Party organisations comment on resignation of Tim Farron

Two party organisations have commented on the resignation of Tim Farron.

LGBT+ Lib Dems highlight Tim Farron’s record as a friend of LGBT rights but note that his failure to adequately answer the questions on gay sex “cast a shadow on the campaign.”

Nonetheless, LGBT+ Lib Dems were at the forefront of the efforts to defend Tim based on his proven track record of friendship and support for our rights.

During Tim’s time as leader, the Liberal Democrats passed the most far reaching policy any party has ever had in favour of trans equality. In addition, he has been vocal on ending the “Blood Ban” on some people giving blood based on prejudices about their sexual behavior, and was the first party leader to speak out against human rights abuses against gay men in Chechnya.

We recognise that many of our LGBT+ members are also people of faith, and firmly believe that the Liberal Democrats should be a place open and tolerant for people of all faiths and none, just as much as it should be a place for people of all sexualities and genders. These are values that Tim has always stood for, and we would like to place on record our thanks to him, and to wish him all the best for the future.

We look forward to continuing our work with our new leader, once they are elected, promoting PrEP for all that want it, X gender markers on passports, and extending civil partnerships to all couples, amongst many other issues.

In the same statement, they also pay tribute to Brian Paddick for his work as Shadow Home Secretary and say that they don’t believe that he was part of an organised plot to oust Tim.

They conclude:

We very much hope and intend there to be space for all of us in the Liberal tradition when commenting on the matter, and as an organisation we will continue to offer our support to both Brian and Tim.

Humanist and Secularist Lib Dems praise Tim Farron’s record and say that it is his actions rather than personal beliefs that matter:

We were very sorry to learn of Tim Farron’s resignation as leader of the party on Wednesday.

Tim has had remarkable success in building the party locally, and doubling the party’s membership in just two years. The General Election result not only boosted our strength at Westminster but also re-established us as the third party in UK politics (with the increased radio and TV exposure that this will bring).

We believe Tim could have achieved considerably more, given time.

It is deeply unfortunate that his resignation has been driven by issues relating to his religious beliefs.

Tim has maintained throughout that what matters is not his personal religious beliefs but his actions, as demonstrated by his consistent support on LGBT+ issues in particular.

We absolutely endorse this position.

We believe that Tim’s record should not have given any liberal secularist cause for concern. His voting record on LGBT+ issues has been strong and positive; and as party leader he has gone well beyond this, regularly and vocally highlighting our party’s proud record on LGBT+ rights.

We should like to thank him Tim for his all-too-brief leadership, and we hope that he will remain a major contributor to our party’s future success.

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

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14 Comments

  • With respect – and I mean it – as a respectful agnostic I always thought having a Humanist Secular Society was a bit of an oxymoron. Imagine, if you will, a lemonade manufacturer selling a bottled vacuum. Not a lot of fizz.

    Anyway, good to see them respecting Tim. I wish some (never elected) members of the party establishment had demonstrated a similar respect in between the disappearing tweets.

  • Psssst: Humanist, not Hunanist.

  • Good on both organisations.
    It is a welcome reminder for some commenters that those who make a lot of noise may not represent anyone but themselves.

    Maybe we’ll now get the answers many of us have asked for from senior party members as to what actually happened/didn’t. I’m sure that’ll happen any day now…

  • Matt (Bristol) 21st Jun '17 - 12:04pm

    Presumably Hunanist is a group advocating devolution for a particular region of China.

  • Graham Neale 21st Jun '17 - 1:00pm

    It was unfortunate this occurred so soon after the Grenfell Tower fire – some commentators said it made us look self-serving and introspective.

  • Helen Tedcastle 21st Jun '17 - 1:12pm

    Not a very representative selection of party organisations to highlight.

    And this from the ‘Hunanist (humanist) and Secularist Liberal Democrats’ sums up the general air of division engendered since the election, and Tim’s subsequent resignation:

    “It is deeply unfortunate that his resignation has been driven by issues relating to his religious beliefs.”

    No. The resignation was not driven by issues related to his religious beliefs, as if his being a Christian was ‘a problem.’

    It was driven by media hounding of a political leader because he is a Christian, egged on by vexatious elements in our own party who obsess over what they think might be in the leader’s head, and who themselves seem to have a problem with Christians.

    The following freedoms are enshrined in the preamble to the constitution: “we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon… religion” and ” We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience.”

    This should give all Liberal Democrats pause for thought in seeking to balance competing rights and responsibilities in our party.

  • Graham Evans 21st Jun '17 - 6:32pm

    @ Helen Tadcastle “It was driven by media hounding of a political leader because he is a Christian”. No, it was driven by his failure to give a straight answer to a straight forward question. That may have been because he has a particular approach to Christianity, but it was not per se because he is a Christian. Theresa May was not “hounded” despite her Christian faith because she gave a simple Yes/No answer to the same question as was put to Tim.

  • Dave Orbison 21st Jun '17 - 8:04pm

    Graham Evans – exactly so. I saw three interviews over two years with Tim Farron on this issue.

    When he became Leader in 2015 when I was shocked that he refused to say gays were not sinners. This prompted me to look at his voting record and again shocked to find it was less than 100% on LGBT issues.

    During the campaign he then said being gay was not a sin. Great I thought, clarity at last. In fact I posted on LDV an apology for doubting him.

    But then in the final week of the election on LBC,in response to a gay voter’s question, he refused to answer once more. Why?

    Having said it was not a sin, why would it be difficult to give the same answer? The suggestion that he was just irked by being asked the same question again is nonsense as a simple “As I have said it’s not a sin” would have ended it.

    The reluctance to do this simply begs the question did he mean it when he said it was not a sin?

    If not, what does this say about his integrity? As for him being hounded. This is politics, being grilled on points of view and as to whether or not your character is up to it is an integral part of the job description. May and Corbyn have had no slack cut why should Tim Farron?

  • Richard stanley 22nd Jun '17 - 12:43am

    Im a gay man, I do not BELIEVE in gay marriage as a matter of faith, I believe in equality and my right to raise a family and love and be loved. I cancelled my membership to the Liberal Democrats following Tims resignation. Maybe I have misunderstood Tims stance but it sounds to me as though he is saying that his Faith and his political stance on LGBTQ+ equality are not compatible which I find heart breaking. I genuinely believed Tim was able to reconcile his Faith and Eqality because to me the two are not mutually exclusive and I defended him to friends and encourage them to vote LD. Tim is a good man but the next time an extremist tries to attack LGHTQ rights on the basis of religion he will have Tims views as evidence that this stance is legitimate. I find this appalling. I defended Tims right to religious freedom but I do not intend to vote LD again. He should have been fully open before the election and then I could have cast my vote fully informed of his views on my sexuality.

  • Ian Hurdley 22nd Jun '17 - 9:15am

    A problem which many Christians including this one have with the question ‘Do you believe … Is a sin?’ Lies in the popular understanding of the meaning of the word, sin. Sin comes, I believe, from archery where in earlier days it meant falling short of the target. Which is why Christians insist that we are all sinners; we all tell ourselves that we will do x and then don’t despite our best intentions or resolve not to do y, and then find ourselves doing it.
    But in the sex-obsessed world of the 20th/21st centuries people give special status to sexual behaviour – but why are we obsessed with differentiating same and opposite sex orientation , and so little concerned by the fidelity/promiscuity spectrum?

  • Matthew Huntbach 22nd Jun '17 - 11:43am

    Graham Evans

    Yes it was because he is a Christian. A less honest person would have given the answer that was expedient regardless of his or her personal position. My feeling is that Tim Farron was torn on this: aware of the traditional Christian viewpoint and wanting to give some sort of explanation maybe a bit like Ian Hurdley’s to defend his fellow Christians against the sort of accusations that get thrown at them, but aware also that the consequences of doing so would be the condemnation and insinuations that have been made against him.

    As LGBT+ LibDems have said, Tim Farron has a “proven track record of friendship and support for our rights”. So, if his view on some issue differed slightly from the norm, what actual effect would that have? He was hardly in a position to enforce this on the whole party, and had no wish to do so. He didn’t put forward this issue himself, he was questioned again and again on it, just in order to cause embarrassment to him and so to damage our party.

    There are MANY, MANY issues where I couldn’t give a straightforward yes or no answer. Sorry, that is an aspect of me being a liberal. I always want to be aware of and understanding of the arguments on both sides of issues. Indeed, I have a rather annoying habit of wanting to jump up and give the opposing argument, even if it is not really my own point of view, on any issue where I feel discussion has been too biased and has ignored the other side. That is perhaps the main reason why, though at the moment I am very unhappy about the Liberal Democrats’ shift to the economic right, I don’t think I could join any sort of socialist party because a key aspect of socialist parties is the idea of obedience to the party line.

    So, there we are. Is that the sort of party you want? One where no-one is permitted to have differing personal views on some issue, and where people therefore eschew honesty in what they say?

    I think that was the point Tim Farron was making on his resignation, not an attack, but just a matter of fact. It is now very unlikely that anyone who is a Christian and honest and open about it would dare stand again for the leadership, because exactly the same would happen again, regardless of their actual views. They would be unable to do the job they were elected to do, because this would get in their way. The next thing will be that for the same reason it will be considered best not to have them as Parliamentary candidates.

  • Graham Evans 22nd Jun '17 - 3:58pm

    @ Matthew Huntbach: Just repeating the mantra “because he is a Christian” doesn’t make it true. The leader personifies the image of the Party, and on the issue of homosexuality he simply projected the wrong image. I can think of plenty of Christians as equally committed as Tim but who would not have got themselves in the same mess as Tim did.

  • Simon Banks 9th Aug '17 - 6:35pm

    Tim may well have mishandled this. I think he did. But for me it’s absolutely basic to Liberalism, to differentiate between someone’s personal moral beliefs (that X or Y is wrong or right or not as simple as that) and their political position. Do you try to impose your judgments on others? If not, how are you being illiberal?

  • Helen Tedcastle 9th Aug '17 - 6:55pm

    Simon Banks

    Matthew Huntbach makes the essential point as follows: ” So, there we are. Is that the sort of party you want? One where no-one is permitted to have differing personal views on some issue, and where people therefore eschew honesty in what they say?”

    Having been a member of the party for over thirty years, it strikes me as fundamentally illiberal to expect every member to hold the same views and to hold the same views on every moral and ethical issue. If we did hold that assumption as a party then I suspect many of our leading spokespeople of the past generation would have had to step down from their posts. The thing is, their being a Christian and being a liberal was not called into question.

    They were not considered to be mutually exclusive as some in the party seem to think nowadays.

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