Norman Lamb MP writes – Trust in People: Why I’m standing for party leader

NormanLambThese are devastating results for the Liberal Democrats. All of us are completely shell shocked.

All party members must have a say in our future strategy and new leader. I have clear views on what we need to do and am intending to stand for leader.

I am my own person, a conviction politician. I am impatient to tackle injustice.

In my role as minister, I pursued our Liberal agenda, making the case as powerfully as I could for equality for those facing mental ill health challenges and to end the outrageous discrimination within the NHS. I found myself constantly frustrated but was unrelenting in my pursuit of every example of unfair treatment.

My abiding memory is of families of people with learning disability who told me how they felt completely ignored by public and private bodies that exist to protect their interests. I demanded that they were heard by those making these decisions.

As a result we have proposals in a Green Paper for giving new rights to people with learning disability and those with autism and severe and enduring mental health problems.

And I was thrilled that my plan to secure equal rights of access to treatment for people suffering mental ill health became a top manifesto commitment.

Standing up for the powerless and speaking truth to power is at the heart of my passion for Liberalism.

In a world where many of our fellow citizens are powerless and disenfranchised it is critical now that we define more clearly what modern Liberalism means in these terms.

So along with the need to ensure that our public services give power directly to people, we must set out other Liberal priorities. Here are my five key areas for starters. More will follow.

First, we must commit to transform educational attainment for those who have been let down by the system, because it is an outrage that still in today’s Britain, your chances in life are too often determined by the circumstances of your birth.

Second, ending economic unfairness must be a key driver for our party, because the growing gulf between the super rich and everyone else destroys hope and corrupts our social fabric.

Third, we must shift tax from employment income to unearned wealth because this is the fairest and most effective way to promote enterprise, innovation and a dynamic competitive economy.

Fourth, we have to provide real answers for how to protect, sustain and enhance key public services because public provision is the fairest way of meeting the demands that a technologically transforming world will place on our country. For example, just as I argued as a minister, change in the NHS must now be democratically accountable from the bottom up, not imposed by Whitehall. We have tested that approach to destruction.

Fifth, we are a proudly internationalist party and we strongly believe in the UK playing its full part in the EU. But let’s apply the same critical faculties to unaccountable power in the EU as we must do to our own creaking institutions because we should never be happy with the status quo.

Finally, this election has exposed more than ever the outrage of our inadequate electoral system. For about one in four people to vote UKIP, Liberal Democrat or Green but these parties to be represented in Parliament by just 10 MPs is intolerable. We must work with others to break this system.

We need a vibrant leadership campaign, full of ideas, devoid of recrimination, but willing to examine where we went wrong so that we learn the lessons for the future. We have a mountain to climb. But we can again become a strong voice for Liberal Britain. We need an advocate who can communicate our case to the public with passion. I offer myself for that role and ask for your support.

Please visit to support my campaign.

* Norman Lamb is MP for North Norfolk and was Liberal Democrat Minister of State at the Department of Health until May 2015. He now chairs the Science and Technology Select Committee

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  • Liberal Crusader 12th May '15 - 1:27pm

    Did Norman Lamb rebel on anything during 5 years? Anything? Or did he said with the coalition at all times?

  • There are those who said the maximum no of seats would be 15. So not “everyone” is shell shocked.

  • Hello Norman, congratulations on winning your seat, and indeed for putting your name forward. I’m a Lib Dem councillor and met you briefly when you visited a GP surgery in my ward which had closed – we have just had in principle funding to reopen which is great news after a long campaign.

    However I’m undecided on who to vote for in the leadership. My worry is that you will find it difficult to get heard. We are no longer the 3rd party, we will have an almighty struggle just to get snippets in the media, and to be seen as relevant. The policies you are suggesting above seem safe and quite mainstream to me at first glance, but I’m not sure they are as distinctive as we need right now. Many of them have just been resoundingly rejected by the electorate. So my question to you is simply: why are you the candidate who can get a Liberal voice heard most loudly when we only have 8 MPs?

    Best wishes


    “The first Liberal Democrat to declare his intention to be the party’s new leader has conceded that Nick Clegg’s broken promise on university tuition “massively undermined” the trust of voters.

    Norman Lamb, the former care minister and one of only eight Lib Dem MPs in the new parliament, said the party had learned an extremely painful lesson from the tuition fees “debacle”.”

    Tuition fees: How Liberal Democrat MPs voted
    9 December 2010
    From the section UK Politics
    MPs have approved plans to raise tuition fees in England to a maximum of £9,000 but with the coalition’s majority reduced to 21. Here is a full list of how Lib Dem MPs voted:

    FOR – 28 MPs

    Norman Lamb

  • Geoffrey Payne 12th May '15 - 1:50pm

    First all of I am delighted you are standing. A contested leadership election will ensure we have the debate we need to come to terms with the general election results and help put together a vision looking forward to the next general election.
    The danger of writing lists is that you miss something out. The most glaring omissions being tackling climate change, whether we should replace Trident, and industrial democracy (which I understand is an area you specialise in).
    I would want to hear about your opinions of the record of the Coalition, particularly in relation to the benefit cuts, secret courts, NHS marketisation, intervention in Syria and Libya. I am sure I will find out in due course!
    I am told you are an economic liberal. That makes me less inclined to support you, so I look forward to finding out if that is true.

  • Sir Norfolk Passmore 12th May '15 - 1:56pm

    I think the knee-jerk response of some on this thread (particularly in recent days) to label those MPs who did their best to make the Coalition work as somehow “guilty” or not true liberals is profoundly misguided. Sadly, it’s coming out again on this thread.

    All our MPs chose to sit on the Government benches over the past five years, and it is far from obvious that our position would be any brighter had more chosen to distance themselves and avoid getting their hands dirty. Certainly, the electorate didn’t seem to discriminate between loyalists and others last week.

    Norman Lamb was plainly one of those MPs who tried to make it work. He was frankly an outstanding care minister, and I think that’s recognised well beyond our own party. And yes, he was loyal on the votes; he didn’t spend his time seeking to avoid office and duck responsibility. There’s nothing dishonourable in that, and it makes his views on where mistakes were made all the more worth listening to.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th May '15 - 1:57pm

    I agree with tpfkar that these policies seem a bit safe, but at the end of the day Farron reminds me of Ed Miliband. I like them both, but last time I checked they both shared the same economic analysis: that since the crash the centre ground has shifted left. Well, it doesn’t look like it has happened.

    Personally I want the Lib Dems to become more pro business, tougher on security and tougher rhetoric on immigration. Policy wise I think Lib Dems are fine on immigration, but sounding pro immigration is toxic. We should always be honest, but it is as though the party hides some of its popular policies because the membership are ashamed of them.

    I still think Lamb is the best, but as TCO and I were saying the other night: we need to reach out to blue collar workers and not just the traditional Lib Dem support base.

  • I am sorry Norman that statement does nothing to inspire me at all. It reads almost like a Party Council motion from the 1970s. Members want to be inspired to look forward to the future, they want leadership that helps to rebulid the party they don’t want to have to face again thinking about the last five year. Give us hope for the future not statemnets about how good a Minister you were.

  • Norman, I do like much of how you describe what our party should be about; “Standing up for the powerless and speaking truth to power is at the heart of my passion for Liberalism” seems a very good starting point for the renewal of our party.

    However although I can imagine what policies most of your points lead to, I’d like to know more precisely what you mean by “ending economic unfairness.” Tautologically ” unfairness” is a bad thing that everyone would want ending, so without some clarification this economic point is pretty meaningless.

  • @Sir Norfolk well said sir.

  • Sir Norfolk Passmore 12th May '15 - 2:15pm

    “Give us hope for the future not statemnets about how good a Minister you were.”

    Neil – might I politely suggest reading beyond the third paragraph of Norman’s piece?

    There’s nothing wrong with Norman pointing out that he got stuck in as a minister and had real achievements. His disadvantage in this campaign will perhaps be that he didn’t seek to remain semi-detatched during the past five years; his countervailing advantage is that he got some things done.

    But he does then set out five key issues for the future where he’d like to see us making waves as a party.

  • Peter Watson 12th May '15 - 2:17pm

    @Michael “The first Liberal Democrat to declare his intention to be the party’s new leader has conceded that Nick Clegg’s broken promise on university tuition “massively undermined” the trust of voters. Norman Lamb, the former care minister and one of only eight Lib Dem MPs in the new parliament, said the party had learned an extremely painful lesson from the tuition fees “debacle”.”
    What was Norman Lamb’s role in that?
    Was he a party whip whose job was to persuade other Lib Dems to break their pledge?
    Did he have “strong preference” to vote for the increase when even Nick Clegg considered abstaining? (
    To me it seems that Lamb was one of the authors of the debacle.

  • More of the same from Clegg’s PPS….I’m voting farron

  • “Norman Lamb was plainly one of those MPs who tried to make it work. ”

    I think that all 57 Lib Dem MPs tried to make it work. But a) he voted for the increase in tuition fees and he should at the very least acknowledge that and b) he was PPS to Nick Clegg – that is his right hand person from May 2010 until 3 February 2012 and c) He now concedes that university fees undermined trust in the Lib Dems – he at the very least has some explaining to do.

    I appreciate that tuition fees was a a long and difficult saga for everyone.

  • Richard Harris 12th May '15 - 2:39pm

    If there’s anything this party needs right now it’s someone that voted against the broken pledge on tuition fees. I would have thought anybody who voted for should know an apology or promise not to do it again is simply not enough.

  • “I am my own person, a conviction politician. I am impatient to tackle injustice”

    I cannot see how this can be squared with a record of voting for student fees, allowing the NHS reform and supporting a “party of IN” campaign for Europe.

  • @ Peter Watson
    In the article in the Telegraph, that you link to, Norman Lamb while parliamentary private secretary to Nick Clegg said, “My very strong preference, as is the case for Nick, is to vote in favour.”

    I don’t understand how someone who said that then and voted for the tuition fee increase and broke his personal pledge can ever restore trust in the party. I know it is too late to revoke the membership of the party of all 36 MPs who broke their pledge or even the 28 MPs who voted for the increase, but I would like to be able to say when asked, “We have a leader who didn’t break his word on tuition fees.”

    I agree with Richard Harris, “anybody who voted for should know an apology or promise not to do it again is simply not enough.”

  • I hope that on some thread somewhere LDV is making sure the other leadership candidate is being asked to account for his parliamentary voting record and to explain why he voted ‘NO’ to the Same Sex Couples Marriage Bill.

  • I firmly believe the Labour party would be mad to pick Cooper/Burnham as they need to break that link with ‘Labour’s mess’ in the electorate eye’s and we are in the exact same boat with anyone who broke the pledge.

  • Norman,
    would you say that there is much in your five points which an other Liberal Democrat candidate for the leadership would disagree with?

    In other words, is there anything here that marks you out as a more than average candidate?

    You have been a junior minister in the Health Department working to Jeremy Hunt after you replaced Paul Burstow — do you think that would be an advantage or a disadvantage in future elections if you were elected as leader?

  • It’s a good thing that the Party will have a clear choice to make between change and continuity. It will determine whether any lessons have been learned from the last five years culminating in 7 May; and it will tell us not only whether the Party will survive, but whether it deserves to survive.

  • @ D McKay


    Precisely the problem Miliband and Balls had with Labour’s economic legacy; they never lived down having their fingerprints all over it. Labour will look at Cooper and Burnham as powerful politicians with large powerbases in the party; the public will take a lot of persuading to not just see Mr Ball’s wife and Labour’s last health minister. Jarvis would have been a good candidate for them; possibly Kendall will be also, although she has little experience of having done a proper job.

    A fresh start means a clean break.

    Further, we also need someone able to inspire people in difficult circumstances, and with a bit of flair and imagination to attract what little press interest in us that there may be. The politest way to put it is to suggest that perhaps Norman, for all his considerable talents, is a little bit worthy, in the less flattering use of the term?

  • Steve Griffiths 12th May '15 - 3:51pm

    @Norman Lamb

    I congratulate you and your team for your success in re-election.

    However, I and suspect a good proportion of the more than 9000 new/re-joined members in the last few days, have appeared to help reverse the calamitous decline in Lib Dem fortunes. You are clearly the ‘more of the same’ candidate and we are looking for a change of direction. The great glaring omission from the ‘store’ you have set out above in the environment. I know of no greater threat to the life, health and happiness of the population, than the condition of this planet; strange for a former health minister.

  • This is a good statement from Norman Lamb and it is important that we have a contest of ideas and a settled consensus between the two political traditions that merged to form the Liberal Democrats – modern Liberal capitalism and the moderate social democratic wing of the Labour party that broke away to form the SDP in the late seventies.

    I have great respect for the work of both Norman Lamb and Tim Farron and have no preconceived preferences. I do endorse the comments of Sir Norfolk Passmore on this thread that Norman Lamb has been an outstanding care minister.

    We have been tested in government and ministers like Norman Lamb and Steve Webb have come through this period leaving an enduring legacy in mental health care and pensions reform that have left this country in a better place then they found it.

    The bottom line in this last election is that we have returned to the core vote that currently exists for the Liberal Democrats at both national and local level i.e. circa 8% of the electorate.

    There is always a popular desire for something better than what Tory or labour ideology can deliver, but to meet that desire the party needs to embed in its offer what conservatives understand very well. – to deliver high quality public services in education, health, policing and security and provide a safety net to support people in times of need requires a vibrant and successful economy.

    For a reforming national party, it is not about the size of the state, being centrist or centre-left, triangulation , coalitions or even voting reform – it is about radical ideas that inspire people in all walks of like.

    We had one such idea in 2010 that stood us in good stead – taking people on minimum wage out of paying tax altogether. We need many more for the future – to tackle the housing crisis, low wage growth, international competitiveness and wealth inequality – in an economically literate and credible manner.

  • Conor McGovern 12th May '15 - 3:53pm

    What we need is a leader who can build on our core values and reach out to instinctively liberal voters (socially and economically) across Britain, in all parties and none, with clear, bold, popular policies that address their needs and wishes in the face of low incomes and a creaking system that doesn’t work for them.
    We shouldn’t be afraid to work at any level – local or national, inside or outside government – to implement these policies without holding a bland, managerial line or making do with easy opposition and offering everything to everyone with a shopping list of populist pledges we’ll never have to implement.
    – As far as I can see, neither Norman Lamb nor Tim Farron apply to a big enough chunk of all that.

  • Clearly Norman was an effective minister and is a good constituency campaigner. However we cannot have as a leader of our party anyone who has no answer to the question “You pledged to your constituents that you would vote against any increase in tuition fees and then voted for an increase in tuition fees, why should we believe a single word you say now?”.

  • George Potter 12th May '15 - 4:59pm

    One question:

    How can you be a conviction politician and yet break a signed pledge to vote against any rise in tuition fees?

  • @George Potter

    You can’t be, but with only 8 MPs to choose from it’s a tough call. Some people would rather have a pragmatist than an idealogue. Of course, a pragmatist probably wouldn’t sign any pledges.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th May '15 - 5:05pm

    To those banging on about tuition fees: it is a problem, but we can’t have a “lowest common denominator” approach to leadership where mistakes are unforgivable, but someone having done not much noticeable (not Tim) is worthy of praise.

    Lots of people joined before the party knew who would take over from Clegg. I don’t think it is as big of a red line that people make out. It wasn’t a lie, when facts change people should change their mind!

    As I said above: I want something different to the Clegg and Kennedy leadership. Yes centrism, but one that resonates with more people.

  • I would urge people to think what we would say to voters on the doorstep if we elect as a leader someone who voted in favour of tuition fees. The leader should be someone who kept to the pledge that they made. It was a free vote and MPs made a choice. Saying that we were sorry that we made the pledge in the first place misses the point.

    We need to build a big tent with all parts of the party in, and should seek to keep all parts included. The leader, however, must be someone who the public will naturally trust. It is the tuition fees issue that makes it impossible for me, and I can see from the posts here many others, to support Norman Lamb.

  • @eddie the party can take the approach that mistakes are forgiveable, but unless the electorate agrees the libdems will be far more doomed with a new leader who voted for tuition fee increases.

  • Peter Watson 12th May '15 - 5:30pm

    @Ed Joyce “I would urge people to think what we would say to voters on the doorstep if we elect as a leader someone who voted in favour of tuition fees.”
    That’s easy. Lib Dems would have to say exactly what they have been saying for the last few years, probably with the same outcome.

  • @Ed Joyce
    As someone who voted for a different party, I would be willing to listen to the Lib Dems if I felt that the lessons had been learned. The basic failure, it seems to me, was a failure to look ahead and decide if the pledge was really a good idea, given the economic circumstances.

    If you think that you cannot predict the strength of the economy and you are not prepared to raise taxes to fund it, then the only option is to not make the pledge.

    I would ask Mr Lamb to put forward his plan to make sure that the Lib Dems do look forward.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th May '15 - 6:11pm

    By the way, in terms of wealth taxes the only workable one is a net-asset tax. Mansion Taxes and even a Land Value Tax would be hated among the section of the electorate it hits the most and do little to tackle the likes of Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon etc. We are in the 21st century and need tax policies for this era – not ones based on 19th century land-owners. I know the LVT lobby would disagree, but I just don’t think they make sense.

  • @Eddie Sammon
    It’s been a while since I did any formal maths but shouldn’t the search be for the highest common factor rather than the lowest common denominator?

  • Eddie Sammon 12th May '15 - 6:43pm

    Steve, indeed, I knew my mathematical comparisons were wrong on that one, but the point remains the same. There is no perfect candidate, so we shouldn’t just pick a single issue and base the whole campaign on it.

    Best wishes

  • @Liberal Crusader 12th May ’15 – 1:27pm
    “Did Norman Lamb rebel on anything during 5 years? Anything? Or did he said with the coalition at all times?”

    Norman Lamb’s “I am my own person” translates to rebelling twice on 895 occasions. His, I am “a conviction politician” translates to, as George Potter points out, ” break(ing) a signed pledge to vote against any rise in tuition fees?”.

    May 7th has one big lesson to teach us; and those who will not learn the lessons of the past are condemned to repeat it.

  • Richard Whelan 12th May '15 - 7:50pm

    This sounds too much like an establishment figure with establishment policies. We need a complete break with the past if we are going to succeed in the future.

  • Caroline cherry 12th May '15 - 8:02pm

    I felt these five clear statements were impressive. We do not need to repeat the labour parties mistakes. The issue of tuition fees is irrelevant now . The main point is that we concentrate on education as a priority oh and apprenticeships.
    There is no doubt that being in government has led to some appreciating that the liberals can have their own policies and are able to work effectively even within a coalition. I think Norman Lamb has an impressive record and would vote for him . We do not need to address the problems of the Labour Party as we are the Liberal party. We believe in improved social opportunities and access to social justice for all. We are not in a nineteenth century historical model of class warfare as portrayed by the Labour Party. Education is probably key for health as well. I’m talking education on health issues in the classroom. We need preventative strategies not just reactive ones. Efficient and modern public services are needed. Everyone has a right to get seen and modernising and integrating the social welfare and NHS is a good idea. The liberals never believed in covering up hospital negligence to appease powerful interests’Mid Staffs .
    Good luck Norman.

  • @Eddie Sammon
    The problem is that this was such a key issue and it has not, and will not be forgotten for some time yet. Trust is why Labour did so badly, insufficient voters trusted them to rum the economy, in part because of the narrative that the problems in the economy were entirely down to their management. The Lib Dems were trusted and ran in 2010 on a promise of no more broken promises. Breaking a promise so early, and one that had been given so much emphasis by the decision to sign up to the NUS pledge, meant that for many those MP’s who voted to triple fees had shown not just a lack of judgement but a lack of integrity.

    Lamb was, by his own words in the Telegraph article referenced above, a keen supporter of the Bill in contrast to say Lynne Featherstone who made the press for having to be comforted after breaking her pledge. Tim does not have that bridge to cross with the electorate and therefore may find it easier to rebuild trust.

    Many of us warned back in 2010 that this would be one of the key issues at the next GE and it has proved to be so. To stop it continuing to be an issue I would suggest there needs to be a clean break at the top.

    Labour made the mistake of choosing a leader tainted by association with their handling of the economy and, or course Iraq. Remember how his brother commented that he had voted for the conflict during Ed’s first conference speech as leader? Remember how many times the Tories had an open goal by reminding the public that the two Ed’s had been advisors in the Treasury under Brown?

    You may want to put the issue to bed, but it really only goes away in electoral terms if the public let it…..

  • Those who suppose that tuition fees will continue to be an issue in 2020 should consider the extent Labour politicians were grilled about Iraq in the recent election. Despite thousands of unaccountable deaths and continued terror in the region, we heard very little. Of course there should be no comparison. Questions about the issue are likely to move on. Will Labour maintain their tuition fee reduction policy? I doubt it. Will the Tories alter the scheme? Probably. Will university departments face severe funding problems? Very likely. Will we have much to say on the subject? We will probably stick to generalities and platitudes.

    We should not over estimate our importance, with only 8 MPs we will be lucky to command much attention for anything.

  • * Norman Lamb MP is Liberal Democrat Minister of State at the Department of Health. I think someone may need to check this for factual accuracy.

    [now updated – mod]

  • @John Ault 12th May ’15 – 10:15pm

    Like the article, the credit’s living in the past.

  • @Martin
    I would ask yourself how many times Lib Dem’s used the phrase illegal war in this campaign, I certainly heard it. Also both Labour (hypocritically) and the Tories can use the broken pledge against the Lib Dems. The Tories could not use Iraq as they were more than willing “accomplices”. Amplify that by the fact that unlike the Lib Dems, Labour and the Tories get better press coverage and I think it is naive to believe that any future Lib Dem leader who broke their pledge won’t be reminded of it…

  • @Caroline Cherry
    I am afraid you are deluding yourself if you think the issue of the broken pledge is now irrelevant. Breaking that pledge is the single biggest act of Hari Kiri committed by a party leader I can think of, and a clean break from that is I am afraid of paramount importance..

    Regarding the issue of tuition fees, I bet that is going to come back this parliament as well, when the Tories relax the £9000 limit and remove most of the safeguards the Lib Dems put in. I am also very worried that Science funding will be axed in this parliament. We had better have a coherent policy of this which is an improvement on the last five years.. Remember that students are the activists of the future and a whole generation has been lost to us

    Finally, for a leadership candidate to fail to mention the Environment in his big initial pitch is just inexcusable. Like it or not, we are going to be scrapping with the Green Party up and down the country in the next 5 years and we have to take back the sustainability agenda that is natural Liberal Democrat territory. What happened in Bristol West and so many of the Lab-Con marginals should warn us that only the fact that we had so many incumbents saved us from coming behind the Greens in the popular vote, as we did in the Euros.

  • @ Caroline Cherry
    In the coalition we had education as one of our main priorities and it is not the answer to inequalities and the constant need to ensure that freedoms are available for the poorest and the disadvantaged. The issue of the poor NHS performance on mental health is an example where educating the mentally ill will not help them.

  • Eddie

    “wealth taxes the only workable one is a net-asset tax. Mansion Taxes and even a Land Value Tax would be hated among the section of the electorate it hits the most and do little to tackle the likes of Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon etc. We are in the 21st century and need tax policies for this era – not ones based on 19th century land-owners. I know the LVT lobby would disagree, but I just don’t think they make sense.”

    This is not the place for this policy discussion, but I think you miss the point of a LVT and how it would work. The purpose is not “punishment” of land ownership but taxing in the most efficient manner. Taxation of Labour and Capital have the largest deadweight loss, land tax one of the lowest.

  • I do very much agree with Norman Lamb that we have to campaign with others on the electoral system. At the moment we are letting the Greens and UKIP run with this issue while we are looking inwards. STV for local elections is something that might be achievable, if not this time, then next. The Scots seem pretty happy with it..

  • Conor McGovern 13th May '15 - 1:59am

    Hoping Greg Mulholland sets out his stall and runs for the leadership. I’m not convinced a two-horse race between Farron and Lamb is ideal and a third voice would be refreshing.

  • Conor McGovern 13th May ’15 – 1:59am

    According to ITV News —

    Mr Mulholland, who hung onto his seat in Leeds North West, has ruled himself out of the running but appeared to endorse Tim Farron with a call for a ‘tuition fee rebel’ to take over the position.

    He said the controversy over the issue, along with backing NHS reforms and the so-called “bedroom tax” was one of “three fatal errors” made by Mr Clegg after he took the “right decision” to join forces with the Tories.
    The 2010 failure to ensure no Liberal Democrat MP voted against a rise in fees was catastrophic. Now we need a leader who voted against.

    Clearly those of us who have been re-elected will have to talk about how best we can work together and how we should operate going forwards over the next few years.”

    Last updated Mon 11 May 2015

  • ‘I hope that on some thread somewhere LDV is making sure the other leadership candidate is being asked to account for his parliamentary voting record and to explain why he voted ‘NO’ to the Same Sex Couples Marriage Bill.’

    @Gail Bones

    More details on that:

    That’s my major concern with Farron, also. Simply put, I worry about that much more than I worry about the tuition fees debacle.

  • Eddie Sammon 13th May '15 - 9:01am

    That may be so John, but if the three main errors were tuition fees, NHS reforms and the bedroom tax then Labour probably would have won the election.

    There’s much more to what went wrong than simply annoying the base. The strategy to reach out to others failed.

  • Norman was a Minister we can all be proud of his. His work on mental health is a credit to the Liberal Democrats.

    However, the party has nearly been completely wiped out. We need a major change, which is why I’ll support Tim as he can offer something completely new.

    I remain a big supporter of Norman though.

  • What bothers me with Tim Farron is that he appears to be driven by his deeply held religious views rather than the principles we would expect from a leader of our party. We haven’t got a lot to choose from and picking the wrong leader now could well finish us off. It won’t be too long before many anti-Clegg contributors on theis site realise how good he actually was.

  • Just no.

    This is the man who faked being a libertarian before the 2010 election with comments like banning tobacco displays in shops was “the nanny state going too far.” (google bbc news ban on tobacco displays announced 9 Dec 2008) then as a minister folded to the pressure from the anti-tobacco lobby becoming an advocate for plain packaging.

    Regardless of what we individually think about smoking, we hope to be represented by people with the strength of their convictions to think the same when they are in opposition and in government, rather than just going native and implementing civil service orthodoxy when the door of the ministry closes. This isn’t just about smoking, it’s about HS2, secret courts, tuition fees and all the other problems that have the same root cause.

    As a libertarian myself I have huge differences of opinions with Tim Farron but I would rather have him than someone who tries to wear my clothes but actually thinks it’s ok for politicians to design people’s lifestyles for them.

    BTW I am not currently a member.

  • Eddie

    “There’s much more to what went wrong than simply annoying the base.”

    This is true but annoying your base is a factor.

    Which errors people see as key depends on their personal biases but most agree breaking a simple signed pledge is up there.

    One issue that has not been discussed much is the failing when communicating certain policies the week arguments used. On the tax threshold it was just given as ” a bit more money in the pocket of the lower paid” when there were many reasons that went beyond that, and spelling out those additional reasons would be beyond a line the Tories would adopt.

  • Ok so it seems to come down to this:

    Norman a Lamb signed a personal Pledge to vote against any increase in tuition fees but then reluctantly voted to triple them. This makes him ripe for criticism from Lib Dems and voters that he is not a person of principle who can be trusted by voters to keep his word.

    Tim Farron voted against the Same Sex Marriage Act. This makes him ripe for criticism from other Lib Dems that he puts his personal beliefs and convictions ahead of being ‘liberal’. Criticism from voters would be imo minimal. It is simply not as toxic an issue with the voters as the Tuition Fees issue. Some voters may even applaud him.

    Is it not to Tim’s credit that he stands by his convictions on a free vote?

  • Martin I think if David Miliband had been Leader, the Iraq issue would have been covered massively because he was an enthusiastic supporter. ED Miliband immediately said it was a mistake – there is even footage if David turning to Hattie and saying ‘why are you applauding? you supported it too’ . So they focussed on Ed Miliband’s Achilles Heel which was the economy. Norman’s Achilles Heel is Tuition Fees but not the whys and wherefores – it will simply come down to a question of “how can voters trust you”. In fact this was exactly the line taken by John Humphreys yesterday when interviewing Norman. It won’t be about the rights or wrongs of the policy but about personal integrity.

    Tim will be asked about the Same Sex issue but he will simply say “I voted according to my personal beliefs but our party is a broad church which can attract liberal-minded persons of faith as well as those with no faith” and it simply won’t have the same negative resonance with the general public as ” you can’t be trusted” .

  • @Wayne Simmons and others

    Tim Farron voted “strongly FOR” the same sex marriage bill!

    He did vote for some amendments that would have allowed registrars and religions to dissent.

    Lets not get into the Labour tactic of falsifying the voting record of our own MPs!

  • BTW Greg Mulholland has been retweeting people who are asking him to stand, so perhaps he has not ruled himself out as much as people think!

  • It’s great to read all the positive comments about someone who is prepared to put his hand up to lead the party and make sure there is a proper contest. I sincerely hope there aren’t too many of our never before members reading this thread; it will disabuse them of their idealistic notions.

  • As someone else has said, @Sir Norfolk well said sir.

    I’m rather depressed by the tone of most of the comments here. There are the left wing of the party who only seem to want a leader who’s going to apologise for the last 5 years. Personally speaking – despite the obvious mistakes – I’m rather proud of our role in government and I’m unlikely to vote for a leader who wants to disown what we did. I strongly suspect that in Norman and Tim I’ll be happy either way.

    As an unashamed social AND economic liberal I’m undecided, but my immediate questions to both would be:

    1) What is you can distinctively offer and how are you going to get the Lib Dems noticed in the next 5 years?
    2) Are you planning to change the direction of the party away from either social or economic liberalism?

    On the first question I’m likely to go with the best person in terms of both style and substance. On the second, I’m not going to vote for anyone who is going to lurch us left or right.

  • Oh heck sorry ! I was going by what other posters had said on here and did not in any way mean to mislead people!! Apologies for the mistake!

    If Tim did not in fact vote against the Same Sex Marriage Act, then I don’t see that he has any Achilles Heel. Yes he is a man of faith but to dismiss him for the Leadership for that reason would be highly illiberal.

  • @TCO & Julian Tisi

    Obviously our new members have ‘forgiven’ tuition fees/NHS/bedroom tax etc. My worry, borne out of the 7th May, is that the wider electorate a) haven’t and b) won’t! We tried the apology stance and it bombed – any future leader (right/left/centrist/radical) will need to move past the pledge issue or this will be continually referenced. My contention is that it’s easier to start afresh and only then will we get a wider hearing.

  • @ D McKay
    Some of the new members are old members like me who resigned over the broken pledge! I don’t think you can make any assumptions about which particular issues the new members may or may not have forgiven the party over. Hopefully, like me, the new members want a clean break with the past and a vision of the way forward from the candidates for leadership. I do not expect them to explain every vote they made in the coalition and I do not expect to agree with them on every issue. But the question of trust is more important for me in a politician than anything else!

    The problem with the apology is that Nick apologised for making the pledge, not for breaking it! That is just not how pledges work, I am afraid

  • Stephen Hesketh 13th May '15 - 12:43pm

    Robert13th May ’15 – 9:12am
    “What bothers me with Tim Farron is that he appears to be driven by his deeply held religious views rather than the principles we would expect from a leader of our party. We haven’t got a lot to choose from and picking the wrong leader now could well finish us off. It won’t be too long before many anti-Clegg contributors on theis site realise how good he actually was.”

    Robert, I am a commited secularist.

    I have met and spoken to Tim Farron several times during his visits to Southport and all I can say is that I have never seen any indication that his personal religious beliefs clash with Liberalism.

    As others have already pointed out since I began to write this post mid-morning, he supported the equal marriage legislation.

  • @ Andrew

    I stand corrected! Maybe I should say new members (including those returning) are prepared to listen? My concern is that after 4 years people were not even ready to hear us due to the pledge and that the party was seen to condone this ‘dishonesty’ (I agree that the linguistic gymnastics of the apology weren’t helpful either!).

  • Conor McGovern 13th May '15 - 2:18pm

    @ JohnTilley
    Thanks for the info. Hopefully he’ll change his mind!
    @ Julian Tisi
    Agree – my reasons for the finger-crossing seen above is that I feel Tim Farron would disown too much of the Coalition and our potential for a role in government, while Norman fails to criticise enough of it (uni fees being a standout), plays it safe and risks being seen as yesterday’s man.

  • @Andrew

    ‘Tim Farron voted “strongly FOR” the same sex marriage bill!

    Well, I was guilty too, then, of following what other posters said. For that, I apologise.

    ‘He did vote for some amendments that would have allowed registrars and religions to dissent.’

    Which worries me, on one hand – allowing those who conduct marriages to opt out could dilute the whole bill considerably, you could argue. On the other hand, as a libertarian, I can see the counter-argument for such an amendment.

    If I’m honest, I personally am still concerned that Farron’s faith will impact upon his liberal values – and not always in a good way. Religion and politics rarely make good bedfellows in my experience.

  • Stephen Hesketh 13th May '15 - 3:25pm

    Conor McGovern13th May ’15 – 2:18pm
    “@ Julian Tisi – Agree – my reasons for the finger-crossing seen above is that I feel Tim Farron would disown too much of the Coalition and our potential for a role in government, while Norman fails to criticise enough of it (uni fees being a standout), plays it safe and risks being seen as yesterday’s man.”

    Whether we like it or not our part in the coalition has just been wholeheartedly rejected. I don’t believe we should right now make a big play in defending what happened during the coalition years (except when the Tories are stealing our policies and credit for them).

    The values of unfettered Tory government will, in time, be clearly revealed and will demonstrate what we prevented them from doing in 2010-15. At that point a man who was not closely associated with our past failings could much more easily point this out.

    If Nick Clegg did it, although no less true, it would remind voters of the negatives and their sometimes unfair negative perceptions of him.

    Setting aside his personal belief in a fair and sustainable liberal society, Tim Farron will be much better placed to dispassionately do this than a man who was closely associated with Nick Clegg personally and politically. It’s hardly rocket science.

  • Helen Tedcastle 13th May '15 - 3:49pm

    I find it extremely depressing that on a Liberal site such as LDV that Tim Farron’s deeply held Christian faith should be seen as somehow an obstacle to leadership. This party has always been the ONE party in British politics which tolerated dissent from the prevailing norm or zeitgeist and certainly always championed respect for conscience.

    The fact that some people on here still cannot fathom the fact that others albeit in a minority could not square some aspects of the the ssm bill with their conscience, takes lack of charity to a new level.

    I remember a similar debate on conscience when I first joined the party in the eighties when Quakers argued passionately on the floor of the Liberal Assembly for their pacifist stance on nuclear missile deployment. It always impressed me how Liberals who did not agree with this nonetheless got up and expressed their support for their opponent’s stance. This is one key reason why I remained in the party in its successor.

    Sadly, it seems that some are not prepared to be so charitable towards one of best campaigners in 2015. This leads me to think that on this point alone Tim needs to be backed as a strike back for Liberal conscience.

  • David Evans 13th May '15 - 3:57pm

    I wonder if I am the only person hoping, probably forlornly, for a third candidate. Not for any reason against Norman, who has declared himself a candidate, nor Tim, who I don’t think has yet, but for all those people who sadly think all that is needed is one point where they totally disagree with Norman or Tim and they can use it and re-use it ceaselessly in an attempt to undermine. A third candidate, by his (sadly not her) mere presence, would mean far fewer people would go negative simply because to most Lib Dems the best point in favour of any candidate would be having a load of followers who are Lib Dems in the fullest sense, balancing fundamental values, and not people who look like single issue obsessives who would fall out with Ghandi because he didn’t have a position on digital rights.

  • Stephen Hesketh 13th May '15 - 4:01pm

    Hi Helen – hope mine was a balanced view … for a secularist 😉

  • David Evans 13th May '15 - 4:01pm

    With apologies to Ghandi and those who have concerns about government incursions to undermine people’s digital rights.

  • Helen Tedcastle 13th May '15 - 4:09pm

    David Evans

    I couldn’t agree more. It would be good to have a variety of candidates. However, as two possible contenders, Mulholland and Carmichael have ruled themselves out, we have Tim and Norman. I would hope, like you, that the two candidates are scrutinised in the round, on a variety of policy stances but above all on their Liberal values.

  • Helen Tedcastle 13th May '15 - 4:12pm

    Hi Stephen – no my first comment was not directed to you as your comment was as ever balanced, sensible and broad-minded 🙂

  • John Roffey 13th May '15 - 4:12pm

    wayne simmons 13th May ’15 – 8:06am
    ‘I hope that on some thread somewhere LDV is making sure the other leadership candidate is being asked to account for his parliamentary voting record and to explain why he voted ‘NO’ to the Same Sex Couples Marriage Bill.’

    Perhaps the question should be – why was the issue given such a high priority – given the low take up – at a time when [we were told that] the nation was in such a crisis?

  • Helen Tedcastle, Phyllis, Stephen Hesketh, and others make the very reasonable pont that a Liberal party of all parties should respect people of other religions and those of no religion.
    Our predecessors in earlier centuries literally were imprisoned, fought and died for the right to dissent from the state view on religion.

    I cannot imagine for a moment that if Tim Farron was Jewish people would be making some of the remarks that they are making.
    I believe in a ‘secular republic of the free’ — I rather hope that tolerance of religious beliefs stretches to Christianity in our party.

    I do not know if Norman Lamb is in any way religious. There is no reason why I should know.
    I also do not know if he parts his hair on the left, in the middle or on the right. From the photographs he seems to change his hairstyle as frequently as he changes his glasses.

    As we are not the DUP the religious habits of Mr Lamb should not be a primary consideration in the leadership election.

  • Stephen Hesketh 13th May '15 - 4:27pm

    Thanks Helen … I do my best – but not always well enough 🙂

  • Sadie Smith 13th May '15 - 4:30pm

    Role of Leadership.
    I have been a member for quite a while. In all but one (Ming) I voted for the Other’ candidate not the winner. I am still here. They have actually been a reasonable bunch..
    A big question which can’t be solved by a Leadership election, is the promotion of women in some form of Leadership Team. And I do mean in addition to Sal.
    Getting some publicity does matter.

    Norman has been a Minister and is still an MP. That looks significant.

    Tuition fees. Best not to have signed the NUS pledge. Campaigns told me it was safe to do so. I disagreed and they were sent a letter instead.

    I hope that members, including new members will work out that we need to do quite a lot of the thinking and campaigning for ourselves. It needs to conform to the Preamble to the Constitution. Leader and MPs come in handy but are not the principal focus at the moment.
    There are a good number of people around who have done it before.

  • Conor McGovern 13th May '15 - 5:06pm

    @ Stephen Hesketh
    I agree we should be focusing on the future rather than endlessly dwelling on the past 5 years, but we shouldn’t be ashamed to point to our achievements just because the results of the election left us with a handful of MPs. People didn’t all switch from the Lib Dems to other parties because they hated the fact we were in govt. Part of it was that we were being punished for how we handled key aspects – fees, austerity, NHS reforms, the bedroom tax – and we should strike the right balance by pointing to our successes while apologising for our mistakes and looking to the future. For what it’s worth, I’m not planning on voting for Norman but Tim seems to want to pretend that the past 5 years never happened, even the (many) things we did well. We need to strike a balance.

  • SIMON BANKS 13th May '15 - 5:10pm

    I was impressed by Norman’s answer when, interviewed on “Look East”, he was asked what Liberalism was about. He answered in terms of trusting the people and giving them power, and gave examples of people at the bottom of the heap who received poor services because their voices weren’t listened to. That was a truly Liberal answer.

    My reservations are that at this point in our history we may need more fire, passion and ability to inspire; and that Norman may have been too close to Nick Clegg to deliver enough change. He would though be a brilliant Shadow Chancellor.

  • @John Roffey

    Those aren’t my words you quoted there. I was quoting an earlier poster’s words in my own post. Sorry for the confusion!

    @Helen Tedcastle – sorry to disappoint you and very sorry if I offended you.

    But I do think that there are many instances where Christian/ religious values can negatively impact upon liberal values – and more than often re: sexuality. There’s no getting away from that.

    Of course, there are also many ways, as you’ve correctly demonstrated, in which a person’s faith can encourage/ reinforce liberal values – the Quakers’ pacifistic stance is an excellent example.

    So an open discourse on faith and liberal values is important, in my view, so as to bring these discussions out into daylight.

    To discourage such, in my view, is counter-productive.

    None of us should be afraid to raise these concerns for fear of disapproval from others.

  • Conor,
    Where do you get the idea that Tim Farron wants to pretend the last five years did not happen? Does not sound like that here:

  • Conor McGovern 13th May '15 - 6:14pm

    Andrew, thanks for the interesting article, it goes some way to explaining what Tim’s priorities are for the future. What I mean about the last 5 years is that I can’t see Tim spending much time as leader (even in the first year) highlighting our achievements in coalition. I don’t want us to replicate the strategy of the Labour Party under Ed Miliband – ignoring past wins in government – nor do I want middle-of-the-road ‘continuity’ under Norman. We should be passionate and radical, yes, with a more democratic and modern party structure, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also mention our recent successes and spell out how we can make progress now after past mistakes.

  • Helen Tedcastle 13th May '15 - 6:32pm

    John Tilley

    You make some very fair points as always John.

    ‘ the religious habits of Mr Lamb should not be a primary consideration in the leadership election.’ Exactly, which is why it’s frustrating to see Tim discussed in this way in relation to one issue on a thread about Norman.

    Far more interesting to me is how close Norman was/is to Nick Clegg’s centrist project. I respect his work on mental health and he was an energetic care minister but the jury is out for me on where he wants to take the party, on what he thinks was at the heart of why it went so disastrously wrong, and on his core values behind policy stances. The article above is a little bit like more of the same.

  • Eddie Sammon 13th May '15 - 6:33pm

    Conor makes some good points. I don’t agree with him on everything, but I do agree that in reference to the past five years both the continuity strategy and the repudiation strategy are bad ideas.

    Norman’s opening gambit was too continuity, but a lot of the people who want the repudiation strategy, or something like it, seem to support Tim.

    Both need to up their game or a third candidate needs to come along. 🙂

  • @Helen
    I have total respect for his viewpoint all I would ask is that he has respect for those who disagree. Votes on matters of conscience, in my opinion, should not be about the choice the MP wishes to make, rather whether they wish they can justify restricting others from having the opportunity to decide for themselves..

  • David Allen 13th May '15 - 7:09pm

    Eddie Sammon said: “Both the continuity strategy and the repudiation strategy are bad ideas”. I agree with Eddie – But not necessarily with his reasons!

    “Strategy” is what’s bad. Strategy means “Market something to the supposedly gullible voters, which we in our wisdom think they will swallow”.

    Elect a leader whose principles you approve of. Then go and campaign for what you believe in. Anything else is cynical politicking which deserves defeat (and will probably get it).

  • Just to provide a balanced view of Farron’s liberal values reconciling with his faith/ conscience, countering some of the above posts (including my own):

    ‘Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat President, says David Cameron’s policy of mandatory ‘porn filters’ for internet service providers should be scrapped because “essential sites on sexual health, gender and sexuality, domestic violence and LGBT rights are being blocked”.’

    But I know we’re in danger of going off topic here. This is Norman Lamb’s post, after all.

    So can I pose a question? Someone (rightly) said that to boil down Tim Farron’s leadership bid to his parliamentary record re: faith/ issues of conscience is to sell him short. Might it also be selling Norman Lamb’s bid short to focus overly on the tuition fees debacle? Or do you think – given the election result – that tuition fees is a much more serious issue?

    And here’s another thought: is it possible that the electorate might feel they have punished the party enough for tuition fees and might be willing to put it aside, come next voting day? After all, the media seem to be on the whole very sympathetic to the lib dems right now. Maybe public opinion will go the same way…

  • The past can come back to haunt you and Leadership selection is important. A new inquiry has just been announced into claims evidence was altered during the police investigation into former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe in the 1970s,

    All of our MP’s have been part of the coalition and must take collective responsibility for the consequence of Liberal Democrat participation in government over the past five years – both the good and the bad. For the most part the public consensus is that the coalition worked well during that period of time.

    I stood as a candidate in this election and in the prior 2010 election. In the wake of the Davies commission report in 2010, I was sceptical of the long term viability of tuition fees policy, even though my son was about to start university in 2012 – the first year under the new fees regime – and would have personally benefited.

    Like Sadie Smith, I too did not sign the NUS pledge.The campaigns department advice is just that, advisory only and each PPC must determine what he or she is prepared to make a commitment to. The UK is a representative democracy in which Parliamentarians’ are elected to represent the interests of all their constituents and not just those who vote for them.

    Regardless of any individual stance, I am still bound by the democratic policy decisions of conference and the Parliamentary party. Individual pledges (or votes in the case of MP’s) make not one iota of difference to how I am viewed as a Liberal Democrat candidate. That is determined by the Party’s collective public perception.

    It would be the height of folly to now attempt to disown the policies that were passed and collectively justified by Liberal Democrat ministers under this coalition government – only adding further to the lack of trust engendered by the breaking of the tuition fees pledge.

    Rather the focus should be on campaigning against the introduction, in this parliament, of the more regressive policies Libdem MP’s managed to prevent from being implemented during the coalition period.

    Standing by the decisions and necessary comprises made in government, both for and against the introduction of new legislation/regulations requires moral courage and steadfastness grounded in Liberal values – just the kind of qualities we need in a new party leader.

  • Eddie Sammon 13th May '15 - 7:27pm

    Lol, Mr Allen, I agree that you should campaign for what you believe in, but I have built a bit of flexibility in what I believe in! 😀

    Not too much, but a bit of flexibility is important. We’ve got to consider other people’s experiences and how they will react.

  • Zigurds Kronbergs 13th May '15 - 7:31pm

    Well said, Helen (whom I used to know, by the way).

    I am backing Tim because we need to abandon the disastrous quest for moderation and the centre (which keeps shifting right) and restore our stance as a radical party of social justice and individual freedom. We don’t have to pretend the Coalition never happened or keep apologising (I think people are realising already what we prevented) but we do need to embrace social liberalism more closely and reject the economic liberalism and welfare meanness that was the Coalition’s worst aspect. Norman doesn’t seem to advocate this clearly, however good a minister he was.

    To echo another contributor, however, I do wish people did not ‘bang on’ quite so much about tuition fees. Only one out of many 100s of people mentioned it to me on the doorstep, although a rural Suffolk village may not be a representative sample of voters.

  • paul barker 13th May '15 - 8:16pm

    Just a general point – a lot of the comments seem to me to to amount to fighting old battles all over again & that is something we should avoid above all else. The problem with learning the lessons of the last 5 years is that most of them have been rendered irrelelavant by the results of The Election. I want to hear about what we do next & the possibilities for the next decade. All the evidence is that political change is speeding up & I want a Leader who can get us ahead of the curve.

  • @David Allen:
    ‘“Strategy” is what’s bad. Strategy means “Market something to the supposedly gullible voters, which we in our wisdom think they will swallow”.’

    That’s not “Strategy”; that’s a strategy.

    “Elect a leader whose principles you approve of. Then go and campaign for what you believe in. Anything else is cynical politicking which deserves defeat (and will probably get it).”

    That’s another strategy.

    But in the past campaign either strategy would have been better than what was actually used, which was no strategy at all but a series of half-hearted and inconsistent expedients.

  • Conor,

    I think whoever is leader the achievements of the Lib Dems in coalition are going to come up time and again as the Tories seek to systematically overturn them… And for the time being at least the LAB-LIB majority in the house of Lords means that each of these issues will keep coming back and back. The Tories will set this agenda but politically it will be good for us

    Tim Farron has yet to even declare his candidacy so it is a bit early to say what direction he would take. However he has made a good start by laying into Theresa May on the snooper’s charter from day 1! And what an own goal by Cameron saying that it is not enough for British citizens to keep to the Law of the Land! Unbelievable!

    I do think Farron will try to carve out a message distinct from Cleggism and he is not an economic Liberal. He believes (from speeches) the State is there to do good and CAN do good, so he is far from the Tories. But he has certainly persuaded plenty of Tories to vote for him in Westmorland! Michael Jopling used to get 60% of the vote there.

  • Well said Wayne Simmons! It seems it’s okay to criticise someone’s politics or riddicule their choice of football team but call into question a superstitious religious faith and one is deemed to have stepped over the line. I am a firm non believer but not an atheist. The possible existence of some kind of divine creator is a completely different issue to the man made religions that have attached themselves to that possibilty. I have long felt that two of the big issues threatening the cohesion of communities across the world are mass migration and organised religion. Both have been coming into clearer view in recent years. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask any religiously motivated leadership candidate putting themselves foreward how that fact might influence their leadership and the direction in which they would wish to take the party. I understand that Tim Farron, for instance, is quite keen on defending the promotion of religious faith healing. That’s fine to hold that as personal view but I am not sure I would want it popping up in a debate about the NHS.

  • Martin Lowe 13th May '15 - 9:26pm

    Sorry Norman, but you voted for the tuition fees increase.

    That doesn’t bother me (students did end up with a fairer deal than they had under Labour), but it bothers enough of the electorate for it to continue to taint the Party.

    We have to put this behind us and move on. Therefore, my vote will go to a candidate who voted against the fee raise.

  • When I talked about ‘mass migration’ in my last post I am referring to desperate people fleeing en masse into hostile and unwelcoming environments. Not the migration and immigration we have within, for instance, the EU.

  • Eddie Sammon 13th May '15 - 9:41pm

    By the way, I don’t agree with those who suggest Tim’s religion should count against him. As long as he has a broadly “liberal” record I don’t think people should start digging and then complaining if they find a tiny trace of religious influence. The party shouldn’t be about liberal puritanism.


  • So, Tim Farron is an Anglican, Norman Lamb is a Quaker, Charles Kennedy is a Roman Catholic, Nick Clegg is an atheist. Frankly, what does it matter?

  • Stephen Hesketh 13th May '15 - 9:49pm

    @Norman Lamb
    I for one am particularly glad to hear you say this: “ending economic unfairness must be a key driver for our party, because the growing gulf between the super rich and everyone else destroys hope and corrupts our social fabric.”

  • Stephen Hesketh 13th May '15 - 10:01pm

    Conor McGovern 13th May ’15 – 5:06pm

    Coner, and I am not saying we didn’t do some good things in government. Given time that realisation and people’s willingness to listen to us will return.

    I do however think it is too early (for any Lib Dem) to attempt to raise them as a positive.

  • Conor McGovern 13th May '15 - 10:02pm

    @ Stephen –
    That was definitely the part I picked up on and favoured the most as well. Norman could strengthen the rhetoric a bit as ‘unfairness’ sounds too wishy-washy, but it’s the substance that matters most at least when we’re picking a leader. Would Norman push banking reform and oppose TTIP?

  • Conor McGovern 13th May '15 - 10:05pm

    Just saw your last post, Stephen. I think within the next 12 months the public would be more receptive to us mentioning our achievements, just as a first step and so we don’t end up airbrushing everything we achieved in coalition.

  • @John Tilley I think the point is that in a largely secular country, religious observance is very much a minority activity.

    As such it could potentially be another stick for our opponents to beat us with.

    I’m not saying that’s right or liberal, but it’s a fact and one that potentially has electoral implications, so it has to be borne in mind as a fa ctor when choosing a leader.

  • Stephen Hesketh 13th May '15 - 11:02pm

    Conor McGovern 13th May ’15 – 10:02pm
    “Would Norman push banking reform and oppose TTIP?”

    This is quite funny because that is exactly where my thoughts went also.

    I’m beginning to wonder if Nick Clegg’s fanatical centrism and how members split as regards their loyalty to him personally, has been a greater underlying issue than we may have appreciated.

  • @ Julian Tisi
    “As an unashamed social AND economic liberal”
    Please can you define what you mean by social liberal and economic liberal as I believe they are mutually exclusive?

    @ David Evans
    “I wonder if I am the only person hoping, probably forlornly, for a third candidate.”
    No. I would like a third candidate, another one who voted against the tuition fee increase please.

  • Conor McGovern 13th May '15 - 11:42pm

    @ David Evans
    “I wonder if I am the only person hoping, probably forlornly, for a third candidate.”
    No. I would like a third candidate, another one who voted against the tuition fee increase please.

  • If the Liberal Democrat Party turns out to be a place where everyone gets equal respect unless they are religious I won’t be here very long, because I am really looking for a political place where tolerance and respect for difference is a high priority. It seems to be missing from all the other parties already.

    Thank you to all those who have already made comments pointing out that intolerance of a personal world view is not very liberal.

  • Dear Norman it is great you are standing, we should not just have a coronation, but Tim Farron has my vote. GBJ.

  • Neil Sandison 15th May '15 - 10:52am

    Seeing the bunch of light weights putting forward for the Labour party leadership and the mess the coronation of king Nigel UKIP is making .Isnt it good that we have 2 quality candidates so far to choose from.

  • Neil Sandison
    One of those Labour lightweights has just withdrawn – no doubt someone has told him he can be Mayor of London instead.
    Start planning for that parliamentary byelection in Lambeth in summer 2016.

  • The problem that any LibDem leader will face is the barrage of “What About?”-ers on tuition fees, ‘bedroom tax’, etc – regardless of the merits of the policy that was actually put in place, the electorate at large have proven they’re vindictive masochists. (Can you tell I’m still angry?)

    For that reason, despite my great admiration for Norman Lamb & the mental health agenda he’s help set… as a party, I feel we need a “coalition rebel” as leader – someone who can point to good coalition policy and say “look what the LibDems did!”, while still being able to silence the “what about”-er.

    I’d like this to be more than a two horse race, and look forward to more candidates coming forward.

    I also feel that religion should only enter into the debate where a candidate feels (or has shown) that their religious views will hinder their ability to represent Liberal’s of all creeds (and none).

    Personal views and beliefs are their own – if it helps them be compassionate, even better! (But at no point should that be seen as endorsement to hold back Liberal ideas (that go against religious beliefs of one kind or another)).

  • AM:
    What you say about religious dispositions is fine, however on another thread the following link was posted that is clearly disturbing.
    What can he have been thinking of when he gave his name to such nonsense? People know to expect that a government minister would vote according to government lines, but this looks like an unforced error and alarming evidence of a capacity for credulity.

    As for ‘bedroom tax’ and tuition fees, these issues cannot stand still. Tuition fees will bed down and I suspect questions will revolve more around when deductions start, how much is deducted, for how long and also how postgraduate degrees are funded; the so called ‘bedroom tax’ will be part of a wider issue of affordable housing and the public housing stock.

    Besides with only 8 MPs we will be lucky ot have anyone giving us much attention.

  • Helen Tedcastle 15th May '15 - 2:52pm


    What I’m interested in is whether, as a Liberal, you tolerate the right of others to have beliefs you do not agree with. prayer as a form of healing (psychological etc) is not a new concept and is not an alternative to science or medicine. Tim has never said it was – ever.

    I can only assume that Tim’s openness about his beliefs really upsets some people and in a liberal party that troubles me, because it has not always been the case. it should not matter to us whether someone is a person or faith or no faith when they stand for office in the party.

  • Helen:
    Irrespective of religion, if a leader tries to justify any action on the basis that there is no proof that it will not work, I have to consider them as dangerous and a liability.

    If someone wears an amulet or puts on a ‘lucky’ tie or other clothing, I might be mildly amused but not the least bothered as it would be for them personally and if it helps them get through the day good ‘luck’ to them! It is in the public sphere that alarms me; it is the sort of argument that is used to excuse ideologically based evidence free policies. Politician: “Fund X and Y will improve” –
    Objector: “but you have no evidence”
    Politician; “how do you know funding X will not improve Y”
    Objector: “the inadequacy of your argument is evidence enough, I couldn’t trust anyone who imagines that kind of argument is remotely adequate”.

  • Helen Tedcastle 15th May '15 - 4:06pm


    ‘…if a leader tries to justify any action on the basis that there is no proof that it will not work, I have to consider them as dangerous and a liability.’

    So what you are claiming is that someone with a faith is dangerous and a liability. It does not seem to matter whether this kind of healing is complementary to science from their viewpoint, it is simply incredulous to you from your position.

    Whether it is or not, my question was whether as a liberal you are tolerant of the rights of others in the party to hold some views which are contrary to your way of thinking and even when it does not effect a. their ability to do the job b. does not contradict their equally held view on the importance of science, as well as use of evidence and fact-based policy-making.

  • “their ability to do the job”

    Acting on the basis that there is no proof it will not work, clearly does affect a person’s “ability to do the job”. It was that kind of faulty logic that led to the invasion of Iraq.

    As for personal religious views: people can believe what they like, however my practical advice to politicians would be the more crackpot their beliefs the better they would do to keep their beliefs to themselves.

    I recall Lembit Öpik was much exercised by the risk of an asteroid colliding with the Earth. Despite this being a real if quite small risk, it elicited ridicule that he really could have done without. On a practical level, he would have done better to have pursued his ideas less ostentatiously.

  • @ Martin

    I don’t understand why you object to someone saying, “You have banned this action because you believe there is no evidence that the action works, please can you let me know what evidence you have based this on?”

    This is not the same as saying, “You have banned this action because you believe there is no evidence that the action works, but you are wrong because I know it works”

    The letter is ambiguous about which it is.

    However I thought there was some research into the power of prayer and that sometimes it does make a difference. I don’t think this applies to “healing events”.

    @ Helen Tedcastle

    I am not sure people are saying that Tim Farron should not be an MP because he is a Christian. However they do have legitimate concerns that his faith might reduce his ability to always present the liberal argument. I don’t know if he has any views where he supports the Christian tradition above liberal principles.

  • Helen Tedcastle 15th May '15 - 6:43pm


    Lembit Opik’s view on asteroids was nothing to do with any kind faith but more to do with his father’s work as a university professor of Astrophysics.

    Your argument now seems to be, because Tony Blair had a faith as did George Bush and they took their countries into Iraq, we can’t risk putting someone with a faith into a leadership position.

    Bill Clinton wore his faith very lightly and bombed Serbia. Stalin was an atheist and killed millions as a result of his policy decisions, as did Pol Pot.

    So the question of whether beliefs/assumptions influence whether someone can do the job they’re appointed to, applies to everyone equally, regardless.

    It doesn’t follow as an argument because of the number of possible variables.

    I notice you did not directly answer the question I put – twice.

  • Helen Tedcastle 15th May '15 - 7:33pm

    Michael BG

    It is perfectly feasible to be a Christian and a Liberal. Generations of Liberals before us have been radicals, non-conformists and persons of faith at the same time. Indeed a number have lead this party.

    Perhaps it is support for a particular practice/claim of prayer that concerns some people.

    Here’s a good liberal defence of his position:

  • Personal religious sentiment concerns only the personal subject, other than that, Deorum injuriæ Diis curæ.

    As to whether I am tolerant of unsupported, evidence free assertions, no I am not. People are free to make them, but they cannot expect my approval and I reject anyone who allows such assertions affect decisions in the public domain. So far as I know homoeopathy is not a religious cult, at least not generally considered such, but the same applies, the objection is not necessarily related to religion..

  • Helen Tedcastle 15th May '15 - 11:20pm

    ‘Personal religious sentiment concerns only the personal subject,’

    In which case it might be worth reading this which illustrates the enormous influence of religious groups/individuals on the development of and success of the Liberal Party. Not so much personal sentiment but very much socially-orientated and in the case of the free church Christians, dissenting.

  • @ Helen Tedcastle
    I was not persuaded by the defence Stephen Tall made of Tim Farron preferring my own. (I would like political factual claims to have to be true as well.) As I said I believe the letter is very badly worded, but when it is reduced to what requires an answer we are left with “We write to express our concern at this decision (not allow a Christian group to say that God can heal people) and to enquire about the basis on which it has been made.”

    I think this is a reasonable question to ask.

    As I said I believe there was a study on the power of prayer and if I recall correctly prayer worked for all religions not just Christianity. However I can’t find this study on the internet and in all research I could find referred to stated that there has not been a significant benefit to someone’s health if they are prayed for.

    I don’t know enough about how Tim Farron’s Christianity affects his Liberalism. It could have no effect. However it might have some limited effects and this is not very important in an MP but for the leader of the party it is. You know that some traditional Christian views can lead a person not to support some personal freedoms for some such as equal marriage.

    I do know that in the past leaders of political parties including the Liberal Party have been Christians, but this does not mean that there were not times when their Christianity led them to not take the pure liberal view on personal freedoms and equality.

  • While the risk of an asteroid collision is indeed quite low (and over the lifetime of any individual very close to nil) the consequences of such a collision are so immense as to be worth at least some attention, and the amount of investment required to be at least aware of potential impactors is comparatively small.

  • David-1:
    Very low probability with very high impact is always a risk that defies any attempt at quantification. Yet the issue is real. Despite this Öpik attracted plenty of ridicule; pragmatically he might have done better to have made less of it. The issue was widely perceived, rightly or wrongly, as nutty.

    Not so nutty as a belief that prayer recovers the life of a footballer, whose collapse hits the headlines, while prayer does nothing for thousands are killed in earthquakes and other disasters. To think that journalists and opponents would not make hay of this particular pecadillo is wildly unrealistic.

    At least a concern about a collision with an asteroid can be rationalised and defended, but not dualistic claims that physical matter can be controlled by a spiritual other world. Anyone who buys into this sort of dualism is not in a position to reject a priori other dualistic and objectionable claims such as floods or HIV are divine punishments. There might be a few who would be attracted by this sort of religious outlook, but I would suggest many more would be repelled.

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