Liberal Democrat Leadership: Young activists’ letters of support for Farron and Lamb – and a bit of controversy too

Liberal Youth at Eastleigh - Some rights reserved by Helen Duffett

Young activists have written open letters in support of the respective candidates in  the Liberal Democrat leadership contest.

Earlier this week, 50 young activists, including Sam Bennett, the chair of IR Cymru, Liberal Youth Executive members and members from Scotland, England and Wales, wrote an open letter of support for Tim, saying:

The Liberal Democrats have always been a party for young people, with our progressive views on protecting human rights, fighting climate change and promoting social justice.

These things matter, but to make a difference, the Liberal Democrats have to become winners again.

To do this we need someone who can connect with, and earn the trust of, young people. We need a strong voice, standing up to the backwards, regressive attitudes of our opponents.

For these reasons, we are backing Tim Farron for leader.

Tim started his political life in student politics. He understands how to connect with young audiences and will engage with them literally on their own turf. In his constituency his “football surgeries” are legendary, giving young people the chance to have a kick about and discuss issues young people face. He has won awards for his use of social media because he is unafraid to answer critics and inspire many young activists online.

We believe that Tim’s infectious enthusiasm and passionate campaigning make him a great champion for young people, and the right person to lead the Lib Dem fight back.

Today’s Independent features a letter from 28 of them, including the co-chairs of Liberal Youth Scotland, Hannah Bettsworth and Euan Davidson and the chair of Liberal Youth Alex Harding, giving their reasons for supporting Norman Lamb.

They say:

It is wonderful to see so many respected former Parliamentarians supporting Norman Lamb for Liberal Democrat leader. Just as Norman has inspired his current and former colleagues in Westminster, he is also inspiring the next generation of campaigners.

Norman Lamb’s plans for the future of our party, laid out in his recently published online book, place young people at the heart of the Liberal Democrat fight back.

He recognises that young people are liberals, and has the policy instincts – on mental health, drug policy reform and equalities – to ensure that they become Liberal Democrats too.

But Norman doesn’t just talk about young people – he listens to us too. Our young members are not only hardworking campaigners – they also have unique skills and perspectives just as the rest of the party does. We believe that Norman will ensure that young members are placed at the heart of the party, and that he will help us grow our movement among both students and non-students.

As young Liberal Democrat members across England, Scotland and Wales, we urge fellow young liberals to back Norman. He is the candidate best placed to help us rebuild as a liberal, progressive movement for change.

There’s a slight bit of controversy because the letter backing Farron originally went to the Independent, as Federal Executive member Joshua Dixon tweeted:

It may well be that the Independent is just being even-handed after their endorsement of Tim to be leader last week:

There is indeed a real purpose and point to the Liberal Democrats, and Britain would be weaker without them. Moreover, there is still a unique and distinctively liberal agenda which neither Labour nor the Tories have the courage to implement. This newspaper doesn’t have a vote in the postal ballot currently with party members, but for those reasons, if we did, we would cast our vote for Tim Farron.

Update: Since publication a further 30 young people have signed up to Norman’s letter, bringing the total to 58.

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6 Comments

  • Peter Watson 10th Jul '15 - 10:58pm

    It’s an interesting start to the Normtroopers’ letter since it is thanks in no small part to Norman Lamb that the Lib Dems have “so many respected former Parliamentarians”.

  • Sammy O'Neill 11th Jul '15 - 12:31am

    @PeterWatson

    Phrases such as “Normtroopers” are wholly unnecessary and damaging to party relations. Do you actually want those who have opted to support Norman to still be in the party if Farron wins? If so, show them some basic respect perhaps.

  • Sammy, it’s what they call themselves.

  • Sammy O'Neill 11th Jul '15 - 2:01am

    @Phyllis

    I haven’t come across the phrase until now. If that is the case, then fair enough I apologise to Peter. Though regardless who originated it, it’s a rather unfortunate (and perhaps in my view best avoided) name.

  • Hi Sammy, I came across it on LDV a few days ago here:

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-on-joining-the-liberal-democrats-and-being-a-normtrooper-46486.html

    And if you look at Twitter, there is a #normtroopers which is widely used by Norman’s supporters. I agree with you that it’s an unfortunate name and someone did make the point on LDV that it’s best to avoid close scrutiny of the name, but I honestly think it’s too far gone now to change it, especially as people have self-styled themselves by that name.

  • Peter Watson 11th Jul '15 - 6:18pm

    @Sammy O’Neill As has already been mentioned, “normtroopers” is the sobriquet that supporters of Norman Lamb chose for themselves. A misguided choice of name is the least of their mistakes 😉

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