Opinion: Why I would follow Tim

 

I joined the Liberal Democrats a couple of weeks ago. For the most part I joined because of Nick Clegg, whose eloquence and calmness intrigued me and piqued my interest in the moderate course. I had decided before the general election that I was going to join after my exams and I was distraught when I realised I would never be following Nick.

I wanted to follow Nick because he was genuine, he could be funny, and he was gracious. I could also tell he was a very smart man who understood his party’s policies and was dedicated to the principles of liberalism. From watching Tim on ‘Question Time’, I could tell he was genuine, funny and gracious, possibly more so than Nick. What I was worried about was the second part of what I admired in Nick.

I saw Norman Lamb as the man who was dedicated to liberalism – his adamant attitude about the importance of mental healthcare, his radical stance on the legalisation of cannabis. I suppose I saw him as the other half of Nick.

Then I thought about why Nick had to resign. I saw images of Liberal Democrats crying during his resignation speech. I read our comments on newspaper articles about how history would treat him fairer than the electorate. For a long time, I hoped he would pull a Nigel Farage and we’d get him back. But the problem with Nick is that the public don’t trust him, and don’t trust us by extension. From there I realised that the people a leader needed to convince were the public, the outside world.

Next, I watched the tributes to Charles Kennedy. I really didn’t want to turn these heartfelt tributes into something political, but it just popped out so vibrantly at me. Norman Lamb devoted a large part of his tribute (47 minutes in) to the need to develop adequate mental health facilities so that the alcoholism Charles had to contend with is not as mountainous an obstacle in the future. I could not admire more the work that Norman Lamb is doing in mental health. It is his speciality, which is evident in how readily Charles’s struggles popped into his head. Norman Lamb would be my ideal Minister for Health, but not my ideal leader.

Tim, however, showed so much passion and true human, personal emotion that for the entire duration of the tributes I could see the strain on his face of holding back a flood of tears. He mentioned that Charles Kennedy was a great leader because he got people in the gut. This is how Nick Clegg achieved the dizzying heights of Cleggmania and how I believe Tim Farron can inspire the outside world in the future.

 

* Joanne Ferguson joined the Liberal Democrats in May

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96 Comments

  • David Faggiani 8th Jun '15 - 11:42am

    I’m still undecided, but I’m actually leaning more towards Lamb than Farron. Lamb seems to actually be going for some bold policies, with some substance. But I’ve not made up my mind yet. You make a good case though, and your reasons for supporting Farron are mine for perhaps going with him. I’m going along to the Leadership hustings in London mid-month, hoping that will clarify things for me.

  • Helen Quenet 8th Jun '15 - 12:07pm

    I still haven’t made up my mind. I need to see them in the flesh at the hustings to really compare them. Both men have very strong claims. Whoever wins though needs to make sure we make ourselves as visible as possible nationally and locally. At national demos we need to be seen as an identifiable LIb Dem group not just as individuals people in the crowd.

  • matt (Bristol) 8th Jun '15 - 12:22pm

    Joanne, in your honesty about your internal processes I think you encapsulate the fact that so many people are finding this harder to choose than they thought.

    I went to a hustings over the weekend and was fascinated by the contrasts, the nuances and the similarities in what the two candidates are saying. I have decided I am not saying who I am voting for.

    What I will say is, we need to give the next leader – whoever they are – 2 elections, if we can. That’s ten years. They need to try to decisively disengage form the negative perceptions of us during the coalition and carve out a clear identity that shows our strengths, can be trusted by those who have dismissed us, and stays convincing during what could easily be a rollercoaster period:
    – what if Greece leaves the EU
    – what if Britain leaves the EU
    – what if Scotland or Northern Ireland leaves the UK
    – what if the Tory party splits
    – what if our party in Scotland chooses separation from the Federal party
    – what if we lose further seats at the next election, depite feeling revitalised and running a better campaign
    – what if we get an unexpected voting change but then voters don’t fall into our laps

    I think I heard both candidates saying words to the effect of ‘we have no right to exist’ (something people in Labour are also saying). And i felt optimistic and gee-ed up. And then I walked out into streets where multiple houses were still displaying ‘Vote Green Party’ posters.

    This is a long, long haul. We need to be very determined but also hold our collective nerve, whoever we choose.
    At least the candidates seem to respect each other and are not sniping, scrapping and biting at each other like irritable terriers, as seemed to happen last time round.

  • Julian Tisi 8th Jun '15 - 12:24pm

    A lovely article. Welcome to the Party by the way!

    I too am going for Tim and for similar reasons. Both Norman and Tim are clearly dedicated liberals but I think Tim has more of the x-factor in reaching the general public.

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Jun '15 - 1:51pm

    I agree that Norman was a better health minister than is a leadership candidate, but I am concerned that Farron has come to the same conclusion as Andy Burnham: Labour and the Lib Dems don’t need to become more pro business policy wise, just language wise.

    The policy proposals from Burnham and Farron are carrying on in the tradition of offering crumbs to businesses, but using more grateful language.

    I also think Lamb has a small problem with engaging with activists. I don’t expect people to be like Tim in this regard, but I expected a simple thanks considering I was among the first to call for him to be leader and did my bit over 12 months to promote his name above the other MPs. He probably didn’t see it, but I think anyone going for leader needs to have “eyes” in all sections of the party and be aware of what is going on and being discussed.

    Best regards

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Jun '15 - 1:59pm

    Oh and I also emailed Lamb’s office with a photo and some praise, which they have used on their website and I have still not received a thanks and I sent another email expressing my thoughts on the matter and still not received a reply.

    So it is not personal, but yes I think it all adds up to the Lamb camp having a small problem in engaging with supporters and activists.

  • I’m sorry to say this folks, but we are a very small party now. We need a leader who can capture headlines and stand out. That’s Tim right?

  • tom: You could be right, but of course it would have to be for the right reasons, (though it is impossible to know if either is hiding something).

    Tim Farron’s attachment to evangelistic Christianity could turn out to be an unpredictable Achilles’ heel or simply a polarising ‘marmite’ issue. The accepted wisdom in UK politics has been that it is a negative for a UK politician to ‘do’ religion.

  • David Evans 8th Jun '15 - 3:13pm

    Since when did Liberals do anything but cock a snook at ‘accepted wisdom’?

  • Welcome Joanne. As a long-standing member (30+ years and counting, God help me!) I am just in awe of the people who have joined us since May 7th. You clearly belong with us and I’m so glad you’re here.
    I too am backing Tim. If anyone is undecided I would urge them to watch his conference speeches on youtube. In particular the one in 2013. This shows all the passion and drive that you are talking about. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ga6hL932ys

  • Simon Foster 8th Jun '15 - 4:11pm

    Welcome Joanne! Nice article, good to hear that you are supporting Tim as leader as a new member 🙂

    For contrast, here’s my take on Tim, with why you don’t often see the words “Lib Dem gain from Communist”, some 25 years ago:

    https://www.the-newshub.com/uk-politics/get-tim

  • matt (Bristol) 8th Jun '15 - 5:02pm

    “Tim Farron’s attachment to evangelistic Christianity could turn out to be an unpredictable Achilles’ heel or simply a polarising ‘marmite’ issue.”

    Or it could turn out to be non-issue in substantive terms, just as Tony Blair’s conversion to Catholicism was an interesting additional fact, something gossipped about but irrelevant to the success or failure of his leadership and period as Prime Minister.

    “The accepted wisdom in UK politics has been that it is a negative for a UK politician to ‘do’ religion.”

    Or is it just another untested and unproven nostrum? If you think Tim Farron’s Christianity is going to make him less popular as our leader, where is your opinion polling evidence? Even if there has been any research into this, why should we be constrained from choosing anyone from leader of any party because they publicly claim membership of any given religion?

    If – if – I vote for Tim, the fact that he and I are co-religionists will not sway me to vote for him. If – if – I don’t vote for him and vote for Norman Lamb, the lack of religious adherence that Norman Lamb has will be similarly irrelevant to me.

    Look, Tim’s religion is only an issue because of speculation that it might constrain him to illiberal positions on abortion, sexuality or other ethical issues. He has said it doesn’t. You can believe him or disbelieve him in that and vote accordingly, and I don’t really care, but don’t go on about it ad nauseum or you will create and further the idea that his religion is an issue, and then future broadsheet articles can link back here to evidence speculative gossip-pieces when his leadership is under fire in future – should he win – and say ‘Tim Farron’s Christianity has always been controverisal in his own party’, thus reinforcing a completely unnecessary and trivial way the cliche you are promoting and putting into the mouth of ‘accepted wisdom’.

    Vote for him or not for any given reason you choose, but don’t talk deliberately vauge, innuendo-laden gossippy tripe.

    Christianity is not inherently illiberal, just as Catholicism was not inherently anti-British in the 19th century, and Communism was not inerently anti-American in the 50s. Grow up.

  • I joined only a few days ago. I think both candidates are good but I am particularly attracted to the gritty radicalism of Tim, and I am more of a social democrat than an economic liberal. I come from the left but find I’m so much more at liberty to express myself in the Lib Dems without being a slave to outdated and idealistic dogma.

  • In the US, it seems to be de rigueur to espouse ‘hard’ Christianity. In the UK the tendency among politicians has been a kind of soft Christianity, with increasing acceptance of a non religious position. The issue with evangelical and ‘hard’ religions is that they inherently claim some kind of exclusive authority and inevitably sit uneasily in a multi-faith (and non-faith) society. The Liberal position, as I see it, is to strongly defend anyone’s personal inclinations and that this should have no relevance so long as these inclinations remain personal. On these grounds, I do not want to over blow the issue. Although I may raise concerns occasionally, particularly because I would like to be more reassured than I am, I do take not of the dangers of upping the ante on this.

  • matt (Bristo): p.s. I was more or less with you until you blew it in your last paragraph.

  • Kevin Manley 8th Jun '15 - 8:57pm

    Well I’m a hardened atheist and I’m supporting Tim. If there was any evidence of his beliefs defining his policy positions on things like gay marriage and faith schools that might be different, but there isn’t.

  • Philip Rolle 8th Jun '15 - 9:39pm

    For me it’s down to two questions. Does the party want to get back in government? If so, who is best suited to lead you there?

    For my money, the answers are “Yes” and Norman Lamb ( because he could enter another coalition with the Conservatives ). But I suspect that most Lib Dem members, the answers are “No” and Tim Fallon. I think you should be careful about this. It’s fine to attract protest votes. But a party should not exist purely for the purposes of protesting in opposition.

  • Matt (Bristol) 8th Jun '15 - 9:51pm

    Martin, I think I did suddenly explode rather unnecessarily in my last paragraph. Sorry.

    But I am frustrated with a view that says that religion is the enemy of modern society precisely because it is ‘irrational’ and that therefore Tim cannot lead the party. This was espoused at the hustings I attended and I find this and the distinction you make between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ expressions of religion are annoyingly ahistorical in a party whose fight for tolerance of differing philosophical and religious positions was often sustained by those who believed strongly and fiercely and in some ways ‘conservatively’ but realised that if they were to be free do so others also needed to be free. A ‘hard’ and unrelenting -and outspoken – personal faith has often been perfectly compatible in many cases in the past with an agressive defence of religious tolerance in the public sphere as a human right to all, naming no Victorian Prime Ministers.

    I think the gratuitous attacks on Sarah Teather in the past have also annoyed me on this score. I don’t think any Christians in the party (given it has a longterm commitment to disestablish the church of England) are trying to re-establish theocratic rule, really.

  • Joanne Ferguson 8th Jun '15 - 10:04pm

    Thanks for all the feedback on my article! Also thank you for the amazing welcome I keep getting from libdems all over the internet 😀

  • Kevin Manley 8th Jun '15 - 10:18pm

    Going back into coalition with the Tories would be disastrous and really would finish off the party. The party needs in my view to rediscover the “democrat” bit of its name which people often forget is shorthand for social democracy. The big mistake of the last 5 years is not realising that the support built up over the Ashdown / Kennedy era that took the party to its most successful result in the modern age was fundamentally anti-Tory and left-leaning, but also against the authoritarian control freakery of the Labour years and their trampling on civil liberties. That support has deserted the party in droves both upon going into coalition in 2010, and then subsequently with some of the things the Tories have been allowed to get away with. Some of that support may now come back if the party is seen to have learned that lesson from the kicking it has repeatedly got at elections over the past 5 years. I quite like Norman Lamb but Tim is the only one of the two of them potentially able to climb that mountain.

  • @matt(Bristol) “Look, Tim’s religion is only an issue because of speculation that it might constrain him to illiberal positions on abortion, sexuality or other ethical issues. He has said it doesn’t.”

    It’s not as simple as that. In our largely secular country, overt religious affiliation, especially of an evangelical Christian disposition, is looked at askance. At best it is viewed as eccentric; at worst as slightly sinister through being overly judgemental.

    Rightly or wrongly as it may be, it certainly won’t help to broaden our appeal to the electorate at large.

  • Philip Rolle 8th Jun '15 - 11:04pm

    But a coalition with Labour in 2020 is not going to happen. They are not going to get enough seats. The only chance of a stake in governing the country in 2020 is with the Conservatives. If you reject that, then the party is on the outside for at least ten years. What is the use of that?

  • Matt (Bristol) 8th Jun '15 - 11:19pm

    Philip — as I said earlier, my gut is this process of party rebuilding is going to take longer than 2020. I don’t think this party reentering government in 2020, after the battering we’ve taken, would have a lot of credibility, whoever we did a deal with.

  • Kevin Manley 8th Jun '15 - 11:24pm

    Probably none. Survival maybe. Control or influence the narrative to promote a more liberal and more social democratic agenda. Confidence and supply if there’s a hung parliament next time. Opposition isn’t entirely pointless. There are – evidently from the Lib Dems performances over the past 5 years – VERY few previous Lib Dem voters who think propping up the Tories is / was a price worth paying to get some of its policies through. The Clegg / Alexander / Laws brand of liberalism doesn’t seem to have attracted any new support to replace them. Rebuilding the party from the bottom up doesn’t in my view include making the same mistake that caused the annihilation in the first place.

  • Joanne Ferguson 9th Jun '15 - 12:05am

    Kevin, as I mentioned, Nick Clegg is one of the main reasons I joined. I don’t know, maybe I’m alone in this, but it certainly worked for me.

  • @Joanne Fergusson you’re most certainly not alone. I suspect the large majority of the new members agree with you, as do many if the existing members.

    Reading the comments section of LDV can give a false impression, but you have to remember that the same small band of commenters posting anyi-Clegg comments thousands of times does not necessarily represent the majority view.

  • @Matt (Bristol) no-one can forecast the seismic events that might discredit either or both of the main parties between now and 2020. One thing is certain with FPTP; it can take away, but it can also give back if a tipping point is reached.

  • @Kevin Manley Roughly half of the 2010 voters jumped ship as soon as we entered coalition and closed their minds to anything we might deliver. That’s what happens when your electoral strategy is based on being against something rather than for something and is not consistent. Too many years of “only the lib dems can stop X here”

  • I am really apprehensive about having a leader of our party who has a strong religious agenda. Eric Pickles, for instance, as communities minister wasn’t shy in using his position to push religion into the public space. As a result religious prayers, by law, can now feature on the public agenda of council meetings. Let’s not even get onto the issue of the expansion of religious faith schools, funded by all tax payers but not open to the children of all tax payers. We ignore this stuff at our peril!

  • Peter Watson 9th Jun '15 - 7:55am

    @TCO “you have to remember that the same small band of commenters posting anyi-Clegg comments thousands of times does not necessarily represent the majority view.”
    Over the last 5 years the editorial tone of LDV has been very much pro-Clegg and the 50+ MPs and their staff could easily have drowned out that “small band of commenters” before we even consider the 40000 members that could have weighed in to express their support for the party’s direction of travel but did not.

    I don’t think anybody, inside or outside the party, knows what is the majority view, and that is the Lib Dems’ biggest problem, and a bizarre one for a party which is so openly democratic.

  • Kevin Manley 9th Jun '15 - 8:04am

    @TCO but who’s replacing them though? They jumped ship because the Lib Dems were supposed to be a progressive party . I was mildly in favour of going into coalition in 2010, given the maths, but some of the stuff that has been done over that period that has nothing to do with the deficit and that LDs have had to wave through just isn’t worth it. The pushing of academies and free schools, raiding teachers pensions so that effectively theres an extra tax on public workers,, the top down reorganisation of health, the bedroom tax, the unfair reorganisation of local government so that the more deprived an area is the less money it seems to get, the sell off of Royal Mail for buttons. Its just not worth it for a few Lib Dem policies the Tories seemed to get the credit for anyway and a referendum on a change to the voting system that wouldn’t even have been proportional.

  • TCO 9th Jun ’15 – 6:32am……………………@Joanne Fergusson you’re most certainly not alone. I suspect the large majority of the new members agree with you, as do many if the existing members. Reading the comments section of LDV can give a false impression, but you have to remember that the same small band of commenters posting anyi-Clegg comments thousands of times does not necessarily represent the majority view….

    Whatever view you hold; try looking at the facts… Clegg’s leadership, and those around him, have been an unmitigated disaster for the party (and the country)….Becoming the soft wing of the Tory party resulted in the loss of hundreds of local councillors, 9/10 MEPs and most of our MPs…..
    Blaming those who ‘left’ the party is just irrational. We were constantly being told that the unwanted ‘left’ would be more than replaced by ‘new’ voters. Every poll and every election showed they weren’t but the facts were ignored and the ‘fantasy’ went on……
    Trying to ‘restart’ the party by continuing along the same path will give the same result; pretending otherwise is ‘madness’….

  • Robert
    Faith and the power of prayer are strongly needed by the Liberal Democrats now.
    Don’t worry like all good Liberals Tim believes in the separation of Church and State.
    Good men and woman the bishops may be but they don’t belong in Parliament.
    It is always important to follow high moral standards. I remember when I was out delivering leaflets
    in the Christchurch bye-election years ago I saw a Conservative leaflet in someone’s porch and I was tempted to take it. I thought no that would be stealing so I got out my pen drew the horns and tail on the picture of the Conservative candidate and put the leaflet back.

  • A hearty welcome Joanne and all new members.

    I am from the Paddy Ashdown/Charles Kennedy era but lost active interest during the coalition because I didn’t know what the party stood for any more.

    This is my first post and as a returnee, before the election, I instinctively feel Tim would be the better leader to take the party on and capture headlines (as Tom says) for the right reasons.

    Eddie, how can Norman reply personally to thousands of emails? Believe that your comments have been noted.

    Thanks Tony for pointing us to the YouTube conference speeches of Tim. ‘They Work For You’ website is also interesting.

  • Nadine Storey 9th Jun '15 - 8:51am

    Joanne this is very well expressed and reflects my own position spookily accurately.

    I had been leaning towards Norman on policy issues but then saw him on QT and was underwhelmed. I won’t make a final decision until after attending the East Mids hustings but am currently leaning towards Tim based on his likely greater appeal to the general public. This feels like compromising which is a shame but then this is my first experience of having a say in electing a party leader. I am starting to see why all parties have made mistakes in their choice of leader over the years as it really isn’t easy. I do think it is a shame that the leader has to be an MP as it would have been interesting to see some other options, especially some women.

    For the record, I joined on the day of the 2015 election results in utter dismay at the outcome. I thought Nick Clegg was a great leader and that going into coalition was the right thing to do. I think Lib Dems made a real difference to the country over the last 5 years.

  • @Pete Watson “before we even consider the 40000 members that could have weighed in to express their support for the party’s direction of travel but did not.”

    Nor did the weigh in to express their dissent at the party’s direction; indeed you could argue that the dissenters were the ones who left.

    But I agree with you. The members need to be consulted much more frequently than they are now; certainly for all policy decisions. We don’t need conference votes and cumbersome committees for this.

  • matt (Bristol) 9th Jun '15 - 9:08am

    Joanne, it is entirely possible to feel Nick Clegg was honourable and that relatively good things (although compromises) were achieved by LibDem participation in coalition, but yet still feel that mistakes were made and the overall outcome (due to hard, negative work on Tory side of the deal) was bad for the party.

  • @Kevin Manley the point is that when your political pitch is to not be someone else, as ours has been for decades, as soon as you make a choice about which way to go you will alienate some of your support. And to take some of your other points:

    “The pushing of academies and free schools,”

    More than 50% of Lib Dem voters are in favour of retaining and/or extending Grammar School provision (see recent YouGov)

    “raiding teachers pensions so that effectively there’s an extra tax on public workers,”

    Pension reform is required because of demographic change. This is the same across all sectors of the population and the teaching profession cannot expect to be exempt from the same reforms that every other sector of society, including those much less well remunerated than teachers, are subject to.

    “the top down reorganisation of health,”

    Every government since its inception in 1947 has foisted top down reorganisation on the NHS.

    “the bedroom tax,”

    This was not implemented well but the basic principle is a sound one.

  • @expats “Blaming those who ‘left’ the party is just irrational. ”

    I’m not. My point was a different one; namely that a pitch to the electorate of “only the Lib Dems can stop X here” was bound to end in disaster as soon as a coalition was entered.

    We’d have had the same result from a coalition with Labour in 2010 had the maths been viable.

  • @Geo Meadows “I see an alternative to getting the seats we need, that’s the Progressive Alliance idea flown by Caroline Lucas. Basically split the seats we contest and not split the votes. Who knows, Labour may end up as a progressive too. And they may be just desperate enough to join an alliance. The Tories are digging in, they’ll be there indefinitely unless we do something radical.”

    If you really want to kill off the party this is the best way to do it. Our current voters have rejected protest and proto-Marxism; an unholy alliance with the Greens and Labour would persuade them to desert us and then we’d be left with nothing.

  • @Matt (Bristol) “Joanne, it is entirely possible to feel Nick Clegg was honourable and that relatively good things (although compromises) were achieved by LibDem participation in coalition, but yet still feel that mistakes were made and the overall outcome (due to hard, negative work on Tory side of the deal) was bad for the party.”

    Indeed it is, Matt.

    However the majority anti-Clegg position, at least as it is expressed in the comments section here, does not take this position. Rather it is against him as a person (believing him to be duplicitous, a Tory entryist, deliberately trying to wreck the party etc) and against the Liberal position he held.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Jun '15 - 10:15am

    Hi Joan, I don’t expect a personal reply, but a member of staff didn’t reply either, so I just felt ignored.

    It is not personal, but I am not one to let my thoughts get me depressed by swilling them around in my head. I like to express them. Privately at first, which I did.

    Best regards

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jun '15 - 10:24am

    TCO

    More than 50% of Lib Dem voters are in favour of retaining and/or extending Grammar School provision (see recent YouGov)

    Yes, and what would they say if you ask them did they support the idea of pushing most children into secondary modern schools? I think they’d say they were against that.

    Yet the two positions are one and the same, you cannot have one without the other. Talking about grammar schools without also taking about secondary modern schools is biased. It’s putting the good points of a policy without the balancing bad points. Well, that’s something which people do when they want to get a particular answer. Most ordinary people are not that well informed and don’t think things through, so can very easily be persuaded to express a particular point of view so long as you express it in a way that only mentions its positives.

    This is what we see with taxation and government expenditure. The political right puts it all in terms of taxation, asks people “Are you in favour of low taxation?” and the people answer “Yes”, and the political right says “See, the people agree with us”. The political left puts it all in terms of state services, asks people “Are you in favour of high quality state services?” and the people answer “Yes”, and the political left says “See, the people agree with us”. Neither is willing to talk properly about the reality that there is a balance to be achieved here. If you push them, both will attempt some sort of hand-waving, the right saying “Oh, it’s not all about money, we can improve services without spending more on them”, the left saying “Oh, better state services will lead to a better society, so it will save in the long run”. But in reality what the right-wing position means here is “We’ll cut the budget, and cross our fingers and hope somehow cheaper ways can be found to run things. In reality what the left-wing positions means is “We’ll borrow money, cross our fingers and hope somehow it will all get better and we can raise money to pay off the debts later”. In reality neither of these positions have worked, and we are now hit with the fact that crossing fingers does not solve difficult problems.

  • |@Matthew Huntbach “Yes, and what would they say if you ask them did they support the idea of pushing most children into secondary modern schools? I think they’d say they were against that. ”

    Matthew that’s simply not true.

    For starters the original 1944 Act had three sorts of schools, so right from the beginning not attending a Grammar School did not necessarily mean going to a Secondary Modern.

    Secondly, we already have the concept of Specialist Schools – Arts, Technology, Science, Sports, Music etc. Why not one for pupils who have academic ability generally? There is no reason why this specialisation should not take place in the non-Grammar schools.

    Thirdly, several other European countries operate a tripartite system based on selection through academic ability. Germany most notably – the same Germany that is an economic basket case.

    At present if you want your child to send an academically selective school you have two options: move to Lincolnshire, Buckinghamshire or Kent; or go private. Which is no option at all.

  • David Evans 9th Jun '15 - 10:50am

    TCO Yet again you come out with sweeping statements that seem to be simply designed to denigrate those who knew what a mess Nick was making of coalition and had the courage to say so. You say they are against him as a person (believing him to be duplicitous, a Tory entryist, deliberately trying to wreck the party). This is quite simply a fabrication. Very few posters and none of those who post regularly do such, but they have had a clear message that Nick’s approach was a disaster for Liberal Democracy, whether it was with his management of being in coalition, his deliberately ignoring two democratic votes in Conference against Secret Courts or any of the other issues that were discussed at the time. You derided them before the election and they were proved right, and you were proved wrong. You continue to do so now and they are still right and you remain wrong.

    If members continue to follow your approach of little was wrong and pretend that undoing any part of the Nick’s failed experiment will be a return to protest and ‘proto-Marxism’ we will continue to decline and within the next two elections there will be no Lib Dem MPs left. I thought Nick’s approach was reckless and a danger to the party and its values, but at least at the end he had the courage and humility to admit his failure and move over. I really think you should follow his example instead of promoting yet more failure.

  • @David Evans are you seriously suggesting that none of the regular anti-Clegg posters (and we all know who they are) have ever accused him of being a Tory Entryist, duplicitous and trying to wreck the party? There is a considerable anti-Clegg personal animus at work and you know it, so stop trying to deny it. Posters like Matt (Bristol) are far more reasonable in their approach.

  • TCO 9th Jun ’15 – 9:17am…………….. However the majority anti-Clegg position, at least as it is expressed in the comments section here, does not take this position. Rather it is against him as a person (believing him to be duplicitous, a Tory entryist, deliberately trying to wreck the party etc) and against the Liberal position he held……….

    I don’t believe anyone has made personal attacks nor accused him of deliberately wrecking the party….However, I will accuse him of believing far more in the policies of the Tory led coalition than in those the party espoused prior to the 2010 election….It wasn’t my imagination that saw him ‘nodding along’ when the NHS, Bedroom Tax, etc. bills were presented…..

  • @expats thank you. You’ve disproved Mr Evans’ point quite nicely.

  • We have two great candidates and whichever is elected leader will spend all his time gathering back the millions we lost through the issue of trust. We need a great campaigner who will mop up those millions who were not solidly with us – particularly from Labour and Greens – who will value our unique qualities again – over time. Can we please forget the Tories who might join us as the majority of them clearly do not support all sectors of society. And society will surely judge the Tories and turn to a solid centre-left party which can once again be trusted. Trusted to deliver!

  • Neil Sandison 9th Jun '15 - 12:09pm

    the question for me will be can either of the leadership contenders balance both sides of the Liberal Democrat coin which is of equal value and create a radical ,progressive, social and liberal democratic party that’s more about campaigning for our values than complaining about the difference of emphasis our competitors put on their spin to the electorate .Labour failed because it did not convince the electorate on its sincerity in policy terms or its values which underpinned those policy promises .The words didn’t match the actions .We now have 3 political parties in Westminster who are centrist and authoritarian to the core namely the Conservatives ,Labour and Scottish Nationalists theirs is a “.Its my way or no way”.Yet we know that “one size does not fit all” through our work in local government .We should forget about coalitions and pacts and deals until we have the numbers to ensure that we will not be bullied by a larger group as we were in the last government.We can only do that by ensuring we have a strong base of core voters and council seats on the ground to demonstrate our actions speak louder than words to our communities .and persuade the voters Liberal Democracy does what its says on the tin.

  • matt (Bristol) 9th Jun '15 - 12:50pm

    TCO:
    ‘In our largely secular country, overt religious affiliation, especially of an evangelical Christian disposition, is looked at askance … Rightly or wrongly as it may be, it certainly won’t help to broaden our appeal to the electorate at large.’

    Well. Er…

    a) If that is provably so for the majority of the country (which I somewhat doubt and have still seen no evidence on) then the utter neglectfulness of failing to disestablish the CoFE earlier is shown, as we have an ‘established church’ which would be manifestly completely out of tune with the nation as a whole (even if the ‘nation’ is defined as England, which reminds me – in a federal UK, even if we wanted to keep the CofE bishops, would we only be able to keep them in an English Parliament, and not in the Federal Parliament? — sorry, that’s digression)

    b) More relevantly to the rest of my eariler argument, by arguing against a candidate on the basis of their membership of a specific mode of religion, you and others are effectively positing a ‘glass ceiling’ arrangement by which Christian activists can work hard for the party, participate in the party, be footsoldiers, campaigners MPs etc etc but not lead because they might scare the electoral horses. This is nuts. I want a party in which anyone can be leader, whatever their background. As long as they can help us work out a constructive program of government and articulate it coherently for others to hear, I don’t care if when they go home they live in a nunneruy, have chosen to live in a family of 5 different partners of differing genders, worship Prince Phillip as part of a cargo-cult, join Richard Dawkins leafletting outside creationist conferences or whatever. And they can be as public about their non-political ideological or lifestyle choices as they want to be. This is not a beauty contest for the Ideologically Perfect Model Liberal, this is an election for someone to effectively lead an organisation, a post from which the person – whoever they are – has a right to Time Off and Doing Things Which They Are Not Directly Accountable To Federal Executive For.

    c) With regards to Tim being an evangelical Christian being a concern in and of itself, can you imagine if, on a thread about Majid Nawaz, someone had effectively posited that there were ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Muslims? Imagine that as well as you can, and the storm of fury and counter accusation that would result. Why is this issue different, please? For a political party that believes in liberal democratic values, there cannot be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Christians, there can only be individuals who hold invidual positions and are judged on their own merits.

    I really am running out of the reasonableness you unreasonably attribute to me elsehwere (as you will see above, I unfairly and unnecessarily fired a large dollop of unreasonable ire at Martin, for which I apologise, again).

    I think many people are engaging in fuzzy doublethink and its maddening and terrifying, as we are positing a society in which Christians cannot participate in public politcial debate as a party leader on the basis of ill-understood generalisations about what ‘people like that’ believe. Gadzooks.

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th Jun '15 - 1:16pm

    Joanne Ferguson | Mon 8th June 2015 – 11:38 am
    “Norman Lamb would be my ideal Minister for Health, but not my ideal leader.
    Tim, however, showed so much passion and true human, personal emotion that for the entire duration of the tributes I could see the strain on his face of holding back a flood of tears. He mentioned that Charles Kennedy was a great leader because he got people in the gut. This is how Nick Clegg achieved the dizzying heights of Cleggmania and how I believe Tim Farron can inspire the outside world in the future.”

    Well said Joanne. I have met Tim Farron; I have seen him with members and campainging amongst voters. He is the man you have glimpsed. He asks Liberal questions and provides clear Liberal solutions across a wide range of important issues.

    If Tim can not inspire the party and our supporters and voters between now and 2020, it is pretty certain none of our other MPs can.

    We will get just one chance to bounce back quickly. We need to pick the best man for this specific task not one we might like to see as a future minister for health.

  • Jez Bretherton 9th Jun '15 - 1:30pm

    Joanne,
    I was moved by your compassionate, personal, from the gut article.

    I am going to join the party today! Age 42.

    I’ve come to realise that ‘liberal with sincerity’ is the political stance I see best setting the agenda for our country, with all Its challenges and diversity of attitude.

    Often lambasted for being a wet liberal by my many Tory friends, or too conciliatory by by slightly less arrogant lefty labour supporters, I now feel there is tacit, if quiet acceptance of the liberal way.

    Maybe my politics were defined early? I trapsed the streets of Kidderminster in my youth (80’s) delivering FOCUS newsletter from our councillors. I understood something of what tacking local issues in a fair way looks like compared to the Conservative approach. (My 1st doomed relationship was with a joanne down the road who delivered the Tory newsletter-
    Just my luck!)

    I always felt Paddy calmed my anger at injustice or ineptitude. I didn’t dislike Blair, but I liked the heartfelt challenges that Paddy and Charlie highlighted to all of us.

    Just as Charles Kennedy was recognised for honestly expressing the Lib Dems preferred approach to the Iraq situation, I think Nick Clegg’s sensible efforts to bring liberal balance to a coalition government will be recognised with hindsight as a very great stand for the country. I had, and still have no doubts about Nick’s credibility. Sometimes we can all be in the right place at the wrong time!
    My last observation is that our party (I’ve just completed the direct debit) needs a leader that can speak with the whole country. let’s have someone who will
    build a vitality behind the Liberal Democratic movement so we all feel liberal “in our gut”.

    I do believe that most people are not party or political, but act from their gut. Please let’s have ideas for how liberal thinking can develop into our own best instinct for survival?
    Thanks, a brand new member very happy to be here!

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th Jun '15 - 1:36pm

    TCO – Norman Lamb was born in 1957 and Tim Farron in 1970.

    You have previously and frequently written off anyone born before 1965 as a baby boomer and a member of the “entitled generation”.

    Comment?

  • Kevin Manley 9th Jun '15 - 1:36pm

    I didn’t mention free schools / academies or any of the other policy areas because I am necessarily against them as a concept per se. Its not really about the policy but about it being an example of where the Tories have been allowed to push a Tory ideological policy with LD backing that has nothing to do with the apparent reason the Coalition was necessary, i.e. the deficit and getting the economy back on track. They have been pushing schools to convert to an academy where the governing body or parents do not wish to, so if nothing else illiberal, bribing them to convert to academy status by offering money up front, so depriving other schools of much needed resources from the education budget, prohibiting LEAs from opening new schools even where there is a proven need, and forcing local authorities to close LEA schools and gift the land they’re built on to an academy or free school provider, so depriving the local authority of the benefit of its own assets, transferring land and assets from public to private hands and closing perfectly good schools. All of this is based largely on Tory ideology and had nothing to do with the economy / deficit, which is supposed to be what the Coalition came together to focus on. It’s the same thing in the NHS – the LDs should never have allowed the Health and Social Care Act to pass, not least as nowhere was any of it in anyone’s 2010 manifesto.

  • @ Matt (Bristol) I’m not saying we shouldn’t do or be aware any of the things that you’ve said. All I’m saying is that evangelical Christianity makes the majority of people feel uncomfortable, and that that’s not necessarily a good thing if you’re trying to attract people to vote for you. It may be outweighed by lots of other things, but rest assured, if it can be used against us, it will be.

  • @Stephen Hesketh “You have previously and frequently [my italics] written off anyone born before 1965 as a baby boomer and a member of the “entitled generation”. ”

    I made that comment once, but clearly it touched a raw nerve 😉

    I would state that both Norman and Tim are exceptions that prove the rule 😀

  • TCO 9th Jun ’15 – 10:54am
    “……the regular anti-Clegg posters … .. accused him of being a Tory Entryist, duplicitous and trying to wreck the party?”

    My recollection is that most of the people who posted Comments in LDV which were critical of Nick Clegg’s actions as party leader did not suggest that he was a Tory entryist nor that he was duplicitous. I do not include myself in thatlite majority view of critics of Nick Clegg. Although I do not think he was especially “duplicitous”, he was just not very good as leader of the Liberal Democrats as the results of the last two general elections make only too clear.

    Of course it depends what you mean by “Tory Entryist”. If he had been a sleeper from the 1960s Soviet Communist Bloc with instructions to wreck the UK Liberal Democrats as an independent political party he would have struggled to have achieved more than he did.

    With the benefit of hindsight we know that he virtually wrecked the party, so I can agree with TCO on that part of what he said.

  • Peter Watson 9th Jun '15 - 2:47pm

    @TCO “More than 50% of Lib Dem voters are in favour of retaining and/or extending Grammar School provision (see recent YouGov)”
    I don’t know if you mean this survey that Google threw up, https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/gxvihxoixc/SundayTimesResults_150515_Website.pdf, but it asks about grammar schools on page 10-11.
    Browsing the part of that survey that covers a range of social and economic issues, from page 7 onwards, I am struck by the impression that Lib Dems really don’t know what they think. Relative to the other 3 parties they seem more split on fracking, grammar schools, the Human Rights Act, African migrants in the Mediterranean, and even Kevin Pietersen!
    Skimming the party political stuff in the first half of the survey (for which the fieldwork was a week after the general election) the Lib Dems are equally split between opinions of David Cameron as a PM, whether this government is good or bad for people like them, etc. The broadest agreement within the party in this survey appears to be that the Lib Dems perceive themselves as very slightly left of centre.

  • @Peter Watson yes that is the survey you mention. I note that 27% describe themselves as slightly left of centre, with only 11% saying slightly right of centre. However 31% describe themselves as centre. Given that a great many commenters here believe that the political centre of gravity has shifted rightwards in the last 30 years or so there is an argument to say that the party’s voters are positioned on the centre right by the metrics that the old guard would hold valid.

  • @Peter Watson also according to that survey 50% of Lib Dem voters believe that Grammar Schools raise standards in all schools.

  • matt (Bristol) 9th Jun '15 - 3:03pm

    TCO. Fair enough, I suppose, if that’s the limited point you’re trying to make, but subsitute any other religion (or a racial group) in the sentence you just wrote, and ponder a mo.

  • TCO 9th Jun ’15 – 11:00am …………[email protected] thank you. You’ve disproved Mr Evans’ point quite nicely…………….

    Really? I’ve re-read both our posts and to paraphrase a “Rose Garden” quote, “I see little difference between our views”

  • @Matt (Bristol) I’m not a big one for identity politics, but surely there is a difference in the context of this country because Christianity is the majority (and established) religion, not an “oppressed” minority.

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th Jun '15 - 3:51pm

    TCO9th Jun ’15 – 2:18pm
    “@Stephen Hesketh “You have previously and frequently [my italics] written off anyone born before 1965 as a baby boomer and a member of the “entitled generation”. ” I made that comment once, but clearly it touched a raw nerve ”

    OK, without me going and looking through the various threads I am not going to be able to prove it and I am not inclined to waste my time. You have however, on several occasions, made less than positive comments regarding those born before 1965. Just as today you are making comments concerning those who follow a faith.

    Matt (Bristol)’s comment is correct regarding today’s little prejudice you treat us to.

  • @Stephen Hesketh my concerns about the impact of having an overtly religious leader on our electoral fortunes are not “prejudice” (your word) but are based on fact:

    “‘There is also disquiet about the extent to which religious faith can lead to intolerance. Three quarters (73 per cent) of Britons maintain that “people with very strong religious beliefs are often too intolerant of others”. ”

    https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-belief-some-surveys-and-statistics/the-british-social-attitudes-survey/

    It is entirely correct that members voting in the leadership election should consider all aspects of a candidate’s suitability of which this is one.

  • David Evans 9th Jun '15 - 7:43pm

    TCO – Still taking valid points and pretending they support your flawed hypotheses? When will you stop? You continuously want to pretend it is personal about Nick. It is totally about the destruction of a once great party. expats post clearly supported my contention, but you carry on and claim it supports you. Your latest attempt is to take a prejudice against Christianity and pretend it is position held by most Lib Dems. You don’t know. You are just stirring things up, and you seem to just want to make mischief – apparently just against those who are trying to put right the loss of nearly 50 MPs.

  • Peter Watson 9th Jun '15 - 8:00pm

    TCO “Three quarters (73 per cent) of Britons maintain that “people with very strong religious beliefs are often too intolerant of others.”
    Coincidentally I’d say that at least three-quarters of Britons are often too intolerant of others 😉

  • Kevin Manley 9th Jun '15 - 8:46pm

    @TCO I am an atheist, former member of the BHA and a member of the National Secular Society and so hardly a religious nut and I agree it would be a problem if a leader defined his or the party’s policy positions based on his religious beliefs, promoting or givibg privileges to one religion over another (or religious inteests over non-religious interests, as happens ALL the time), or if they banged on about God all the time, but I really don’t think that is who Tim Farron is. He has supported gay marriage and has actually expressed support for moving towards a secular education system and disestablishment of the C of E. He also doesn’t seem to me to bang on about his faith much, or at all. Barring someone from being leader because they are religious is as crazy as barring someone because they aren’t and is just plain prejudice.

  • TCO “is entirely correct that members voting in the leadership election should consider all aspects of a candidate’s suitability of which this is one.”

    Tim Farron is not an unknown quantity. He was a very successful Party President until recently. I am not aware of his faith getting in the way of Tim doing a very good job in that role. Heck, it might even draw some liberal-minded people of faith to the Lib Dems and God knows, at 8% the Party needs every member it can get.

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th Jun '15 - 9:34pm

    Kevin Manley 9th Jun ’15 – 8:46pm
    Great points. You speak for me and my perspective also.

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th Jun '15 - 9:39pm

    David Evans 9th Jun ’15 – 7:43pm
    “TCO – Still taking valid points and pretending they support your flawed hypotheses? When will you stop? You continuously want to pretend it is personal about Nick. It is totally about the destruction of a once great party. Expats post clearly supported my contention, but you carry on and claim it supports you. Your latest attempt is to take a prejudice against Christianity and pretend it is position held by most Lib Dems. You don’t know. You are just stirring things up, and you seem to just want to make mischief – apparently just against those who are trying to put right the loss of nearly 50 MPs.”

    Great points. You speak for me and my perspective also.

    OK, someone might not be able to use their full name but ‘TCO’ are even this person’s initials. He/she is indeed clearly here just to stir things up and make mischief as you rightly (and politely) observe.

  • TCO and Martin
    Could you point out some evidence that Tim Farron is an “evangelical” Christian, please? Evangelists make it their business to convert people to their branch of religion… Does Tim Farron do that? He has said he is a “committed Christian, but that is a very different thing.

    If you don’t have that evidence, could you perhaps apologise for what in Lib Dem terms can only be described as a “smear”?

  • Nick Cotter 9th Jun '15 - 10:12pm

    I Agree with Kevin and Stephen !!!

  • Nick Cotter 9th Jun '15 - 10:13pm

    And Andrew !!!

  • @Andrew no apology required from me, but perhaps from you and everyone else on this thread accusing me of mischief making (and note this isn’t the Mail but the Grauniad):

    “But Farron, an evangelical Christian, added: “Put simply, there were a couple of amendments that were about the protection of essentially religious minorities, conscience protections, and I kind of voted for those. ”

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/17/tim-farron-nick-clegg-should-return-in-a-high-profile-party-role

  • I was very enthused by Nick Clegg in 2010. He got me out campaigning again after a period of burnout. I thought the coalition was a “brave” decision, to paraphrase “Yes Minister”, but did not oppose it as such. As a lifelong supporter of electoral reform I have always accepted that coalition government would be a necessity.

    But since it has not yet come up on this thread, I will mention the Pledge. Nick Clegg based much of his campaign on “we will keep our promises, unlike the others”. When I found that Nick Clegg was prepared to break a pledge that was not in the manifesto (which said something different), but which was made personally to the electorate, I resigned from the Party and vowed not to rejoin while he was leader. I kept to that even though I often still liked what Clegg said on many issues, and started to feel quite sorry for him. But to me the way you do politics is at the heart of Liberalism, much more important than any single issue, and breaking the pledge was a catastrophic error which was never forgiven by most of the electorate, whatever their views on tuition fees. “No point listening to him” they said

    I agree with many of the reasons to vote for Tim Farron mentioned above. In the tribute to Charles Kennedy he spoke directly to his son in a way that seemed genuine and unrehearsed. It brought tears to my eyes. But even if Norman Lamb were the more charismatic candidate, the pledge is the clincher for me

  • @Kevin in politics perception is everything, as my Guardian quote above shows. I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said but the message is filtered by the media and they’ve already pigeonholed him.

  • @Andrew you might also read this:

    “Farron sees that his responsibility, as a Christian with increasing prominence, is to “make the case for Christianity, and give people a chance to take it more seriously and look into it for themselves.” ”
    http://www.christiantoday.com/article/could.tim.farron.finally.quash.the.myth.that.christianity.and.liberalism.dont.mix/54016.htm

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th Jun '15 - 10:49pm

    Stephen Hesketh 9th Jun ’15 – 9:39pm
    “OK, someone might not be able to use their full name but ‘TCO’ are even this person’s initials. He/she is indeed clearly here just to stir things up and make mischief as you rightly (and politely) observe.”

    Hopefully it was obvious that I meant to write “AREN’T even this person’s initials.” !!!

  • Kevin Manley 9th Jun '15 - 10:54pm

    To be fair I think he is an evangelical Christian i.e. member of an evangelical church, rather than the mainstream C of E or Catholic churches. It’s just that he’s not very…er….evangelical about it!

  • well, Wikipedia says Tim is an Anglican, which is not normally regarded as an evangelical church…

    has he ever called himself an “evangelical Christian”? Or do we only have the word of the Grauniad for it?

    Anyway, Tim is a self-styled “Committed Christian”. I am an atheist. So long as he does not plan to chuck me out of the Party or impose his views on me (which he explicitly says he is not), then I am ok with him as a potential leader..

  • Peter Watson 10th Jun '15 - 12:03am

    According to The Guardian, “David Cameron has declared himself an “evangelical” about his Christian faith as he criticised some non-believers for failing to grasp the role that religion can have in “helping people to have a moral code”. (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/apr/16/david-cameron-evangelical-about-christian-faith)
    Didn’t seem to damage his chances of leading his party and the country, or reduce his popularity with Lib Dems of a more orange hue.

  • Kevin Manley 10th Jun '15 - 6:52am

    @andrew oh, not sure where I read that then, maybe it was wrong. I wouldn’t care eother way though as long as it wasn’t affecting policy.

  • Andrew 9th Jun ’15 – 11:37pm………………Anyway, Tim is a self-styled “Committed Christian”. I am an atheist. So long as he does not plan to chuck me out of the Party or impose his views on me (which he explicitly says he is not), then I am ok with him as a potential leader……………

    My thoughts exactly….As far as religion goes many politicians ( especially Tories it seems) have a habit of using religion like a coat; putting it on and off when it suits them……
    At least Tim is the genuine article and that, by itself, is worthy of respect….

  • @Andrew @Kevin there is an evangelical wing of the C of E. As I understand it they prefer the more modern style of service and are active recruiters, so to speak. They differ from those who prefer a more traditional style.

    The Oxford dictionary defines evangelical as “Of or denoting a tradition within Protestant Christianity emphasizing the authority of the Bible, personal conversion, and the doctrine of salvation by faith in the Atonement.” This appears to be in line with Tims public statements on his faith.

  • From Wikipedia – evangelical is synonymous with low church:

    “In contemporary usage, “low churches” place more emphasis on the Protestant nature of Anglicanism than broad or high churches and are usually Evangelical in their belief and practice. They may tend to favour the Book of Common Prayer services of Morning and Evening Prayer over the Eucharist, though the Diocese of Sydney has largely abandoned the Prayer Book and uses free-form evangelical services. Some contemporary low churches also incorporate elements of charismatic Christianity.”

  • The Church of England has, right from its split from Rome, always held together three streams of theology – Protestant (often referred to as Evangelicals), Catholic and Liberal (confusing, I know). They emphasise the importance of the Bible, tradition and reason respectively. Back in the 16th century, Richard Hooker referred to the CofE as a three-legged stool, meaning that all three are needed to keep a theological balance and to keep a structural balance within the institution.

    The three strands of thought are sometimes reflected in styles of worship (low and high, informal and formal, traditional or modern) but not always. They are also sometimes associated with conservative or liberal attitudes on social issues, but not always.

    The beauty of the Church of England is that it integrates all three strands as well as many other nuances. Non-Anglican churches often reflect one or more of the strands seen in the CofE, but it is difficult to pigeonhole them.

    Now there are Liberal Democrats within each Christian strand of thought – I come from a different one from Tim. But no Christian would join the Lib Dems unless they subscribed to its fundamental principles of liberty, equality and community – indeed many of us joined because this is a real expression of our values. But not all Christians do feel comfortable in the party, and no-one would join unless they did.

    We should avoid making easy assumptions about how someone is going to express their faith in practice, and instead judge them by their works.

  • Liberal Democrats of all stripes admire and praise Gladstone, a former party leader.
    How odd then that there are some in the Liberal Democrats who would try and score points in a leadership election based on the fact that one of the leadership candidates is said by his opponents to be a more devout Christian than the other.

    I believe that Liberalism is synonymous with secularism. I am not an atheist but I admire Charles Bradlaugh a Liberal MP and ardent atheist who was a contemporary of Gladstone but didn’t always admire and praise his party leader.
    My preference would be for all religions to wither away as education and knowledge replace superstition and fear.
    Not everyone agrees with me and some Liberal Democrats for whom I have the greatest respect believe in various strands of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism etc etc

    Rummaging through voting records to try and prove that someone is a less “true” Liberal could well backfire on the team using this tactic. For example, if the employment record of one the candidates were examined in minute detail all sorts of conclusions could be jumped to.

  • Well put Mary,

    I think we have to bear in mind that whether or not we believe in God the value system that most people adhere to in Britain is based on Christianity. Atheists and agnostics would call that Humanism. But most religions do seem to be able to accommodate a very wide range of social and political views – for example the present Pope seems to be very keen on social justice whereas some previous Popes have supported fascist regimes..

    My impression is that Christians within the Liberal Democrats are often the most passionate supporters of social justice and also people who are prepared to give up their time to help the disadvantaged. I have known some wonderful local councillors who have been Methodist ministers, for example.That can only be a positive thing. The people who would call themselves evangelists or perhaps “fundamentalists” in the USA, on the other hand, I generally find repugnant.

    As a scientist I find religion unscientific (God is an untestable hypothesis, for example). If people want to argue with me about religion I will argue back (does that make me an evangelical atheist?). I think that organised religion has often been an instrument of (male) power and strongly linked with Nationalism, and has therefore been a force for evil, not good in the world. And I do not like it if religion tries to impose a particular morality on me (that, for me, is illiberal). But if people do good works I will judge them by that, not their beliefs.

  • @John Tilley “. For example, if the employment record of one the candidates were examined in minute detail all sorts of conclusions could be jumped to.”

    Please expand. as far as I’m aware one was an FE college lecturer and the other an employment lawyer. Neither appear to be particularly controversial.

  • Matt (Bristol) 11th Jun '15 - 8:32pm

    Right. I’ve been avoiding this thread until I calmed down, and so almost no-one else is probably checking back, but who cares.

    Right, there is another someone who is not a Christian who agrees with me that the scepticism about Tim Farron’s evangelicalism has an edge of smearing: http://www.theliberati.net/quaequamblog/2015/06/05/why-the-lib-dems-need-to-be-saved-from-true-liberalism/ (thanks to Jennie Rigg’s blog, which I read often with interest, for pointing me at this).

    And another thing (hic). There has been much understandable misunderstanding on this thread about how Christians use the words ‘evangelical’ and ‘evangelistic’.

    ‘Evangelistic’ means a commitment to spreading the Christian message. Generally this doesn’t mean by forcible conversion, nor does this mean there is a belief that the believer has a duty — ie unless you’re doing this you’re not a ‘proper’ Christian. When Cameron said he was ‘evangelical’ about his Christianity, he probably meant he was ‘evangelistic’. (But goodness knows what he thought he meant, apart from it might win him kudos with certain voters).

    ‘Evangelical’ (which basically means ‘people of the gospel’, crudely speaking) used to be used as a synonym of ‘Protestant’ but fell out of usage in English before being revived (multiple times). In English history, it tends to mean ‘radical Protestant’, ie people who are going to do more than listen to preaching and read the Bible, but go out and DO THINGS about it. What things, are often left vague – for a start, they went off and did different things from one another, which is where it gets confusing, and it’s being going on since the 17th century. There are ‘evangelical’ factions in almost every Protestant denomination under the sun – in many cases there can be several different bickering Evangelical ‘unity’ groups within one denomination with different agenda, and there are a good few cross-denominational national and international evangelical unity groups who don’t get on or recognise each other as legitimate.

    There are also a good many churches (particularly in the USA) who describe themselves as ‘evangelical’ as a summary of doctrine, and expect you to automatically know what this means (because it only means one thing, right? All Christians believe the same things, don’t they?). The term also implies slightly different doctrinal and denominational allegiances in Germany, where it was used ever soooo slightly differently during the Reformation, and cross-fertilisation between the German and UK and American ‘strands’ has done nothing to simplify things. Since the Christian tradition went almost completely global, the ability to keep factional terminologies nailed down in meaning is almost impossible.

    So most evangelicals do think they have a responsibility to act out of their beliefs in the social, cultural and possibly even political realm, but just as there is less doctrinal and theological consensus than they like to believe there is, it is almost impossible to write down an ‘evangelical’ political summary without finding another bunch who are doing something almost completely contrary to this.

    Which is to say, you will find many loony evangelicals and many not-so-loony. They may make rhetorical reference to all evangelicals as having common values. This is completely useless to the outside observer and is NOT to taken on trust as it is often based on their assumption that many of the ‘other’ evangelicals either don’t exist or are not ‘proper’ evangelicals. Just because Tim Farron describes himself as evangelical and you may have found a really scary American or Australian or Nigerian church that uses the same term, does not mean they have very much in common, particularly when it comes to politics.

    To put it another way, it’s like refusing to vote for Jacob Rees-Mogg because both he and Gerry Adams self-describe as Catholics, or refusing to vote for Tony Greaves because David Cameron once described himself as a ‘liberal Conservative’ and ergo they both must have the same political ideology.

    NB, I do describe myself (sometimes) as an evangelical Christian, and I still haven’t worked out who I’m voting for.

    Exit stage left, pursued by everybody I’ve annoyed.

  • @Matt

    Words aren’t as important as deeds. Tim failed to vote on the final reading of the Equality Act, he signed a CiP letter regarding the efficacy of prayer (despite the scientific evidence and ASA ruling on the subject), he called for homeopathy to be accepted in the NHS, he voted in favour of Nadine Dorrie’s Termination of Pregnancy Bill, he submitted a corporate authored EDM, he had interns from CARE, he’s stated he’s anti-euthanasia, he signed the “Charles Must Go!” petition early on and worst of all he’s had years to come up with answers and still sounds insincere on these issues. I believe many have misread this situation – Farron’s a soft media target; we’ve all known he’s going to be the next leader for so long that its been easy to compile info on him, the press will have a field-day over the next 5 years following up the multitude of controversies.

    I wouldn’t care if he believed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, as long as I thought it wasn’t affecting his ability to fight for equality and justice. I’m probably marginally on the left of the party and Farron is my “natural” candidate, but I can’t shrug these problems and I’ve yet to see him or his supporters address any of them adequately.

  • @ChrisB thanks – you’ve made the point I was trying to make far more eloquently and comprehensively.

    We may not like it, but we all know what the media are like in this country and they will use anything that might be even slightly controversial against us if they can. As you’ve pointed out, Tim has this in spades, and doesn’t seem to have prepared adequately to deal with the inevitable questioning of his stances and judgement.

  • (Matt Bristol) 12th Jun '15 - 12:04pm

    Chris B – that’s a completely legitimate concern and is based on facts (there are arguments about the interpretation and meaning of the facts, but that’s something else).

    But there are other people on this thread worrying about Tim nnot because of how he voted, but because of the terminology of what he calls himself and whether its good PR to have a candidate who is a Christian. The first is reasonable, and the bassis for a concrete discussion the second is either woolly thinking or prejudice, or smearing.

    I have no issue with people who are sceptical about Farron because of his voting record, per se. I have an issue with people who are making a broader point that seems to imply (if taken out and looked at) that never again can a Christian – or particularly an ‘evangelical’ Christian – lead this party. I may not vote for Tim, but I suspect that train of thought intensely.

    TCO – you are still conflating the two points above, in your reference to ‘controversy’. And do you not realise you are feeding the controversy yourself in what purports to be a pragmatic argument?

    I do not say you are doing this deliberately out of mischief making, but I do say you are at risk of feeding others’ prejudices. There are people on here whose distate for Clegg at times seemed to lead them to believe (or prepared to indrectly imply during piques of rage) that he was capable of all kinds of dishounrable intention towards the party. Those who fear that Farron is leading some kind of religious entryist coup, or will cut us off from our secularist supporters, are in danger of doing the same. I know you felt Clegg was unfairly treated. Can you not see that Farrron is being similarly unfairly treated by this tone and turn of the debate?

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