Tag Archives: tim farron

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Tim Farron has withdrawn from an event he was speaking at on Saturday after someone posted promotional material for it on Twitter.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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Tim’s best bits #5: Campaigning in Edinburgh West in the General Election

At the beginning of the election campaign this year, Tim came to Edinburgh West one sunny Monday evening. He spoke brilliantly with a message that at that point in the campaign was just bang on. This is Tim at his best.

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Tim’s best bits #4: Going to Calais

At midnight tonight, Tim Farron hands the mantle of Liberal Democrat Leadership to Vince Cable. We are looking at some of the best bits of his two year and four days in charge. 

Less than 3 weeks after being elected leader, Tim Farron went to Calais to see the refugee crisis for himself.  As the humanitarian crisis worsened and the Tories ignored the dreadful suffering on our doorstep,, Tim, alone amongst UK wide party leaders, called for action. He was the first to go to Calais to see for himself what was going on.  Here’s how we brought you that news at the time.

For Tim Farron, the situation in Calais has always been primarily a humanitarian one. He was furious last week when David Cameron described the desperately vulnerable people there as a “swarm.” Most recently he asked Cameron to make sure that we were doing our fair share to end the “immeasurable suffering” of the people in Calais. He wrote:

I am sure you agree that it is heartbreaking to see hundreds of desperate people subsisting in makeshift camps night after night, willing to risk life and limb in the hope of a better future while many in Kent and across the country see their daily lives hugely disrupted through no fault of their own.

I welcome your commitment yesterday to providing France with the resources needed to deal with the situation and am writing to seek assurances that alongside the necessary security measures, support will also be given to humanely process those seeking asylum, return those who have no right to remain, and ensure that, in line with international obligations, standards of welfare and accommodation are urgently improved.

Today he went to Calais to see the situation on the ground for himself.

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Tim’s Best Bits #3: His first Conference speech

Tonight at midnight, Tim Farron hands over the reins of Liberal Democrat power to Vince Cable. We’re showing some of his best bits in his two years as leader.

Here is his passionate, heartfelt first speech to Conference, given just days after the death of 3 year old Aylan Kurdi who was killed while crossing the Mediterranean as his family fled to what they hoped would be safety in Europe.

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Tim’s best bits #2: That Syria vote

In December 2015, the House of Commons voted on whether to carry out airstrikes in Syria. Had I been a Liberal Democrat MP, I’d have voted against. However, Tim led 75% of ours through the voting lobbies in support of the Government’s plans.

I wrote about my mixed feelings at the time:

Yesterday, though, I could totally understand and empathise with our leader’s stance, driven as it was by the best of liberal, humanitarian and internationalist motivations. He made an absolute cracker of a speech, delivered with passion and confidence

I was glad, however, that my views were represented in the division lobbies by two of our MPs, Norman Lamb and Mark Williams. It’s a great credit to our party that we were able to debate this in a very serious manner and without rancour or recrimination.

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Tim’s best bits #1: That first speech as leader

At midnight on Wednesday night, the mantle of Liberal Democrat leadership will pass from Tim Farron to Vince Cable.

Over the next day or so, in the tradition of our finest reality tv shows, we’ll remind ourselves of some of Tim’s best bits.

The frist is that amazing speech he made the night he became leader, just two years and two days ago. The text is below.

For years, I sat where you are now.

I joined this party when I wFor years, I sat where you are now.

I joined this party when I was 16 years old. I’ve watched some great liberal leaders give some incredible speeches.

Steel. Ashdown. Kennedy. Campbell. Clegg. Imagine following in their footsteps? To say it is an honour is an understatement of epic proportions.

I remember sitting in the winter gardens at Blackpool watching paddy give his first speech as leader in 1988. And I remember feeling guilty because I’d left home in Preston that morning and there on the kitchen table was my round of focus leaflets I’d not yet delivered. I returned home to find that my Mum had done them for me.

So, I get to lead the party I joined as a kid.

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Tim had already decided to go before the election – remember where you heard it first

When Tim Farron came up and cooked my breakfast 3 days before the election, I had a feeling it would be the last time I saw him as leader. I’m not sure where that feeling came from, but it turned out to be right – unless I randomly bump into him in the next six days.

A few days after his resignation, when I’d almost calmed down, I wrote:

In trying to piece together the events of this week, I hear, though, that Tim had returned to Westminster in a positive mood. Friendly sources close to him tell me that he

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Tim Farron on the Conservative/DUP deal

Tim Farron has responded to the deal between the DUP and the Conservatives. He said:

The public will not be DUPed by this shoddy little deal. The nasty party is back, propped up by the DUP.

While our schools are crumbling and our NHS is in crisis, Theresa May chooses to throw cash at ten MPs in a grubby attempt to keep her Cabinet squatting in No 10.

It would be better for the people of Northern Ireland for the DUP to buckle down and focus on the talks process to restore devolved Executive at Stormont, to bring the political stability that is needed for inward investment and growth, rather than demanding cash injections from the Treasury.

Theresa May must make all the details of this agreement public immediately, so we can judge for ourselves if she is acting in the best interests of the country or of her own party.

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Tim Farron’s message for Eid

Here is Tim Farron’s message for Eid:

I would like to wish all those celebrating a happy and peaceful Eid.

For those celebrating, Eid will enable many Muslims to reflect on their own personal strength, particularly following the long fasts these summer days bring.

When travelling the country, I am fortunate enough to witness many examples of this strength first hand. Whether it’s in hospitals where thousands of Muslim doctors and nurses continue to provide excellent healthcare despite the increasing pressure our NHS is under.

Or in the countless towns and cities where businesses run by Muslims are driving our economy and overcoming the challenges of Brexit.

Or in mosques up and down the country who are organising charitable initiatives and promoting inter-faith dialogue.

These are just a few examples which make the heinous attack on Finsbury Park not just an attack on worshipers at the Mosque but an attack on us all.

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Patriotic media – an odd concept in a democracy

For some bizarre reason, the Tories seem to have let Andrea Leadsom out of the cupboard where they’ve been hiding her for the past wee while. On Newsnight last night, she told Emily Maitlis while under reasonably moderate pressure on Brexit that broadcasters should be more “patriotic.”

To suggest that the media should not question the Government’s actions on the most important issue facing our country in generations is chilling. The media should be there to scrutinise the government. It’s an important part of the scrutiny process.If it had done its job properly last year, we might not be in the mess we are in.

A press free to criticise the Government is one of the most basic elements of our democracy. Governments should expect to have their feet held to the fire. As it happens, I actually think that they get too easy a ride from some elements of the right wing press over Brexit.

Tim Farron was similarly horrified by Leadsom’s comments, saying:

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Queen’s Speech Round-up: What the Liberal Democrats said about it

The Lib Dem Press Office has issued a veritable storm of press releases in response to the Queen’s Speech today. Here’s a round-up of what our key figures said about their areas of expertise.

Tim Farron looked at the whole speech and was unimpressed:

This slimmed down Queen’s Speech shows a government on the edge.

Having dropped everything from the Dementia Tax to fox hunting I assume the only reason they have proposed a Space Bill is so they can shoot their manifesto into space and pretend it never existed.

People up and down the country are seeing our schools and hospitals in crisis.

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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:

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Tim’s resignation: Wrong reasoning, wrong cause, wrong result

There is a clear irony in this car-crash. Prejudice against Tim’s supposed prejudices appears to have led to his resignation. Since he neither expressed such prejudices, nor, if he had them, allowed them to influence in the slightest his work as Liberal Democrat MP and Leader, what he has experienced is itself prejudice, an attack on his freedom of thought.

It seems a disgrace that he should have been confronted by senior party figures and asked to resign, apparently because of the supposed views which he has not expressed. It was unfair, and the more so since the delegation to him was apparently of unelected peers accountable to nobody, overriding the wishes of members who had elected him.

To the watching world it looks as if he has been forced out on the basis of aspects of his Christian faith. So, whether from an internal or external viewpoint, our party grandees seem to have acted from prejudice, rather than supporting the leader over the media voices which have tormented him with persistent, intrusive but irrelevant questioning.

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The sudden death of Liberal England

I joined the Liberal Party the day of Margaret Thatcher’s first victory. I will be leaving its successor party the day after I return a spoiled ballot in the election for the next party leader.

As a party we have had our fights, our disagreements, and our debates. We have also proven that the strength of our shared commitments and ideals has been of a power that protects the very essence of what it means to be liberal and democratic.

One of my first committee appointments in the party offered the opportunity to work closely with Richard Wainwright, a devout Quaker. His faith guided him. At times, it made him uncomfortable. But, more often than not, his faith, which so few of us shared, offered him the impetus, the strength and, yes, the courage, to expect more of us than we often thought possible.

I worked in Liverpool on occasion with a Liberal city council that was helping re-shape that city. I was there the day of the Toxteth riots. Very soon thereafter, David Alton, our first MP from that city in so many years, and Eric Heffer, MP, sat down with Michael Heseltine and shape the only action plan I know of that caused Thatcher to have to admit that there was such a thing as society. Two of those men, Heffer and Alton, shared little. But they did share a faith and that faith shaped both of them in years of service that made the lives of so very many people so much better than it would otherwise have been.

Richard Wainwright and David Alton were not alone, but I worked with them well enough, and knew them well enough, to write what I did above with confidence.

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Evangelical Christianity and liberalism: the compatibility question

 

In an election supposedly predicated on the issue of Brexit, few Liberal Democrats expected the issues of gay sex and abortion to dominate the headlines for the Uk’s most unequivocally pro-European party in 2017. Tim Farron’s repeated refusal to answer the question as to whether gay sex was a sin during an interview in April resulted in exceptional news coverage of the Lib Dems, but for the wrong reasons. Having led the party to a succession of impressive by-election victories and surpassing his own target to reach 100’000 members 3 years early, it was – up until that point – going so well. Farron was forced to clarify his position in Parliament the following day, exclaiming “I do not” (think gay sex is a sin). Unfortunately for the Liberal Democrats, the costs of Farron’s 24-hour inertia were colossal.

I won’t hesitate to disclose that the unfolding of this story was somewhat uncomfortable for me, worsened by Farron failing to distance himself from a statement that “…abortion is wrong”, made in 2007. Whilst many of my compatriots dismissed these stories as irrelevant, citing Tim’s positive voting record on LGBT rights, I was initially less willing to swat it aside. As a former member of the Labour Party, I have borne witness to the absurd realities of blinkered party-political tribalism, and believe it to be a dangerous trait. From disposing our future prosperity through continued support of hard Brexit, through to dodging his ostensible links to the IRA, for some folk it’s clear that Jeremy Corbyn is incapable of wrongdoing. The obstinance of Corbyn’s loyalists are reminiscent of a cult. Liberal Democracy necessitates divergence from this configuration; the Liberal Democrats are the party of evidence-based policy.

Posted in Op-eds | 60 Comments

+++BREAKING: Tim Farron resigns

Tim Farron has stepped down as Liberal Democrat leader. In a searing speech, he said:

The text is below:

This last two years have seen the Liberal Democrats recover since the devastation of the 2015 election.

That recovery was never inevitable but we have seen the doubling of our party membership, growth in council elections, our first parliamentary by-election win for more than a decade, and most recently our growth at the 2017 general election.

Most importantly the Liberal Democrats have established ourselves with a significant and distinctive role – passionate about Europe, free trade, strong well-funded public services underpinned by a growing market economy.

No one else occupies that space.  Against all the odds, the Liberal Democrats matter again.

We can be proud of the progress we have made together, although there is much more we need to do.

From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith.  I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience.  Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.

At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again – asked about matters to do with my faith.  I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.

Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit.  The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.

A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.

To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.

I’m a liberal to my finger tips, and that liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me.

There are Christians in politics who take the view that they should impose the tenets of faith on society, but I have not taken that approach because I disagree with it – it’s not liberal and it is counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel.

Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in.

In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.

That’s why I have chosen to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

I intend to serve until the parliamentary recess begins next month, at which point there will be a leadership election according to the party’s rules.

This is a historic time in British politics. What happens in the next months and years will shape our country for generations.

My successor will inherit a party that is needed now more than ever before. Our future as an open, tolerant and united country is at stake.

The cause of British liberalism has never been needed more. People who will fight for a Britain that is confident, generous and compassionate are needed more than ever before.

That is the challenge our party and my successor faces and the opportunity I am certain that they will rise to.

I want to say one more thing: I joined our party when I was 16, it is in my blood, I love our history, our people, I thoroughly love my party.

Imagine how proud I am to lead this party.  And then imagine what would lead me to voluntarily relinquish that honour.

In the words of Isaac Watts it would have to be something ‘so amazing, so divine, (it) demands my heart, my life, my all’.

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    Gordon - thank goodness. A piece which is the perfect antidote to the totally uninspiring "parish magazine" school of FOCUS.
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    Thank you for sharing this Elizabeth.