Tag Archives: tim farron

WATCH: Lib Dem Stop Brexit rally with Tim, former Labour MP backing Lib Dems, Layla and Vince

Well that came round quickly. Although not a minute too soon for my feet and my back and my knees. I am knackered physically and emotionally but there’s just two days left in what should be the most important election of our lifetimes. As Tim Farron says, it’s our chance to change the Brexit story from how we deliver Brexit to how we stop it and bring the nightmare to a close.

So it was (allegedly) the last big Lib Dem rally of the campaign, although my spies tell me that something pretty good is planned for tomorrow.

Watch here – and fast forward through the first few minutes of silence and intermittent chatter.

It’s been a wee while since we were treated to a good old fashioned Farron barnstormer. He talked about his son studying for his history exam, about the cold war. Tim said to him that thanks to the EU, six countries which once had nukes pointing at us are now sitting round the table arguing about fishing quotas. If there were no other reason to stay in the EU, that would be enough, he said.

Yesterday, former Thurrock Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay announced he would be voting for the Lib Dems because of the inability of the Labour Party to prevent a damaging Brexit. Tonight he took the floor at the rally. He likened it to making an offer about a house and then discovering it had dry rot or asbestos and then deciding against it. Despite his great affection for Labour in his half a century of membership, he slammed the lack of clarity about whether it backs a People’s Vote.

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15 April 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

My apologies for the delay in getting these to you – a combination of jet lag caused by a five hour time difference and family stuff is complicating things…

Tories must enact wholescale reform to fix rental market

Responding to the news that landlords will lose the right to evict renters without a reason at the end of their fixed-term tenancy, Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson Tim Farron said:

The housing crisis has left many renters at the mercy of their landlords in an unfair and distorted rental market. Section 21 notices have allowed landlords to turf out tenants without reason, leaving many too

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16-17 March 2019 – the weekend’s press releases (part 1)

Liberal Democrats demand a Clean Air Act

The Liberal Democrats have today demanded the Conservative Government bring forward a Clean Air Act enshrining the legal right to unpolluted air.

The proposals, set out at the Liberal Democrat conference in York, are based on World Health Organisation guidelines and would be enforced by a new Air Quality Agency.

If successful, the Clean Air Act would also demand air pollution testing took place more widely and frequently, with warning signs displayed in pollution hotspots and sensitive areas, such as near schools.

Speaking after the debate, Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

The

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9-10 March 2019 – the weekend’s press releases (part 2)

And, as promised…

  • Lib Dems: Labour must stop making excuses on a People’s Vote
  • PM must back independent investigation into Qatar World Cup bid
  • Home Counties knife crime rise shows crime epidemic is sweeping the UK

Lib Dems: Labour must stop making excuses on a People’s Vote

Responding to Keir Starmer’s announcement that Labour will not force a vote in favour of a People’s Vote on Tuesday, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Labour’s apparent belated support for a People’s Vote needs to be put to the test very soon. If not Tuesday, when? And their commitment must go hand in hand with a three

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6 March 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

  • PM fails to stand up for rural communities over bank closures
  • Cable: Catastrophic no-deal would push economy into recession
  • Davey: Britain must be far more ambitious on offshore wind
  • Lib Dems: Yet another embarrassing rejection of May’s Brexit

PM fails to stand up for rural communities over bank closures

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron today used Prime Minister’s Questions to urge the Prime Minister to properly compensate communities that have been abandoned by the banks and forced to use online banking instead.

According to the consumer group Which? around 3,000 bank branches have closed over the past three years.

Meanwhile over the same time period, innocent customers have lost an extra £2billion in online and financial fraud.

Speaking during Prime Ministers Questions, Tim Farron asked:

Will she agree that the banks have taken without giving for too long?

Will she meet with me to force the banks to compensate victims of fraud, to compensate the communities they have abandoned and to prevent banks closing the last branch in town?

In response, the Prime Minister refused to help abandoned communities and victims of financial fraud, instead saying that banks are “commercial organisations and those are decisions that they take.”

Following the exchange, Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:

It’s absolutely staggering and hugely disappointing that the Prime Minister has decided to turn her back on communities like Grange in my constituency that have been abandoned by the banks.

People who have been victims of financial fraud and those who have been let down by the banks deserve better than the Prime Minister shrugging her shoulders.

Cable: Catastrophic no-deal would push economy into recession

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15 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Lib Dems: Tories failing on air pollution

New figures released today by the Department for the Environment show that emissions of air pollutants have not dropped significantly over the past three years, despite the Government promising to tackle air pollution as a priority.

Responding to the figures, Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, said:

These figures show that this Tory Government is failing to tackle air pollution, which they described themselves as ‘the biggest environmental threat to public health.’

Long-term exposure to these emissions can cause heart and lung problems as well as potentially contribute to cancers, with the young and the

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Vince reshuffles Lib Dem spokespeople

Vince  has announced several changes to his top team of spokespeople.

Tim Farron will be taking over the Communities and Local Government  brief, which really suits him with his longstanding interest in housing. Wera Hobhouse moves from there to cover Energy and Climate Change.

Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine will now cover issues relating to Work and Pensions, taking on the portfolio vacated by Stephen Lloyd when he resigned the Whip in December.  Jamie Stone becomes Scottish spokesperson. Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael will speak on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Vince said of his new team:

I am pleased to announce today our new spokespeople who will speak out on the most important issues we face in Britain today.

While Parliament is consumed by Brexit, we need to remember that people are also affected by a whole host of other challenges.

We will continue to speak up for them as we continue our fight for the public to have a say on the Brexit deal with a People’s Vote.

It’s disconcerting that Lynne Featherstone no longer seems to have a spokesperson role given that she is one of the party’s best performers. She used to do energy and climate change in the Lords but that role has now gone to Chris Fox.

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Bottle it Day: Lib Dems react

Rather than face certain defeat now, Theresa May shelves plans for a Commons vote on her Brexit deal in order to try to stave of likely defeat in a few weeks’ time.

Lib Dems have been reacting to developments.

Vince Cable confirmed that we would support Labour in the unlikely event that our so-called opposition actually decided to move a motion of no-confidence in the Government.

The Prime Minister’s authority has drained away. It is the duty of Jeremy Corbyn to call a vote of no confidence in the Government, which Liberal Democrats would support.

After that Liberal Democrats will continue to press for a People’s Vote. MPs from all parties should join us in giving the people a final say, with the option to remain in the EU.

Welsh leaderJane Dodds said that the only way to resolve the Brexit embarrassment was a People’s Vote:

Brexit has become a national embarrassment. Negotiations with the EU have been chaotic since day one, but this is a new low. The fact Theresa May has postponed the vote on her deal to avoid defeat shows there is no support for her Brexit deal in Parliament.

Delaying the vote on her Brexit deal is an unprecedented blow to Theresa May’s authority, but it solves nothing. There is no majority for any Brexit deal in Parliament and now no majority for Brexit at all amongst the public. Whilst this remains the case, no Brexit deal will get through Parliament.

The only solution to the ongoing Brexit crisis is going back to the people. We must give the people the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit. This is the only solution and the Prime Minister should immediately back it.

Christine Jardine asked the PM why, if she could change her mind over the backstop, the people couldn’t be given the chance to vote again:

Wera Hobhouse asked how many of the people who voted to leave in 2016 voted for her deal:

Tim Farron was unimpressed with the Labour Party:

And on a lighter note, the Lib Dem Press Office has been on form today:

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26 October 2018 – today’s press releases

A very diverse range of press releases today, it must be said…

Universal Credit causing unacceptable hardship

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has slammed the Conservative Government for refusing to listen to problems experienced by those on Universal Credit as the Public Accounts Committee urges Ministers to make fundamental changes to the scheme.

The Public Accounts Committee has today (26th October) published its report into the implementation of Universal Credit. The committee concludes that:

  • The DWP’s dismissive attitude to real-world experience is failing claimants
  • The recent announcement of delayed roll-out is not a solution
  • The Government must work with third-party organisations to shape programme

Liberal Democrat MP …

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18 October 2018 – today’s press releases

Extending transition period another embarrassing climbdown

Responding to the news that Theresa May is open to extending the transition period, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Theresa May once argued that we didn’t need a transition period at all. Admitting that an extension is on the table, and the billions it would cost, is yet another in a long list of embarrassing climbdowns for this Tory Government.

The blame for this mess falls squarely at the Prime Minister’s feet. Over the last two years, her Government has failed to find solutions to

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17 October 2018 – today’s press releases

Moran to move amendment to deliver votes at 16

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran will today move an amendment to the Overseas Electors Bill to lower the voting age to 16 for UK citizens living abroad.

The Overseas Electors Bill, which proposes extending the right of UK citizens living abroad to vote in UK elections, will be debated at the Public Bill Committee today .

Ms Moran is moving her amendment in the wake of the Welsh Assembly supporting plans last week to introduce votes at 16.

Ms Moran said:

If we are

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Tim Farron MP writes…Vision before vanity

Former leaders probably shouldn’t write articles in the run up to a party conference, but here goes…

Let’s start by turning the clock back eleven years.  In September 2007 we arrived at our conference in Brighton with Ming Campbell as leader, expecting an early election.

Gordon Brown had just succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister without a fight.

Actually, there had been quite a fight as the Blair / Brown psycho drama had played out over the course of a fractious decade in Downing Street.  But there had been no electoral contest as Gordon took the top job.  David Miliband had bottled it, and John McDonnell had tried and failed to get enough signatures to get on the ballot paper.

Perhaps this one horse race struck many in Labour as not being terribly healthy and whilst they might not have sympathised with McDonnell’s hard-left views, they felt – on reflection – that it would have been better if he had got enough signatures to ensure that Brown had to experience some democracy before stepping into Tony’s shoes.

I suspect that McDonnell’s experience led to many Labour moderates choosing to sign the nomination forms of Diane Abbott in 2010, and of Jeremy Corbyn in 2015… A word to the wise: never back someone if you don’t want them to win.

Whatever we Liberal Democrats might have said at the time about his lack of democratic legitimacy, there really wasn’t an enormous clamour for Brown to seek his own mandate having taken on the role a few months earlier.  After all in 2005 Blair and Brown had very much been presented as a joint ticket.

Nevertheless, Labour looked good in the polls.  They were ten points ahead of a fairly wobbly looking Cameron and Osborne (who looked like a kind of very wealthy, poor-man’s Blair and Brown, if you see what I mean…).  Brown fancied his chances of crushing the Tories and so the weather was set fair for an October 2007 election.  Westmorland and Lonsdale Liberal Democrats had 40,000 flying start leaflets printed, 25,000 target letters stuffed and a thousand poster boards pasted up ready…

But – two weeks after our conference – on the same day that the England Rugby Union team surprisingly defeated Australia in the 2007 World Cup semi-final, Gordon Brown delivered his own surprise.  He backed down, there would be no early election.  A decision that trashed his reputation and ultimately led to his defeat in 2010… and to the formation of the coalition.

Gordon’s decision to march his troops back down the hill was to make a difference to the Liberal Democrats in 2010, but it also affected us there and then in 2007.

Ming Campbell had taken on the mantle of leading the party in the sad turmoil after Charles Kennedy’s resignation in early 2006. Ming chose to step down following Gordon Brown’s announcement that there was no longer the prospect of an early election. Ming gave immense service to the party by putting his own ambition to one side in the party’s interest.

In the Autumn of 2007, the party needed an Acting Leader to take the helm.  Up danced our Deputy Leader Vince Cable. Having been PPS to Ming, I became Acting PPS to the Acting Leader – I was the lowest of the low!  But I got to see first hand the cross-party respect that Vince built, not only for his deft handling of PMQs (who could forget his observation that Gordon Brown had transformed from Stalin to Mr Bean?) but also for his integrity.

Fast forward eleven years, and as we gather again in Brighton this September, Vince is back at the helm of the party, and has shown the same selfless strength that Ming showed in 2007.    

As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, the structures of all political parties are still locked into the Victorian model.  Reform is greatly needed. Not everyone will agree with the proposals that Vince has put forward for reform, but the fact that he has put the cat among the pigeons and opened up the debate should be seen as visionary and vital.

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Tim Farron reminds us how the Lib Dems have led the fight against Brexit from the start

Yesterday, Tim Farron sent round an email to party members the other night saying this:

Mine was a lonely voice two years ago.

The UK had narrowly voted to leave the EU. The next day, I committed the Liberal Democrats to fight back.

I said the British people must have the final say on any Brexit deal – with the option to Remain in the EU.

Back then, even our friends weren’t with us. Not the remain media or remain MPs from other parties. Not even the big remain organisations.

But together, we’ve changed all that.

Polls this week show a clear majority now back our position.

A national newspaper has backed our call. Many pressure groups are now calling for a vote on the deal.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. This wasn’t in Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg’s script.

And it hasn’t happened by accident. It’s thanks to you.

Together, over the last two years, we have:

  • Grown our party to nearly 200,000 registered members and supporters – and spoken with over 2.4 million voters in the last 12 months
  • Reached around 24 million voters online each year
  • Achieved our best local election results in 15 years

At last, there’s real hope. We can change this – but timing is crucial. We must step up the pressure for change.

So please – TAKE ACTION today, share our campaign with your friends and family – and help us reach 150,000 supporters:

All of this is absolutely fine, but he didn’t actually call for another referendum immediately. That came later in the Summer and Conference enshrined that position in a motion passed in Brighton in September. 

This is one for the nit pickers among us and for slight amusement rather than criticism. After all, it is absolutely nothing compared to say, forcing the country in a position where we have to stockpile what basic food and medicines we can to mitigate against a disastrous and extreme interpretation of a narrow vote to leave the EU which was driven by a Leave campaign that lied and cheated its way through and therefore can’t be legitimate. 

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Tim Farron MP writes: Lib Dems would restore decency and dignity for refugees

The sight of refugees arriving on the Greek coast in 2015 will never leave me. It’s not the sort of thing you forget.

Parents and children were packed onto makeshift boats in search of safety, fleeing Syria, Iraq, Eritrea and other brutal conflicts around the world.

This isn’t a ‘refugee crisis’, even if that is what we have ended up calling it. It is a crisis of violence and persecution, with dictators and murder squads killing and displacing families across the world. Refugees are the human face of what has gone so badly wrong. 

Refugee Week is underway (it is World Refugee Day tomorrow), which is a timely reminder of Britain’s role supporting people who have been forced to flee their homes, both in the work we do in refugee camps around the world and in how we treat asylum seekers who make it to our shores and ask for help.

The current system lacks decency and dignity. The Lib Dems would restore these values.

Firstly, and crucially, the quality of asylum decisions is nothing short of a national scandal. The Home Office wrongly refuses people sanctuary so often that around 40% decisions are overturned on appeal each year. The result is that people who have already endured so much are left scared and uncertain, when they should have been promised safety here much more quickly. 

This can’t be allowed to continue. The whole process needs reform, from top to bottom.

We shouldn’t just focus on decisions, though. Even as the government focuses on improving integration in our country, for example, asylum seekers are barred from working. 

Work helps people integrate, learn English, and contribute to society – all things asylum seekers badly want to do.

So let’s join-up government a bit better and give people the chance to work if their asylum claim is delayed. There is nothing liberal about forcing people who can work to sit around all day doing nothing. 

Plus we should celebrate what we already do well, and plan for how to do more of it.

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A long read for a Wednesday lunchtime: Tim Farron on Vince, Vulcans, the centre ground and “identity politics”

A couple of years ago, Tim Farron’s often powerful speeches excited and enthused Liberal Democrats and beyond as membership more than doubled in his two years as leader. Too often these days his remarks or his actions cause anger and anxiety. I know that when I see the word Farron on Twitter, I’m thinking “Oh no, what’s he done now.”  Don’t get me wrong, given the same choice I had in 2015, I’d vote for him again. However, in his quest to become leader and president before that, he went out of his way to build alliances with certain groupings in the party. It’s fair to say that some of those people feel intensely let down by certain of his pronouncements. They bear the scars of defending him in the face of some pretty hostile stuff from within and outwith the party. He shouldn’t underestimate what people went through showing loyalty to him.

To them, it feels like Tim is throwing a flame thrower at the bridges. On the other hand, Tim doesn’t seem to understand why they’re so upset. The way he sees it, he’s not picking on one group of people because he thinks we’re all sinners. Having spent a lot of time amongst evangelical Christians in my teens, I strongly suspect my registry office do 30 years ago doesn’t quite fulfil their standard of marriage.

I don’t actually care whether he thinks certain bits of my life are sinful or not and it makes no difference to how he treats me. We’ve worked perfectly well together in the past and I’m sure we will do so again. The big thing is, though, that you don’t tend to get beaten up for having a registry office do. You are more likely to be the victim of a hate crime if you are LGBT. That’s where his comments on these issues can cause actual harm to actual people. It legitimises those who would undermine just and equal treatment of LGBT+ people. I think that Tim needs to understand that. 

On Monday night Twitter started to get a bit unsettled again. This time it was his comments on “identity politics” at an Oxford Union speech that caused some fairly widespread consternation amongst Lib Dems and others.

The term “identity politics” is generally used as a derogatory term by those on the alt-right about any marginalised group who are fighting against discrimination. And they don’t just do it for themselves, they show solidarity with others who are marginalised, too. Jennie Rigg explores the concept here.

If you point out the gender pay gap, or that bisexuals routinely have horrendous mental health, or that black women are held to impossible standards of behaviour that white women aren’t, or that 45% of trans youth have attempted suicide, as sure as eggs is eggs you’ll get some white guy moaning at you about identity politics, and how we should practise “equalism, not feminism”, and how we’re all equal anyway these days now.

When people use the phrase “identity politics” they are generally saying that all those marginalised groups should just stop fighting for fair treatment and leave all the power to the white men where they think it belongs. It was surprising to hear Tim, who has stood up for some of the most marginalised groups in our society, echo this sort of language. 

I thought the only fair way to judge it was to look at the whole speech in context and I’m grateful to Tim for kindly sending me a copy. The stuff that’s caused the controversy is not even the main subject of the speech, which is about whether the centre ground of politics is a myth and exploring the common principles that tie it together and looking at the prospects of a new party.

For me, that section just doesn’t fit in. Apart from anything else the sort of people who need to work together or be appealed to are the sort of people who are generally reasonably fair minded people who understand  the discrimination women, LGBT folk, disabled people and  people of colour face – and the intersectionality between those groups – or if they don’t, they are more likely to  be persuaded by evidence. How much better would it have been to say: “We’re seeing attacks on different groups of people from the likes of Trump and the right. We need to make sure that the equal rights and legal protections that have been so hard won are not compromised in any way.” The far left and far right don’t get this stuff at all.  They are more interested in their own brand of revolution. 

There are a few interesting observations on modern politics and some uncomfortable ideas in the speech, but I’ll let you find them for yourselves. Let us know what you think (politely) in the comments.

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Tim Farron withdraws from event after seeing promotional material which attacks the “gay lobby” and talks about problems with Islam and immigration

Tim Farron has withdrawn from an event he was speaking at on Saturday after someone posted promotional material for it on Twitter.

The blurb for the “Men Standing Alone” event to be held in Manchester says as follows:

The leadership from those in authority in the denominations who should be the guardians of biblical truth has been muted to say the least and even in Bible teaching churches many appear to be wavering under the onslaught of the gay lobby. Add to this scenario the increasing problems associated with immigration, and Islam in particular and indeed many other things which push Christians further and further to the margins, there is for many a feeling of despair and even fear about standing up and speaking out.

In a tweet, Tim said that he had only just been made aware of this aspect of the event:

Tim has form for not doing due diligence on stuff. In 2012, he apologised for signing a letter to the Advertising Standards Association criticising them for banning ads which talked about the healing power of prayer. He wrote an article for this site at this time explaining his position.

I completely understand why some of you are concerned. It’s not a well-worded letter – the reference to the ASA providing indisputable evidence is silly, and the implication that people should seek faith healing at the expense of medical intervention is something that I just don’t believe in. For what it’s worth, I also think that the Fabrice Muamba reference is crass. So on all those fronts, I should just say sorry and not bother defending myself. I shouldn’t have signed that letter as it was written, so I apologise for putting some of you in quite a difficult position.

It is to be hoped that in the future he will be very carefully scrutinising such invitations. Thankfully Twitter has saved him from turning up at an event which is so obviously in conflict with liberal values. That would have been personally embarrassing from him and damaging for the party.

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Tim Farron: How would you want your family to be treated if they were fleeing war?

On Friday, MPs kept alive a Bill proposed by the SNP’s Angus MacNeil aimed at reuniting refugee families. The debate was one of those which makes you proud of MPs from all parties. The Bill had support from Conservative, Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrat MPs.

Ed Davey, Alistair Carmichael and Layla Moran all made interventions.

Tim Farron made a really powerful speech. His leadership was marked by his constant and passionate pressure on the Government to do more to help refugees and it’s something that he still continues to pursue. Here’s his speech in full.

I will try to be brief, Mr Deputy Speaker, because the most important thing today is that this Bill proceeds. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Angus Brendan MacNeil), and to all hon. Members who, unusually, are here on a Friday. This is my fourth debate on a Friday in 13 years, because this Bill matters. It is a chance and a test. It is a test of our support for the people who need it most; it is a test of our ability to act with compassion and common sense. It is not a hard test, because this is a modest and tightly defined common sense Bill.

Let us be clear what the changes in the Bill would mean for the refugee children who are already here in the United Kingdom. These are children who have experienced unimaginable things. Nevertheless, I want Members to try to imagine. What horrific set of circumstances might have to happen to a family that would mean that the danger and misery of fleeing across land and sea, as well as the risk of separation, is preferable to staying put? Imagine how you would want your children and your family to be treated at the end of your journey. Imagine that sanctuary, and the kindness that goes with it, and be very clear that that must be the model for how we treat families today.

Separated refugee children in the United Kingdom have already overcome threats and danger in their own communities. They have been split from their families in their rush to find somewhere—anywhere—safe and have then been forced through a terrifying journey by sea and land to Europe, journeys that we know have claimed hundreds of children’s lives. These refugee children are here right now living in our communities alongside us, asking us today to step up and reunite them with their families. The Bill will allow them a future with their families instead of being separated from them. It will mean children growing up with their parents where they should be, at their side, rather than living with the constant worry about the fate of their families, stranded and out of reach. The Bill simply makes that possible.

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The reason Tim Farron didn’t vote for merger

Ten years ago, the lib dem blogfather Jonathan Calder wrote an article for the New Statesman about the party’s first 20 years.

But if Liberal enthusiasts for merger were to have their hopes crushed, Liberal sceptics were to be confounded too. There were many who feared the new party would see Liberalism submerged within Social Democracy or junked in an enthusiasm for all things new.

He shared it on Twitter yesterday, saying that he had been one of the Liberal Party members who had opposed the merger.

His tweet prompted a confession from Tim Farron:

I actually came to the new party from the SDP. I had been very much in favour of merger and told Bob Maclennan so in no uncertain terms on the day after the disappointing 1987 election.

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Brian Paddick writes…We need to reassure people that Liberal Democrats remain the most accepting of all the political parties, whoever you are and whatever you believe

I write as a gay Christian about the tightrope between freedom of speech and religion and prejudice and discrimination.

One of the fundamental principles of Liberalism is to allow people to do as they wish provided it does not harm other people.  When it comes to religion, what appears to be a simple enough principle becomes complicated.

Many religions, including Christianity, require its followers to proclaim “the good news” of their particular religion to non-believers.  There are interpretations of many religions that say intimacy between same sex couples is wrong, indeed that any sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman is sinful.  The question then becomes, does proclaiming such ideas contravene the Liberal harm principle?

There are people who think religion is at least, mumbo jumbo, and at worst, damaging and divisive, and that whatever God, his Son or his prophets may or may not have said, it’s all nonsense, in which case, no harm done.

There are others who do have a faith, who are from sexually and gender diverse groups or who love those from such groups (family members, friends, allies), for whom it really matters what their religion says on these issues and who are seriously harmed by such declarations.

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Vince: I strongly disagree with Tim Farron – and other Lib Dem reaction

Vince Cable has responded to Tim Farron’s interview today with a strongly worded tweet:

Party President Sal Brinton agreed:

Scottish Lib Dem Leader Willie Rennie endorsed this view as well:

Other senior Liberal Democrats stepped up with similar, straightforward arguments:

Our Deputy Leader:

 

Former Lib Dem Lords Leader Jim Wallace had this to say:

Christine Jardine reaffirmed her commitment to campaigning for LGBT+ rights:

Liz Barker also endorsed Vince’s tweets and particularly mentioned LGBT Christians:

And Brian Paddick revealed more about his resignation from Tim Farron’s shadow cabinet earlier this year.

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In full: Tim Farron’s interview on Premier Radio

Tim has spoken at length on Premier Radio, including remarks on his faith and his role as leader of the Liberal Democrats:

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LibLink: Tim Farron – What Kind of Liberal Society Do We Want?


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Theos is an organisation which, in its own words: “stimulates the debate about the place of religion in society, challenging and changing ideas through research, commentary and events.”

This week, Tim Farron gave the Theos Annual 2017 Lecture.

It is an extremely thoughtful, nuanced and quite complex speech.

You can read it in full here on the Theos website.

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The cost of football

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My two grandchildren both love football, and one of them takes it very seriously indeed. We all know the huge social and health benefits from taking part in sport and I have a great respect for all those parents who help to keep community sports clubs alive and kicking, as it were.

But children who love a sport also want to watch professionals playing, so it is very sad to learn that major clubs are effectively pricing out younger supporters. The BBC has published its annual report Price of Football 2017 and found that most ticket prices have remained steady. But in parallel it commissioned a survey of 18 to 24 year olds – all football fans – which showed that 82% said that the price of tickets was a barrier preventing them from going to more matches. OK, so I have jumped there from children to younger adults, because that’s the group that was surveyed, but the inference is that ticket price is a problem for young people in general.

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Tim Farron explains how the Government’s cuts to supported accommodation will harm most vulnerable

One of the (many) hugely worrying things about the Government’s plans for Housing Benefit is the cap being applied to supported accommodation.

Across the country, people are given the chance to live as independent lives as possible in accommodation which comes with its own support network. Government cuts threaten this – and the human cost is appalling.

This was discussed in a  Westminster Hall debate yesterday in which Tim Farron took part.

From my experience of the supported housing provided for constituents with autism and learning difficulties, I know that the LHA rent cap will mean that they simply will not be able to afford the support that they get in their current setting. They will end up in institutions or hospitals, which will actually cost the taxpayer far more money.

On Facebook, he went into a bit more detail:

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Liberal Democrats mark World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day.

For me it’s a day to reflect on how far we have come since I started to suffer from mental ill health as a child. Forty years ago, nobody understood the desperate, isolating, all-engulfing Depression that I couldn’t shake off, that took every ounce of my energy just to get through the day. I remember trying to talk about it to a friend once, and she scared the living daylights out of me, telling me I’d be locked up in a hospital if anyone found out.

There was the exhausting anxiety which punctuated every day – not helped by the fact that round every corner there might be another bully lurking to shout “Yak” at me. That’s what they called me at school. I just wish I’d had Google then to reassure me that, whatever my tormentors meant, these beasts were actually kind of cute.

My teens were a struggle and because I didn’t get the help I needed, I either didn’t cope very well or developed some fairly unhelpful strategies to deal with it. Comfort eating for one.

We can perhaps be a little bit proud of ourselves as a society that four decades on, we are at least attempting to tackle the stigma around mental health, so that no young person need fear that they are going to be locked up.

However, we should also be ashamed that this new openness has not been accompanied by the provision of sufficient support services for people with mental ill health.

There is one area I want to focus on – the transition from child to adult mental health services. Once you get into the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, you can actually get some pretty reasonable support. It’s arranged in a fairly logical way with consultants, psychologists and nurses working together to support young people. Unfortunately not every young person who needs help can get it at all, and most have to wait far too long.  It is not uncommon to wait for more than a year to even see a specialist.

Mental health issues generally aren’t resolved overnight, so you have a year of turmoil while you are waiting to be seen and, maybe another couple of years of reasonably intensive support – and then you turn 18. All the effort put into helping you is now at risk as you are put into the virtually non-existent twilight world of adult mental health services which are disparate, insufficient and as suitable for the scale of the problem as  trying to surf the Atlantic on a My Little Pony lilo.

This country is being robbed of the talents of some wonderful individuals simply because it does not invest in the services they need to stay well.

Even the most cruel and heartless government should surely recognise that the cost of not supporting these people is enormous to both our economy and our society.

I’m incredibly proud that Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb have done so much to improve mental health services and tackle the stigma around mental health. One of the most horrible things about the run-up to the 2015 election was the almost certain knowledge that Norman wouldn’t be mental health minister any more.

Today, Liberal Democrats have been marking Mental Health Day in a variety of ways:

Kirsty Williams made this video highlighting mental ill health in the workplace:

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In Full: Tim Farron’s speech to Conference

All former leaders get a keynote speech at the first Conference after they step down. Tim Farron’s was, as you would expect, loud, funny in parts, optimistic, loyal and ended by giving the party a serious mission.

There was a lot of love in the room for that man.

“I was at Euston the other day and a lady came up to me, half my size but still somehow able to look down her nose at me.

“She said ‘well, I’m not surprised you stepped down! Never trust a man who wears doctor marten shoes!’

“If only we’d known. I’d have worn the boots instead, cherry red with yellow laces up to my knees. And that would be the only thing I’d change.

“I’m not giving up, so this wont be a giving up speech. And I’m not retiring,

“I mean I turned down celebrity Dancing on Ice!

“Because Lembit Opik is a friend. Not a blueprint.

“Look, I’m not going to give you a long list of advice – I’m not Paddy.

“Just one bit of advice really, it’s this:

“If you have joined this party as a fast track to a career in politics, then your careers officer wants sacking.

“This is not the place if you want an easy life. It is the place to be if you want to make a difference.

“31 years ago I joined the Liberals.

“Like the rest of you I chose the tough route in politics, I chose that tough route knowingly.

“Any old mediocrity can join labour or the tories, hold office, be someone for a bit, but do exactly the same as any other careerist would have done.

“But I also know you can only make a difference if you are brave enough to be different.

“When I first got elected, getting lost on the parliamentary estate was pretty much a daily event. Its like going to big school for the first time. One night Greg Mulholland and I were trying to find our way out of parliament, and we got lost, its just possible that we might have had a pint.

“Anyway, we wandered into the house of lords lobby by mistake and Greg whispered to me ‘I think we’re in the wrong place’ to which the policeman on the door responded ‘not in the wrong place sirs, just 30 years too early.

“Which tells you something about how folks see the comfortable trajectory of the career politician.

“Anyhow, about a week later I decided to join year 6 of Dean Gibson Primary School from Kendal on their tour around parliament. Everything I know about what’s where in parliament I got from that guided tour.

“As the tour progressed we ended up again in the House of Lords lobby, and I got distracted by Geoffrey Howe moving rather slowly out of the chamber and into the lobby.

“I don’t mind telling you, I was rather star struck, I mean he was chancellor of the exchequer when I was at school!

“One of the kids saw who I was looking at, and she said ‘who is he?’ and I said ‘that’s Geoffrey Howe, he brought down Margaret Thatcher’ and she said, ‘who’s Margaret Thatcher?’

“Which goes to show that, you know, there is some justice.

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A belated personal tribute to Tim Farron


Tim Farron took over our party after we had fallen off a cliff and landed amongst particularly dangerous rocks underneath with a team of crocodiles having a good chew at our ankles.

He was exactly what we needed at that time. A passionate liberal and Liberal. A fighter. Someone with bags of energy and a great, charismatic speaker. He is also a man of great honesty and integrity.

You have to remember the appalling state we were in on 8th May 2015 and then compare it to 8th June 2017. We went from being absolutely gutted to having our highest membership ever, a revitalised campaigning structure and 50% more MPs.

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What should Liberal Democrats expect of our leaders?

 

Members are sovereign in the Liberal Democrat party. Members will be consulted on the overall party strategy at the next Federal Conference, prior to a motion being passed. Yet the party leader is expected, both by the membership and by the country, somehow to embody the image of the party. He or she is identified with its perceived success or failure by the media, regardless of how much control they may actually have had.

So what do we members think the first duty of the Liberal Democrat leader should be?

Surely he must show in outlining his political priorities that he is true to the party’s principles and values. This Tim Farron did, when elected in 2015. He said, for example,

We see people as individuals. The Liberal mission is to help us to be the best we can be. Standing up for the individual is not what we do – it’s what we are.

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Two months with the Lib Dems

 

Two months ago today I joined the Liberal Democrats amongst the peak of political campaigning for the general election (the first in which I was able to vote). Before this year I had seen myself as someone more on the right when it came to business and the economy but also felt strongly in favour of civil liberties.

As someone who has grown up in a Conservative stronghold in the South, and only really came to better understand politics under the Coalition government, I had always seen the Tories as the better choice out of the two major parties. Until the referendum last year, I was probably well on the route to putting a cross in the box next to Conservatives, not out of total agreement with Tory policies but seeing it as the lesser of two evils. When I found out the result of the referendum early the next morning, followed quickly by the news of David Cameron’s resignation, after the initial anger, confusion and disbelief, it left me reflecting on my own political stand point.

It emerged Theresa May would take over as Conservative leader several weeks later and earlier this year a general election was called for June. In the time from the Brexit result to the election being called, I found myself unable to be supportive of the Conservatives who had done nothing but shift rightwards on the political spectrum and witnessed a Labour party move much closer to its socialist roots. I was left unsatisfied with what the two major parties were offering, and so I looked elsewhere for inspiration.

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Cheers, Tim

I have to say I’m feeling sad tonight. Two Summers ago, I worked hard to elect Tim Farron as our leader. I’d hoped he’d be there for one if not two Parliaments, at least a decade. I felt  that the party needed his Tiggerish energy and passion even if his 100,000 members target scared me slightly.

Tim inspired us to pick ourselves up, raise our eyes and fight. He took on the fight for the most vulnerable, speaking up for the thousands of refugees fleeing war in Syria. He made it his mission to present a coherent case for unaccompanied children to come to this country, even trying to enact it into law. I was never prouder of him than when he was the first party leader to head to Calais and Lesvos.

Tim was not one to always make life easy for himself, as we saw from the Syria vote. He was prepared to risk upsetting his core support on the left of the party. Nor did he shy away from the battles we needed to have. On diversity, he was prepared to lead from the front, supporting the Electing Diverse MPs motion which was passed in York in 2016.

His leadership was a whirlwind of campaigning at all levels around the country. He went to Council by-elections to the winning Richmond Park parliamentary by-election. He was brilliant in the Scottish and Welsh elections last year.

He was proactive in the fight for LGBT equality, arguing for an end to the gay blood ban and for transgender rights. What a signal it sent to young people struggling with their gender identity to have a major political leader sitting in the front row supporting a motion on transgender rights.

And on that “sin” issue, I wrote the first time it came up that I didn’t think that politicians should be pontificating about any sort of sin:

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