he is too ultra liberal on one or two issues. I supported him more than , one of my very favourite peers, Baroness Benjamin on the specific Bill in the Lords, but feel Brian could have been more robust in recognising that there are real issues of concern.

    Apart from that we have amidst us, a man brave and dilligent.

    As a serving policeman he has put himself in harms way for over two decades in the front and then leadership of policing our capitals streets. He was innovation personified on precisely issues we went to the election on, cannabis.

    Yet he has it seems been misunderstood and perhaps maligned by rumours.

    It has led those of us who supported him, including many as our candidate for mayor of London, twice, cross with him.

    This mess is intolerable.

    Are the peers name other than Brian figments of the imagination of the media, also ?

    I have said since the start of this and for years before and shall ever, Liberalism is flexibility , radicalism, moderation. We see too little of the latter instead of knee jerk reactions .

    It is evidence based. It is not above on this thread nor often lately in our leadership!

    And thus , talking of police , we need Lieutenant Columbo for our leadership election, there’s the leader we could do with !

  • Andrew McCaig 17th Jun '17 - 8:24pm

    I think that in the light of Brian Paddick’s statement on this thread and the next it is clear that there is a great deal of fake news flying about regarding the circumstances of Tim’s resignation and Caron as editor you should publicly retract this article and apologise to Lord Paddick in particular and to readers of Lib Dem Voice in general…

  • A Social Liberal 17th Jun '17 - 8:49pm

    Mr Paddick
    If your resignation meeting with Tim Farron lacked the acrimony that was so widely reported – why the tone of the tweet you put out?

    Most of all, why did you subsequently delete your tweet?

  • LibDemDavid 17th Jun '17 - 8:59pm

    your quote “I’ve resigned as @LibDems Shadow Home Secretary over concerns about the leader’s views on various issues that were highlighted during GE17. Can you clarify the views you were concerned about, what was said specifically and which issues. It seems your resignation whether you agree or not was the catalyst for the removal of a democratically elected leader. Why was there no consultation with party members before this pressure was ‘exercised’ on Tim Farron. I did a great deal of work campaigning for you when you stood as London Mayor and now wish in view of your behaviour and the sheer hubris of it I hadn’t bothered. There needs to be answers to questions as to who was involved, what was said and when? The 56% of us who voted in Tim are entitled to that. Sal Brinton should give a statement clarifying these issues, she’s one of your colleagues, we know you’re unelected and unaccountable but you can at least ask her to do so. Caron has no need to apologise, she articulates what many members now feel and this article must stand. It’s you in the Lords and those of your colleagues involved in all of this who should be doing the apologising and I am still waiting for this.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 17th Jun '17 - 9:30pm

    @Brian Paddick: So if we take your resignation to the side, there still appears to have been at least three if not more attempts to undermine Tim Farron. Two peers, Baroness Barker and Lord Lester tweeted in very hostile terms about Tim.

    I also have it on extremely good authority from several separate sources that there were other visits to Tim to persuade him to go and Lords Newby and Ashdown’s names have been specifically mentioned in that regard.

    What I don’t totally understand, Brian is wvhy you chose that day and time to publicly resign in a tweet, especially on a day of national disaster.

    It seems odd when the leader was reshuffling his team anyway and the changes would have been announced within 48 hours anyway.

    What we know is that at some point on Wednesday afternoon something happened that precipitated a much sooner than planned departure. Lib Dem peers are associated with that. Their Commons colleagues are none too pleased as to how it was done without any reference to them.

    It is entirely regrettable that this has been done in a manner that does not give a good impression of the party.

  • Thomas Shakespeare 17th Jun '17 - 9:31pm

    Caron, you might have had a good result in Scotland, but in many parts of the country the national campaign damaged us. There was no clear narrative to stop progressives backing Labour instead of the Lib Dems, especially in the North.

    @Tim13 I’m afraid I missed your last post. The trouble with the national campaign from Tim was there was no narrative to persuade people not to support Labour. ‘Change britain’s future’ was an empty platitude.

    I respect your decision completely Brian Paddick and I know it must have been a difficult one to come to. You are a leading figure who had fought for our party consistently and I find these smears on your reputation concerning.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 17th Jun '17 - 9:34pm

    @Andrew McCaig: what I have written has been pieced together from conversations with many people in a position to know what happened.

    There was a concerted attempt to force the leader out. Brian Paddick has said that he was not involved in that so we need to take his word for it. There is, however, clear evidence that a number of public and private attempts by members of the House of Lords to undermine the leader were made.

  • I do not wish to intrude on what is an internal matter, and perhaps best conducted in private too, but please Lib Dems, PLEASE stop referring to your fellow Lib Dems as Lord or Lady {insert name}. Just call them Brian or Paddy or Liz. The term Lord/Lady etc is antiquated and implies a relationship of superiority of one individual over others, which is surely anathema to all liberals everywhere.

  • Andrew McCaig 17th Jun '17 - 10:33pm


    I have to ask myself why Tim chose to resign on a day of national disaster as well. All we have is his rather ill-judged statement, which has poured fuel on the fire, not dampened it (cf. the excellent blog post by Jenny Rigg). Articles like this on Lib Dem Voice, based on unattributed “conversations with people in a position to know what happened” are doing the same and I think it is time to calm down and stop the witch hunt after “Lib Dem Peers” all of whom pretty much by definition are people who have given their whole lives to the Party and its predecessors.

    I thought during the campaign, after hearing the same thing on tens of doorsteps, that Tim as Leader was holding us back, not helping us to move forward. His incredible lack of preparation for being asked questions about gay rights was just an example, and not the most important – he had suffered a long campaign of vilification in the right wing Press over Brexit, and unfortunately it stuck and he could not shake it off. I am not surprised at all if senior figures in the Party were putting pressure on him to give way, but I can well imagine some serious pressure was coming from other directions as well to cause his precipitous decision…One day perhaps we may hear more from Tim about the events that led to his decision, but I suspect he has the interests of the Party too much at heart to do that, and will maintain the dignified silence that might become others as well…

  • Bill MacCormick 18th Jun '17 - 7:48am

    If I read any more comments like ‘There is clear evidence…’, or ‘I think…’, or ‘It is obvious that’…’ or ‘Everyone knows…’ without then following up with the ‘clear evidence’ which ‘everyone know’ to support such statements my head will explode. All you are producing is rumour, innuendo, tittle tattle, gossip and hearsay. It is worthless unless supported by evidence. Get a grip.

  • Simon McGrath 18th Jun '17 - 8:22am

    “There was a concerted attempt to force the leader out. Brian Paddick has said that he was not involved in that so we need to take his word for it. There is, however, clear evidence that a number of public and private attempts by members of the House of Lords to undermine the leader were made
    the only evidence you offer is a couple of sharing articles on social media. any more than that ?

  • Antony Watts 18th Jun '17 - 8:52am

    To quote a commenter in the Guardian today,

    ” Creeping privatisation of all the utilities, the race to the bottom of wages, exhorbitant council tax for few services, the insecurity and huge rents payable, houses only available to those youngsters lucky enough to have reasonable jobs and the bank of mum and dad for deposits, all these things have been visited on us gradually. We now see the disastrous cumulative effect on society. I have never felt so depressed and helpless about our collective future. Please let us get a government which is on the side of its people and actually serves their interests, rather than the asset stripping bastards we have in power at the moment. I’m hoping they’re in their last days but they cling on. Goodness knows what Brexit will bring for us all.”

    LibsDems need to get actively, strongly and noisily behind policies to attack this. NOW.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Jun '17 - 9:18am

    Caron, your article is entitled “How does the party recover after a bruising week?”. Sadly, I am afraid the effect of your article, and other similar articles, is to make recovery more difficult.
    Naturally we have a right to ask questions about what happened. And if there was real evidence that Tim Farron had been bullied into resigning, then most of us would be rightly angry. But you do not present any real evidence that this was the case.
    Your article seems to be all rumour, speculation and hearsay. I realise you have spoken to people who may be in a position to know what happened. But in the case of Brian Paddick, it seems, from his comment, that you may have twisted and misrepresented what he actually said to you, so this casts doubt on other claims in your article too.
    All that we really know is that a few senior members of the party seem to have visited Tim Farron and expressed a view that he should stand down as leader. There does not seem to be any evidence that they bullied him in any way. They were entitled to express their views. They probably genuinely believed that Tim Farron’s leadership was damaging the party. If this is what they believed, perhaps they were right to speak to Tim as they did. If Paddy Ashdown was indeed one of them, I am sure he loves the party just as passionately as Tim Farron does, and he deserved to be allowed to express his view and to be listened to.
    Sadly, there is evidence that Tim Farron’s leadership has damaged the party, and not
    just, or even mainly, because of speculation about his faith. Paddy Ashdown and others would have been genuinely concerned about this.

  • Bill MacCormick 18th Jun '17 - 9:57am

    If Mark Pack’s survey is even remotely accurate ( then Tim did the right thing. I only wish those who advised him on strategy and messaging were as honourable.

  • drew tinsley 18th Jun '17 - 10:00am

    Sorry Lord Paddick I do not believe you had nothing to do with Tim’s resignation; your actions don’t match your words, but your words do match your actions, unlike what I have seen and heard of/from Tim. The timing is just too coincidental, even before I heard the rumours of other unelected persons involvement, it did seem to me (and my wife), something else was probably going on behind the scenes.
    I have been wondering if the LD’s are the right place for me and other christians after this, but thank you Caron, for reassuring me there are others equally disappointed if not annoyed about this whole fiasco.
    I do however wonder if we now need to remove the united from our lists of values.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Jun '17 - 10:25am

    Brian Paddick: Who do you want to be the next leader?

  • Russell Kent 18th Jun '17 - 10:28am

    He said, she said. The whole thread reads like a sixth form quasi-debate. No wonder we are in disarry. Any Tory or Labour supporter reading this must be thinking “Lubbly Jubbly”.

    We are supposed to be a centrist Liberal party. Doesn’t seem so at the moment. We will we see a “Night of the Long Knives”

  • Go for it Drew, it’s what so many of us are now thinking and saying and we’re not going to be silenced by the anti Tim brigade on here.

  • The title of this article is – How does the party recover…………?

    Well, I’ve tried to encourage 2 things over the last couple of weeks:
    1) for the party to discover their “Why” that the majority can get behind
    2) that a jigsaw is assembled from the electorate themselves and then policies/campaigns are chosen in line with Lib Dem Values that resonate, rather than the party trying second guess what the electorate may buy into.

    Bill McCormick has posted a link above which shows that Tim maybe indeed have done the right thing?

    What is even more interesting is the link posted this morning by Mark Pack on his website

    If this is correct (and he issues the caveat that more research over the summer needs to be done to confirm this), this could be a game changer.
    I admit to being stunned by this survey.

    But as John Curtice always shows, don’t dismiss what the evidence is telling you.

  • Hear hear, Antony Watts. To just oppose the obvious trends, and needs in our and other societies in the search for some meaningless “centrism” would just be self-defeating and wrong. We need urgently to accept, and promote in society that we need to spend a lot more on collective enterprise (ie a lot less on individual wants) and also to cooperate more internationally on the huge issues confronting all people. This, of course means that Brexit cannot be allowed to stand. The EU stands as a beacon, an exemplar, to democratic supranationalism. To duck out at this stage would be an act of supreme irresponsibilty. Tim has stood up as far as politically possible for these ideas. We should not be put off by a polarising general election from pursuing these positive hopeful ideas for the future.

  • Thomas Shakespeare 18th Jun '17 - 11:14am

    David and Drew, I was shocked by attacks on Tim’s faith – I really don’t see how you can ask a Christian to judge others and determine sin. However, the election results were poor by Tim’s own benchmark if eighteen seats. In addition he should have made it crystal clear to young people growing up that being gay is normal.

  • A Social Liberal 18th Jun '17 - 12:05pm

    Mark Packs survey wasn’t of the whole membership but of his readership. The respondents were just 2% of our members. Further, apparently, Dr Packs readers were only given hours to respond. Now, I don’t know about you but, as a Farron supporter, I would have been far too bruised and battered to have filled out a survey and, on being told we only had until midnight to return it, would have deleted the email. We also have to ask about the makeup of Dr Packs readership – are they mainly economic liberals, social liberals or a mixture of the two?

    But the main thing I get from the poll (because it is a poll and not a survey), is that 2% of the membership expressed an opinion so only 66% of 2209 members think that Tim was right to resign.

  • Sue Sutherland 18th Jun '17 - 12:31pm

    How do we recover?
    1. Tim agrees to remain as leader for one year but he’s then going, so we can analyse the election results properly and also distance ourselves properly from Co- alition by taking action such as suggested below.

    2. Have a special conference to determine which way the party wants to move. In other words the broad thrust of policies based on our beliefs. I hope that this would put clear water between the party now and some of the Coalition policies that seemed to go against our principles.

    3. Accept Tim’s resignation and elect a leader from those with experience (i.e. Who participated in Coalition) expecting each one to agree to this special conference ( and other forms of member consultation) and promise to hold it within 6 months.

    In fact as I’m writing I realise that the timing could mean that it forms part of the Autumn conference, preceding any policy discussions, which would make it less expensive for the party.

    I’m suggesting this because I don’t see how we can form policies without having common ground first. I think austerity is dead in the water after the election and many people were attracted to Labour’s policies even though they were Remainers. If there is a movement towards a second referendum as Mark Pack suggests we would be foolish to abandon this, but I think we need to sort out this economic Liberals versus social Liberals business otherwise any conflict like the one we are going through is going to be exacerbated by mistrust that one or other of these factions is going to try to take over the party.

  • @Sue Sutherland
    That appears practical and sensible to me.

    Also, once the ‘Why” (the common ground which does not lead to fights between social and economic wings of the party with any luck :-), is agreed), how that is communicated to the electorate becomes key.

    This survey appears to suggest that the issue may not have been the size of the pool, but was the party’s ability to capitalise on it?

    That is a ‘light bulb” moment because if true suggests, that the issue (yes a labour squeeze almost certainly played a part in the final couple of weeks) was maybe not the message, but how and by whom the message was delivered?

  • Thanks for this article Caron, giving us some more reliable insights, and an opportunity to air concerns.

    I recall discussions away from this site prior to the election on what Tim would do afterwards. There was a sense that he was too vulnerable to attack, and yet without a decent increase in MPs, who would replace him? And then with a decent increase, was there a need? We ended up with a respectable increase, giving the party hope in terms of succession planning (apols for the corporate speak).

    IMO, the announcement of a deputy leader was the right one for the time-being, and we should have stuck with that. I think it would have been an ideal position for someone like Jo Swinson to take – taking the pressure off of Tim, and giving the party some time to breathe while we took stock of the election, and give our new MPs a chance to get stuck in, while the Tories try to deal with the negative publicity, and Labour realise they didn’t actually win. A resignation right now was a poor move tactically, and sends out the wrong signals.

    Now we have to decide on a new leader, and I’m torn. I was right behind Jo as deputy leader, and as a future leader, but I wanted her to have the chance to develop her skills, reputation and wider public image before the extra-long knives come out. But realistically, it’s a choice between someone like Jo and one of the elder statesmen, who are more likely to be ignored by the media than abused.

    Would it be too crazy to go down the route of the Greens and have a joint-leader? Probably – that came across as a gimmick, albeit quite an effective one for getting media coverage.

    I feel like Tim resigning now has boxed us into a corner, and moaning about it won’t help. Whatever we do, we need to realise that we simply don’t have enough MPs to be changing leaders every couple of years, and we need to remember that the way the print, tv and social media works now means that we can never expect any leader to be without criticism. We need to have both the gumption and backbone to support our leaders when they are subject to unfair, disproportionate and contrived abuse from people who don’t care for truth and only want to distract from our policies.

  • Sue Sutherland 18th Jun '17 - 1:49pm

    Sorry if I caused the confusion but the survey wasn’t conducted by Mark Pack and wasn’t of Lib Dem members if you follow the link you’ll find it.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Jun '17 - 1:54pm


    I regularly agree with you not here though.

    There can be no one off economic vs social liberals conference as if a contest.

    People think I am an economic liberal, so called, here,because they are too the left of me. Well,to them, compared with them, I am.

    To George Osbourne , or David Cameron , compared to them , I am left.

    To John Redwood, or Norman Tebbit, compared to them , far left !!!

    I am a Liberal, social Liberal, social democrat , and Liberal Democrat.

    My favourite people in political history are , firstly Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy, then, Hugh Gaitskell and Jo Grimond.

    I do not want definitions and labels and one off decisions at conferences.

    I believe we need to do what must be my favourite man ever in our party for leadership and thus perhaps my hero more, who shared my birthday, or I his, Sir Henry Campbell -Bannerman won without one sided decisions of what direction or wing of the party won, but with a unifying programme , uniting party and country !

  • Bernard Aris 18th Jun '17 - 2:21pm

    I believe Caron has a well-sourced article.
    I just wish somebody from the party top finally steps out and tells us, ordinary party members recovering from weeks of hard campaigning, what really has gone on in the past months; because if there was a group of Lords and luminaries, especially Paddy who knows how it feels to fight yourself and a wounded party out of a tight corner, it would be absolutely scandalous if they hade come together only after the election. So I firmly believe there was an undercurrent, grumbling groups, who surfaced after the election.

    To whom it may concern at the top of the party and all those LibDem Lords & Ladies with supposedly years of experience in a third party struggling in a formally “two party system”: please help us clear up the mess and possibly mutual suspicion caused by not knowing what really went on, who was involved, and if they sprung their resignation demand on Tim (himself recovering from a well-fought campaign) by surprise after the election, or if there had been soundings, talks beforehand.

  • @ Lorenzo
    “…………..but with a unifying programme , uniting party and country!”

    Hi Lorenzo
    My challenge back would be, I guess, as long as Brexit is ongoing, unifying the country would appear to be extremely difficult, some may say impossible?

    Maybe the best the Lib Dem’s can hope for in the short/medium term is to attempt to unify the party (or at least present a united front) to present their vision of the country to their target audience (open and tolerant etc) in a way that would grab attention – Why, How, What in that order by a messenger who is held in high regard by the target part of the electorate (as well as the party), if that person exists.

    The logistics of how and by whom that is done is open to debate, but I would think needs to be based on robust research as to what would hold the party together and enough of the target audience would agree with (as well as what the party may desire)

    I agree the last few days have not helped.
    However, the data surely needs to drive strategy as well as the wishes of competing parts of the party?

    BTW, there are 2 polls which I think is causing confusion above (both linked higher up but I’ll copy both here too).
    1. Mark’s poll re Tim – right to resign/support for potential leaders:

    2. The survation (Mail on Sunday poll on Mark’s website (but not carried out by him) re the second referendum:

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Jun '17 - 3:29pm

    Mike S

    Would be great to know your name, you are one on here who in recent period has contributed much , we are in agreement nearly always .

    I think with the common sense mainstream approach you and I and most would want and the right leader now we can make real inroads.

    We should continue to advance the need for the referendum on a deal, not oppose Brexit, argue for a new EU attitude to freedom of movement , to be limited freedom of labour on proof of the need for that labour.

    We explain that those things we did in coalition we are glad we did were to help the country.

    Those things we did we would have liked not to were because we were tied, hampered, one fifth of the clout!

    We explain how the country , despite those things we did not like then either, has moved to the right , to chaos and division.

    We advise the public to advise us. We listen . We learn.

    We provide the radical and moderate policies, bolder on spending and individual empowerment in health, education, welfare.

    We show our love of this country by a resolutely pro UK and Scotland involved more.

    We establish far greater ties with the extraordinary Alliance party of Northern Ireland , and show how outrageous it was they were not in debates , the parties from there, if the other two countries , Wales and Scotland were, demonstrating the non sectarian qualities of Alliance , compared to the DUP mess , the Tories have .

    We show a very steady and mainstream approach to security and defence , less knee jerk on civil liberties, strong as ever on that but understanding the mood for safety needs new ideas , not booing all the time .

    We get out into the country , the squares , the localities, stalls, music, speaking, not leaflets ,in doors, meeting people beyond doorstepping them, but that better than endless paper trail , and mainly , far more input in the internet , discussion!

    We target older people , those who love this country and want it fair but dislike the May Tories and distrust the Corbyn Labour !

    We target young people , explaining it is because we care about their and all our future we do not promise the earth now, but have exciting ideas.

    We advance personal liberalism but not self indulgent libertarianism

    Tough on hard drug dealers, tough on rapists and murders, tough on those who do real harm.

    We give me a job in our national party !

  • paul barker 18th Jun '17 - 4:01pm

    To answer Carons question, I think the first step is to look outside The Party.
    The UK has suffered a series of tragedies in the last few Weeks with dozens of innocents killed. The whole Country is grieving & angry. As a Party we need to play our part & to do that we have to put the whole issue of Tims Resignation to one side for now. Perhaps some sort of Party Enquiry could be set up ?
    For now we need to unite round our Leader (its still Tim !) & look forward. The coming Leadership contest could be really good for us if everyone avoids personal attacks & concentrate on the Candidates visions for our future.

  • Katharine Pindar 18th Jun '17 - 4:28pm

    Mark Pack apparently did a survey of Lib Dem members, so I read above, and 2209 people expressed their opinion about actual and potential Lib Dem leaders. Who are these 2209 people, a tiny proportion of the membership? I’ve never heard of this survey, even though I do have a Facebook and a Twitter account, so how are these members selected? Isn’t there a danger that readers of this thread will think that this is a definitive account of party feeling? Please can we have a fair evaluation of Tim’s two years as Leader and not just a snap-shot of the opinions of a minority.

  • David Allen 18th Jun '17 - 4:44pm

    Paul Barker is right – The first thing we will need to do is to react sensibly and as a united party to the national storms soon to hit. We don’t know what these will be but here are some possibilities:

    Breakdown of Tory / DUP talks

    Coronation of new Tory minority government leader (Boris?)

    Stalemate in Brexit negotiations – Barnier walks away and tells UK “come back when you are able to make a serious proposal”

    Tories call Corbyn’s bluff and hand him opportunity to run a minority government (then, probably, make it impossible for him to do so)

    Parliamentary paralysis, no budget, money runs out, run on the pound

    Marches and riots demand a Government of National Unity (or for army to step in)

    – When storms like this hit, might it be useful for us to have some ideas to contribute? Or, shall we just keep schtumm and accept that we don’t matter?

  • Andrew McCaig 18th Jun '17 - 5:00pm

    Mark Pack’s survey was of people who subscribe to his Newswire.. I recommend it if you are interested in campaigning. A similar survey predicted the last Leadership election pretty accurately.

    It is no more a poll than are comments on here, although it did have the benefit of being an anonymous survey rather than a set of comments open to counter comments by other people…

  • ………………….How does the party recover after a bruising week?………..

    By stopping throwing petrol onto the fire…It is too soon to KNOW what actually happened; all we have are rumours and ‘Chinese Whispers’ …

    May I suggest, in this period of a national tragedy, that we keep our own counsel…In the fullness of time the truth will out; it always does….

  • Katharine Pindar 18th Jun '17 - 5:23pm

    It’s great to look forward as several people are doing above, but practical politics, folks. Brexit talks begin tomorrow and the Queen’s Speech is I think on Wednesday. We need concerted effort from our MPs to react to these events, and they are a new group which Tim needs to marshall . We need him as effective leader still. Tory writers are saying that Mrs May has no future and won’t last long, and it makes no sense for the Liberal Democrats to be changing leaders just when the government is all at sea. We should ask Tim to shoulder the burden for a while longer – perhaps till next February – and put off the leadership election until then. I have written to Sal Brinton to ask for her support for this plan.

    If agreed it will allow time for a proper evaluation of Tim’s leadership over the two years and analysis of the election campaign to take place. I think comments such as ‘there is evidence that Tim Farron’s leadership has damaged the party’ are fatuous, since there is no objective evaluation as yet. If Tim stays as leader in the challenging months ahead, as an experienced rather than an untried leader, he may enhance his own reputation, and he will surely continue to advance our party’s growth and standing. These months will be a great opportunity as well as a challenge for our party, which we should face up to now and cease introspection, because the country needs our real strength and we should offer it I believe under Tim’s leadership.

  • @ Caron “How does the party recover after a bruising week?”

    One has to question whether a party that elected its Leader by one member one vote less than two years ago apparently defenestrates said Leader through the action of a self selecting small group of unelected members of the House of Lords can recover……..

    And after after a bruising week ?

    Yes, for the people of Grenfell Flats – but whom the said self selecting group of Perrs of the Realm were apparently too self indulgent to notice.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Jun '17 - 5:41pm

    Katharine, I understand that you feel very unhappy about Tim Farron’s resignation, but he has made a decision, and trying to make him change his mind really will not help either him or the party.

  • Peter Brand 18th Jun '17 - 6:41pm

    @Brian Paddick
    You said you resigned because of your concerns about Tim’s views on some issues. Now that Tim has resigned, why have you not withdrawn your resignation? Was there some other reason, that you have not disclosed, why you resigned?

  • LibDemDavid 18th Jun '17 - 6:54pm

    Katharine Pindar – I agree with you writing to Sal Brinton about Tim’s continuing leadership as I have done also asking for a full and detailed explanation as to the circumstances leading up to his resignation. I think the Party needs a transparent FOI type apparatus so that we the members, in what it supposed to be a democratic party, can see that unelected politicians can be held to account for their behaviour and actions. Also do not be put off by people dictating to you what you should do like Ms Crosland above, many are Orange Bookers and on the wing of the party opposed to social justice which I continue to hope and pray is on the decline.

  • Peter Brand 18th Jun '17 - 7:10pm

    Apologies if I have missed it, but very few if any seem to be concerned that we may be facing another general election in a couple of months. I wonder whether this is at least part of the reason for the apparent rush that Tim resigned in.

  • Jim Alexander 18th Jun '17 - 7:13pm

    Ok If Im reading this correctly Senior Party Members in effect told Tim Farron to resign – our performance in the GE was way short of what we should have expected – in a similar % vote from the Electorate Nick Glegg took full responsibility apologised and stepped down – which is what you do in these circumstance

    Tim Farron didn’t therefore it was pointed out to him that his position was untenable

    However unless someone on the “inside” can correct me – it had nothing to do with his religious views and everything to do with his performance in The GE

    So apart from Brian Paddick resigning over Tims views on Gay Relationships ( which is fully understandable ) then if Im reading the article correctly – the only person who is mentioning his religious views is Tim Farron – plus the strange thing in his speech is that he doesn’t mention the GE results at all

    As for the increase in Party Membership it had pretty much doubled prior to Tim Farron being Leader – Brexit added to the numbers lets stick to facts as opposed to conspiracy and gossip

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Jun '17 - 7:32pm

    LibDemDavid, I’m pretty sure I’m not an “Orange Booker”, and I have no idea why you think I am. Your assumptions about me are rather insulting. I feel passionately about social justice. One of my criticisms of the direction the party has taken under Tim Farron is that there has not been enough focus on social justice, with the EU being presented as more important than any other issue (I realise this strategy may not have been entirely Tim Farron’s decision). When I said it was not in the best interests of Tim or the party to try to persuade him to stay on, I was genuinely thinking of Tim as well as the party. Trying to guilt trip him into staying on doesn’t seem fair. It seems ironic that people who have been protesting at Tim being allegedly pressurised into standing down by senior members of the party, now seem to be suggesting he should be pressurised into staying on by other senior members of the party, like Sal Brinton.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Jun '17 - 7:56pm


    Please never be worried that some call you Orangebooker, see it as an alternative to the Manbooker prize for literature !

    You and I , with the exception of defence , agree on most things.

    I get called things once in a while, I did in Labour when younger in my boyhood Kinnock backing years.

    Those with views that are vociferous and vacuous always shout the loudest.

    I am mainly concerned about social justice too.

    I imagine justice as well as social justice is what motivated Norman Lamb to become a lawyer who worked for the little man and woman, as they say across the pond, often, in employment law, and being an early member of both the SDP as well as a Liberal party member , and working for Shirley Williams in the Hof C before he was even an mp !!!

    There are always those who divide and those who unite.

    I know my values and yours , it is brilliant to be in the party with you and those like you.

  • Peter Andrews 18th Jun '17 - 11:03pm

    I am also furious about how this was handled and greatly fear ending up with a Leader with views that are unacceptable to a much wider section of our party members and supporters such as withdrawing from our opposition to Brexit.

  • To those complaining about Mark Pack’s survey, Mark is a long-standing party member/activist who runs a blog, and as part of that he produces a monthly newsletter called LibDem Newswire. It is purely his own work, and not an official organ of the party, and it is open to anyone to sign up to. The fact he can get over 2000 members to respond to a poll over just a few days says quite a lot about how good it is. He explains his methodology, which I think is very sound. To anyone here who doesn’t know about Newswire, my advice would be to visit Mark’s blog and sign up. That way you can tale part in the next survey and make it even more representative.

  • Katharine Pindar 19th Jun '17 - 12:53am

    LibDemDavid, thank you for your support, I have just written a long email to Tim to explain why I and many other members think it would be good if he will withdraw his resignation for the time being. There is a great deal of work for our Parliamentary party to do in this time of national crisis, and Tim can organize them more effectively if he remains the recognised leader (and all the better if he has an able deputy, especially now that Nick Clegg is out). I know that this is a lot to ask of Tim, but I am sure he will be up to it, perhaps helped by Christian prayers. As people have said, there could be another election in a few months, and again it would be good to have an experienced leader in charge if so; meantime, we have a chance of influencing national policy for the better in the circumstances of the hung Parliament and weak PM who is herself likely to face a leadership challenge before long.
    Andrew McCaig, you wrote that Tim had ‘suffered a long campaign of vilification in the right-wing press over Brexit’ and you seemed to think this condemned him; surely, on the contrary, in upholding our party policy so resolutely he was admirable. Catherine, sorry, but I think you write foolishly about Tim above, and being patronising doesn’t help your case. But anyway, we shall see what the new week brings.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 19th Jun '17 - 4:17am

    Lorenzo, thank you 🙂

  • Dave Orbison 19th Jun '17 - 8:23am

    Not quite sure what to make of the negative comments towards Brian Paddock and people’s willingness to dismiss his account of events. Someone even referred to him ‘flouncing’. But it’s all a bit ugly.

  • Katharine Pindar 19th Jun ’17 – 12:53am…….. I have just written a long email to Tim to explain why I and many other members think it would be good if he will withdraw his resignation for the time being………..

    I don’t believe that is a solution. It would just make the party look even more disorganised and divided…What I see on LDV is a perfect example of the naval ditty about, “When in danger, or in doubt, yell and scream and jump about…etc”…

  • Richard Underhill 19th Jun '17 - 10:32am

    No reply from Brian Paddick, but every member will have a vote.
    Before standing for President Tim Farron consulted Paddy Ashdown, who was preparing for a large fringe meeting at federal conference. As I was going in to Paddy’s meeting Tim came out. I greeted him with “Mr. President!” He made no reply. I also collected some signatures for his re-election, under the then rules, helping his press spokesman. For a former leader to behave as a kingmaker, or the opposite, is disappointing. He should recall what David Steel said and what Judy Steel wrote in the ‘women’s page’ of the Independent.
    Nick Clegg was on Radio 4 Today programme on 19/6/2017 and gave us a useful soundbite that the Brexit negotiations are like a “Rubik’s cube’.
    Daniel Hannon MEP (Tory Eurosceptic, southeast England) said “I agree with Nick” in respect of EFTA. Honest. He did.

  • Katharine Pindar 19th Jun '17 - 4:07pm

    expats, if Tim were to say that on further consideration, in view of the parlous state of the country and the lack of credible government at the moment, it is a time for the Liberal Democrats to remain strongly focused on the major contributions the party has to make and therefore he will suspend his resignation at the request of many party members, then I think that will carry conviction. It is the idea that the Lib Dems are bothering to change their leader at all, at a time when the party of hate is wishing it could change theirs and is horribly divided, that seems nonsensical, not Tim reverting to his post-election decision to carry on.
    Oh, and the Federal Board can concentrate on arranging for a deputy leader to be elected by members, who will then probably be available when Tim and the party agree that it is an appropriate time for him to step down, and who can meantime share the burden with Tim.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 19th Jun '17 - 11:47pm

    Katharine, I am genuinely very sorry if I offended you. I certainly did not intend to be patronising, and I’m not sure which of my comments you are referring to here, nor am I sure in which comment you think I “talk foolishly”. Incidentally, one of the best ways we can “recover from a bruising week” is to all be a bit kinder to each other. I do think it would be a bit nicer to say “I disagree with your comment”, than to say “you talk foolishly”. We all need to listen to each other’s views with respect, even when disagreeing.

  • Katharine Pindar 19th Jun ’17 – 4:07pm……………..expats, if Tim were to say that on further consideration, in view of the parlous state of the country and the lack of credible government at the moment, it is a time for the Liberal Democrats to remain strongly focused on the major contributions the party has to make and therefore he will suspend his resignation at the request of many party members, then I think that will carry conviction……………….

    All that would do is to show that the party has NO alternative leaders…What does that say about the rest of our MPs?
    It also raises the question that why, when, as you say, “the country is in a parlous state with a lack of credible government” did Tim choose that moment to resign in the first place?

  • Katharine Pindar 20th Jun '17 - 3:23pm

    expats, not that the party has NO alternative leaders, but they are obviously not experienced in leadership, and this is a time of both need and of opportunity for an experienced Liberal Democrat leader. Moreover the candidates who held office during the Coalition years will inevitably be questioned over how they voted in contentious matters, which will be a divisive topic. However, nothing more can be done unless Tim will reconsider, for the sake of ordinary members, for the sake of the party’s internal strength and external image, and for the sake of our battered and bewildered country.

    Catherine, thank you. I was not referring to just one of your comments, but I will be kinder in future.

  • Katherine, I admire your tenacity but I’m afraid that ship has sailed. I just don’t see anything credible about Tim rescinding his resignation, ” for the national interest”, as if he were some conquering hero. The public at large do not view him in that view. He’d be a national laughing stock in no time. None of us want that.

  • Katharine Pindar 21st Jun '17 - 6:59pm

    I have just watched, with sadness, most of the Commons debate on the Queen’s Speech, waiting three hours for Tim to be heard, when he seemed to speak with his usual confidence. However, the most effective speech I heard was the one preceding Tim’s. when Kenneth Clarke spoke with calm clarity and impeccable logic on the value of staying in both the EU and the Customs Union, pointing out how much the country gains from EU-arranged trade deals, and how the prospects of a trade deal with the USA to import their beef, and with New Zealand to import their lamb, is not likely to be favoured by our farmers. I hope the inter-party consultations in the Commons to arrange strategy to oppose the Queen’s Speech on Brexit will be led by Ken Clarke, since Nick Clegg is no longer with us, and Tim has surrendered leadership.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Jun '17 - 7:29pm

    Ken Clarke MP is still a conservative, but the former whip, former health secretary, former education secretary, former home secretary, former chancellor of the exchequer, former Lord Chancellor has a lot of experience which should be heard. The jazz loving widower had intended to retire at the next general election and cannot easily be threatened by tory whips. He has written an autobiography called ” a kind of blue”. He has also said that he has a lot of support from “people who don’t vote conservative” (unfortunately for him).
    He went to Ronnie Scott’s jazz club with John Prescott who, unkindly said “how many hospitals have you closed recently?” and got the amiable reply “none in your neck of the woods”.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Jun '17 - 7:38pm

    Ken Clarke ran for Tory leader with the support of John Redwood, showing the (incredible) breadth of opinion within the tory parliamentary party. Didn’t win.

  • Katharine Pindar 22nd Jun '17 - 12:23pm

    Tim has not surrendered leadership in practice, since he replied to the Queen’s Speech yesterday presumably as Lib Dem leader. This points to an absurdity: he has resigned, so he is no longer leader, but he suspended his resignation until July 20, so he is still leader. I suggest you cannot be a half-in half-out leader, and it is anyway highly undesirable now when the political situation demands leadership, yet the Prime Minister has been referred to by former Tory allies as a ‘zombie leader’. We do not want any more of them. Tim is actually now acting leader, and he should be named and recognised as such. And it would be desirable if he continued as Acting Leader during this period of high political uncertainty and difficulty. Our President and Federal Board should call off the proposed leadership election until a more suitable time, perhaps in the New Year. Meantime Tim can continue his vital work for the party and the country, with the assistance of his able new deputy. It would not be wise to have an inexperienced leader in position to face the challenges arising from the fluid parliamentary situation and seize the opportunities it offers our party.

    Phyllis, I think the phrase ‘That ship has sailed’ has been used about the possibility of the country averting Brexit by agreement of Parliament or through decision of the people in a referendum on the deal. Obviously prematurely, possibly quite wrongly.

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