Social Liberal Forum holds hustings for Farron and Lamb

The Social Liberal Forum Conference ended yesterday with a 90 minute hustings between Tim Farron and Norman Lamb. Both men turned up dressed in very similar clothes. As I tweeted at the time, if they had been women, we’d never have heard the end of it.

It was a lively event, not least because they did allow questions from the floor that hadn’t been submitted in advance – and they allowed supplementaries. The candidates were both put under more pressure than they had been at any other event I’d seen so far. There is nothing wrong with vanilla ice cream, but if the other hustings were that, then this one was Chilli and Dark Chocolate ice cream – rich with flavour and full of warmth. When I say warmth, I am not referring to the temperature in the room. The air-conditioning was broken, leading Nick Barlow to make one observation:

I was absolutely delighted to see Tim Farron put forward the possibility that taxes might just have to go up to pay for public services. It’s a debate that needs to be had, but I think a lot more thought needs to go in to how we make the arguments in this deeply selfish political environment. How do we persuade people that it’s necessary when we’re still suffering from Thatcher-induced focus on self rather than on community?

The most controversial questions came on the economy from Katherine Bavage and on peerages from Seth Thevoz. Katherine asked whether both regretted voting against SLF amendments on economic policy at our 2013 Conference. Tim Farron’s intervention in that debate had been a bit of a game changer. He was pretty candid that he’d been doing so as he felt it was important in that instance to be a team player. He went on to say that he wouldn’t pick fights with Conference as leader. I don’t think that a Conference defeat does the leadership any harm, especially in our current situation. In fact, it actually does them some good, because it shows them that they don’t have all the power. I don’t think he should be overly worried about avoiding fights with Conference. It’s respecting the outcome that’s important.

What was very clear was that we have two seriously good candidates for leader. They have different approaches. Tim gets you in the gut when he speaks, and he understands the importance of emotions in today’s political environment. Norman wants to build an intellectual powerhouse of liberalism that will draw people to us. He also has the experience of turning round to officials who are trying to find all sorts of reasons not to organise their services in the most people centred and practical way and making sure that they got on with it anyway.

Both candidates said that they just wouldn’t give peerages to party donors, although Tim said that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to appoint many people.

There was amusement when Tim Farron quoted Trotsky. This was in response to a question from Daisy Cooper on whether the party should be leading an insurgency.

You can watch the whole thing here. The excellent Jon ball filmed much of the day’s proceedings.

And here are some tweets from people who were there:

And if that wasn’t enough to help you make up your mind, there’s a chance to ask Norman Lamb a question tomorrow:

And Tim Farron is on Any Questions this week on Radio 4 on Friday at 8 pm.

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

Read more by or more about , , , , or .
This entry was posted in News.


  • Liberal Neil 6th Jul '15 - 11:01am

    I interpreted Tim’s answer about conference slightly differently. I took the emphasis to be on avoiding ‘fights’ with conference, and the macho posturing we saw on occasion from both Nick and Paddy* when they were leader.

    I don’t think Tim was suggesting that he might not disagree with conference decisions sometimes, but that he thought it was counter-productive to turn them into battles, which was always Charles’ more sensible approach.

    *Worth noting that while Paddy is now trumpeting Norman and his radical approach to drugs policy, one of his first major rows with conference was over the far less radical drugs policy proposals at the 1994 conference.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter Martin 3rd Aug - 9:52am
    If anyone thinks the recent slight tightening of restrictions is unnecessary, if the scientific advisers to the government are a bunch of " incompetent clots"...
  • User AvatarChris Cory 3rd Aug - 9:43am
    What seems to be coming through here is not that the party is institutionally racism in some way, but that we are just not very...
  • User Avatarrichard underhill 3rd Aug - 9:41am
    Mark Valladares | Mon 3rd August 2020 - 7:30 am What about a cook who feeds her children burger buns containing ice cream? (as on...
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 3rd Aug - 9:36am
    Good article Michael and I agree 100% with the idea of reducing the size of the Federal Board. I also feel we need to look...
  • User Avatarrichard underhill 3rd Aug - 9:34am
    Michael Berwick-Gooding | Mon 3rd August 2020 - 9:25 am Looks good, let's do that, but add a further review with a time limit of,...
  • User AvatarAndrew Tampion 3rd Aug - 7:16am
    The problem with all Women, all BAME, or all anything shortlists is that they address the symptoms not the disease. If because of conscious or...