Party to elect a Deputy Leader

Tim Farron has announced that the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons, to give our group of MPs its Sunday name, will be electing a Deputy Leader from among its number.

He said:

In the last parliament we didn’t have any women in our parliamentary party and we didn’t feel it was right to elect a deputy in those circumstances. But I wanted to revive the role as it gives the party another powerful voice and has helped give prominence to many of our notable MPs, including Ming Campbell, Simon Hughes and Vince Cable.

Now a third of our parliamentary party is female and we have our most diverse group of MPs ever, I feel our MPs form a more representative group to elect a deputy leader. There is still much more work needed to make ourselves more like the nation we seek to represent, but this is a really positive time for our party after increasing our number of MPs by 50%.

We could know as early as next Tuesday who the Deputy Leader will be if only one person puts themselves forward. If there is more than one candidate, a hustings and election by secret ballot will take place on Tuesday 27th June. The House of Lords chief whip Ben Stoneham will be the Returning Officer.

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  • paul barker 14th Jun '17 - 1:09pm

    Jo Swinson would be the obvious choice.

  • Ian Patterson 14th Jun '17 - 1:22pm

    Out of 11 notional candidates?

  • Mavarine Du-Marie 14th Jun '17 - 1:26pm

    Aligning for the future, it makes sense to pick one now, so gets it out of the way with, so party has more structure and accountability. Good move.

  • Can we drop the pretence that we increased our MPs by 50%, we had 9, we now have 12. It’s not a 50% increase.

  • Good news – but there should have been a deputy in the previous parliament and the lack of diversity of our MPs was a poor excuse.

    Several candidates would be good, but there is an obvious choice, isn’t there?

  • Peter Watson 14th Jun '17 - 2:09pm

    “In the last parliament we didn’t have any women in our parliamentary party”
    “after increasing our number of MPs by 50%.”
    How quickly Sarah thingamijig and Richmond watchamacallit have been forgotten.

    And why does Tim Farron’s first sentence imply that the party only needs the role of deputy leader if there is a woman MP to fill it?

  • I believe we should have a deputy leader (for press/TV reasons) but this is just an attempt to save Tim’s job. Sadly, I don’t think we can progress with Tim at the helm – it’s time for him to go.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Jun '17 - 2:33pm

    Daft that we didn’t have one .It should have been opened out to not have to be someone in the Commons. Correct to rectify this. If it must be , someone there, Jo Swinson for Deputy seems appropriate.

    The party needs realism and idealism, but to emphasise the first on Brexit , the first and second on most issues other than that!

  • Graham Jeffs 14th Jun '17 - 3:09pm

    Peter Watson – yes, quite so. To even imply that a deputy should be elected on any other basis other than merit is pretty stupid – and rather insulting if it is then a female MP. The illiberalism of political correctness.

  • Richard Wingfield 14th Jun '17 - 3:31pm

    It is absolutely not political correctness to seek a leadership team which is reflective of the party at large and the country as a whole. Personally, I think Jo Swinson would be a fantastic Deputy Leader and would be my first choice of the remaining 11 MPs. But we are fortunate to have a range of excellent MPs who could do the job, and so taking into account the importance and benefit of a more diverse leadership team is an important consideration. This is not a question of electing a weaker candidate over a stronger one on the basis of gender (which I would not support), but taking into account gender as one of a number of important considerations when electing a person from a range of candidates who are all well-qualified for the position.

  • I fear the party’s attitude to our female and minority politicians comes across as incredibly patronising. Why did gender need to be mentioned here?

  • paul barker 14th Jun '17 - 4:11pm

    If we had elected a Deputy Leader in the last Parliament he would have been another White Man. Of course there is nothing wrong with either Leader or Deputy being a Man but to have 2 Men suggests that we dont have or want anyone else. That was true of course but not something we wanted to remind The Voters about constantly.
    Other things being equal, the more visible diversity we have on our team , the better.

  • I’ve never known a voter to care much about the genders of the leader or deputy. Also we need to ensure equal opportunity from the ground up, I’m worried we are trying to impose “diversity” from the top which won’t achieve anything.

  • So it can only really be Jo. Nothing wrong with that, but once elected it should be changed to allow the parliamentary party to elect a deputy from a wider population so if there is shortage of candidates the party can look wider.

  • Matt (Bristol) 14th Jun '17 - 4:59pm

    Wish Tim had been more subtle here. Is he openly saying ‘MPs – vote for Jo Swinson’? ‘Cos that’s the best way to damage the candidacy of a promising candidate.

    And also outraged at the mess we seem to be wandering towards if The reports about Brian Paddick are true.

  • Andrew T

    “I fear the party’s attitude to our female and minority politicians comes across as incredibly patronising. Why did gender need to be mentioned here?”
    “I’ve never known a voter to care much about the genders of the leader or deputy”

    Yes and No. The constant public motions the party goes through are embarrassing, they look vacuous and unproductive. Very few people appear to have read the “now we won” blog that was on conservative home just after the 2015 election but the effectiveness soft power to increase a deficit does suggest that the central LibDem team are really quite poor at finding and helping good candidates that they want to help.

    Also rather than producing a system that would incentivise the desired out come to adjust the process slightly to help candidates the party opted for copying a Labour system which works in safe sets (which LibDems don’t have, a fact too many don’t understand) and in Labour means Women have to find a AWS seat rather than find the right seat.

    It doesn’t matter individually that a particular candidate or single leader has any particular characteristics but over time if there is greater number than the norm it does set an impression which starts to skew perspectives. It will become harder to find people putting themselves forward.

  • Matt


  • Roy CHADWICK 14th Jun '17 - 6:29pm

    I have just received Tim Farron’s email to members which assumes that he will continue as leader and says that the democratic process to elect a deputy has a constituency of 10 voters 9n the team
    Shouldn’t we have a member’s vote for the leadership and let the candidate who comes second be deputy?
    Why isn’t the team inclusive of members of the House of Lords?
    Perhaps we should be able to vote for a member of the Lords to be party leader with the Commons MP with the highest number of votes as deputy?
    Our share of the vote went down
    We did not offer the leadership or sufficiently substantial policies to win the hearts and minds which our constitution statement deserves

  • Richard Underhill 14th Jun '17 - 7:08pm

    When this issue was debated at conference there was debate as to whether to follow the constitution, or change it. Should the deputy leader be a campaigning force in the country when we already have a president? Should there be a membership vote? My preference at the time would have been a welsh lady who is now the education secretary in the welsh parliament and is not an MP.
    It is for the MPs to choose who they want to be their deputy leader and to provide candidates. The task requires gravitas and respect in the house of commons without needing the support of the speaker on every occasion to silence those who wish to drown out statements with which they expect to disagree.
    The outstanding character is Vince Cable. Many MPs will recall him saying that Gordon Brown (then PM) had changed from “Stalin to Mr. Bean”. He might be tempted to say something similar about Theresa May.
    At a press conference in the National Liberal Club after the election Tim Farron said she should be “ashamed” and only later said she should resign.
    Putting a penny on income tax was an old policy of Paddy Ashdown’s, although he would have spent it on education. In the privacy of the voting booth it was not then a clear vote winner.
    Policy on cannabis needs to be linked to illegal immigration. Imagine a semi-detached house in a suburban street near you. All the curtains are tightly closed and their is a police helicopter hovering overhead (measuring heat). On entry they find that the electricity supply has been short-circuited and the entire house has become a 7-24 greenhouse growing skunk. They arrest one person who has been watering the plants and speaks no English. At interview with an interpreter he refuses to disclose who he is working for. Without being in any way racist the Immigration caseworkers know what his nationality is likely to be and where they will therefore be trying to remove him after the minister signs a deportation order. It is not an EU member state, nor a NATO member. if he claims asylum his case will be likely to be based on a fear of criminals and not on a fear of the government of his country, thereby failing to meet the legal test of “sufficiency of protection” in his country of nationality.

  • paul barker 14th Jun '17 - 7:37pm

    Clearly this Election will now have to be postponed, it makes no sense to choose The Deputy before we know who the Leader will be.

  • Roy CHADWICK 14th Jun '17 - 8:15pm


    The Party did not make a breakthrough and capture the public imagination because it did not have a strong enough set of policies to offer hope

    The failure to offer a daily briefing with a significant and innovative policy prior to the publication of the manifesto led to the media, who had to cover the Party, to focus on you personally and your beliefs

    I believe that you have made the right decision in the circumstances, for the Party and for yourself

    You have never been less than decent, honest and dedicated and few politicians can claim that

    Roy Chadwick

  • Simon Banks 16th Jun '17 - 4:05pm

    Now Tim has resigned, it seems crazy to be planning to continue with the election of a Deputy Leader in the Commons when we don’t know who the Leader of the Party (who is after all also the Leader in the Commons) will be. We need a woman Deputy Leader for balance? Then Jo Swinson wins the leadership. We need a quiet, systematic, reliable type to back up the Leader’s passion? Then Norman Lamb becomes Leader. Surely we should postpone this process until we know the name of the new Leader.

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