++ Tim Farron announces diverse spokesperson team

Tim Farron has just announced his “frontbench” spokesperson team, and it is very diverse, with women leading on the economy and defence.

From the Liberal Democrats:

Tim Farron today set about ending the Liberal Democrats’ lack diversity at the top of the party – by naming the most diverse shadow cabinet team in the party’s history.

The new Lib Dem leader announced a spokesperson team including 12 women and 10 men to lead the fight back against the Tory government. There are six members of the House of Commons, 10 from the House of Lords and six are neither.

Tim also chose a team from both inside Parliament and out, from across the United Kingdom, and from people who served in Government and those who didn’t.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron MP said:

“I am delighted to be able to announce my team of party spokespeople. The team I am announcing today is the Liberal voice that Britain desperately needs.

“It features some of the best campaigners that the party has, balanced with the experience and economic credibility that our party has developed over the last five years in government.

“It was important to me to be able to call on the advice and experience of people at all levels of our party and I believe we have an excellent team to lead the Lib Dem fight back.

“Together, we will take our ideas, our values and our liberal messages to every corner of Britain. We will make the case for housing, immigration, Europe, environmentalism and human rights.”

The full spokesperson team is:
1. Leader: Tim Farron MP
2. Economics: Baroness Susan Kramer
3. Foreign Affairs/Chief Whip/Leader of the house: Tom Brake MP
4. Defence: Baroness Judith Jolly
5. Home Affairs: Alistair Carmichael MP
6. Health: Norman Lamb MP
7. Education: John Pugh MP
8. Work and Pensions: Baroness Zahida Manzoor
9. Business: Lorely Burt
10. Energy and Climate Change: Lynne Featherstone
11. Local Government: Mayor of Watford, Cllr Dorothy Thornhill
12. Transport: Baroness Jenny Randerson
13. Environment and Rural Affairs: Baroness Kate Parminter
14. International Development: Baroness Lindsay Northover
15. Culture Media and Sport: Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter
16. Equalities: Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece
17. Justice/Attorney General: Lord Jonathan Marks
18. Northern Ireland: Lord John Alderdice
19. Scotland: Willie Rennie MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
20. Wales: Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
21. Campaigns Chair: Greg Mullholland MP
22. Grassroots Campaigns: Cllr Tim Pickstone, Chair of the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors

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  • On a practical level, some one will have to speak for the party on Treasury and Business matters in the House of Commons, regardless of who holds these briefs in the Shadow Cabinet, and it would be helpful to know who this will be (Tim Farron himself ? Greg Mulholland ?)

  • I know it’s very difficult when there are only 8 MP’s, but to have Economics, Business, and Work and Pensions without a commons spokesperson seems strange. To most people these along with Health and Education are the big issues. Maybe it’s a clever way to avoid the petty arguments that will take place between the Tories, Labour and the SNP in the commons. I suppose this way the LibDem spokespersons can make their case in the calmer surroundings of the Lords or TV studios.

  • A good team but a little disappointing that Cllr Sue Derbyshire the only member we have on a devolved authority and Vice Chair of Greater Manchester Combined Authority was not used on say Devolution. Noone currently has more experience of what the Tories are tryign to do. Otherwise very good

  • Donald Smith 29th Jul '15 - 12:40pm

    Good gender balance, good experience and good to see two of the ex-MPs in there. Intersting feature – the spokespeople on Transport, and Work & Pensions are not the equivalent spokespeople in the House of Lords, whereas the other Lords are. What will be interesting is to see how much media time they can get for their portfolios. I suspect most papers and TV media will try and ignore them as much as possible.

  • There is a footnote dealing with parliamentary cover for portfolios without a spokesperson in parliament.

  • Hugh p 29th Jul ’15 – 12:05pm
    “….On a practical level, some one will have to speak for the party on Treasury and Business matters in the House of Commons, ”

    in practice 99% of voters will not know and will care even less who speaks in the HofC for the Liberal Democrats on those subjects.. Playing the parliamentary game is no longer a practical role for Liberal Democrats. We will have to have a lot more MPs before we need to worry about all that nonsense.

    One of the positive results of having only 8 MPs is that we can be an outward-facing party directed at getting our message across to the voters. I see Tim’s list as a good step in that direction. Well done Tim Farron.

    One of the cardinal errors of the last ten years has been to waste buckets of MPs’ time playing parliamentary spokesperson or minister or whip instead of operating in the real world. Danny the Hammer of Syriza beng the classic example. How many hours did he spend as the nodding dog behind a Conservative Chancellor? And how much good did it do him in getting re-elected?
    Let the other parties bury themselves up to the neck in arcane 19th Century procedures and abstaining on votes at second reading when there is a “R” in the month.

  • Charles Knight 29th Jul '15 - 12:45pm

    “I know it’s very difficult when there are only 8 MP’”

    The Lib Dem website lists 7…. a rather odd omission – what is going on there?


  • Good for diversity, of gender,race and experience.

    I must confess I’m disappointed Norman Lamb is only health spokesperson – I think his gravitas would have been better used in either Home / Legal affairs (his professional background) or Economic / Business issues which will be fundamental to this parliament. But I can understand his desire to stay in the field he’s had so much success in.

  • Paul Pettinger 29th Jul '15 - 12:52pm

    We were carving out economic credibility before we were in coalition, including under the likes of Dr Cable – we have lost credibility since buying into the conservative stagnatory austerity agenda. Please let’s embrace an authentic Liberal Democrat approach, rather than holding to toxicity of recent years. Otherwise a very encouraging few weeks – onwards and upwards

  • Meanwhile in the real world, the unionist Liberal Democrat party, with no female MPs is facing huge criticism in the Scottish press for having deselected its only woman MSP, Alison McInnes from her place at the top of the North East regional list.

    Alison was highly regarded both by independence supporters and unionists alike for, among other things, highlighting the problems with Stephen House’s leadership of Police Scotland. She was the obvious replacement for Willie Rennie after his series of disastrous electoral performances since becoming leader. Tim’s window-dressing will do nothing to hide the reality of what the party has become.

  • Well said, Al. The treatment of Alison is absolutely appalling and a reminder of the way Martin Ford was treated.

    Has the Scottish Party got a death wish ?

  • Joe Otten – can we have a link to this footnote ?

  • Well, I imagine “treating” Alison McInnes differently would have required a women-only shortlist, and possibly a change in the constitution? Or only giving the vote to members who knew what they had to do? Given that she is still second on the list “deselected” is an inappropriate form of words… Although as pointed out if things do not change her chances are unfortunately small.

    Perhaps the constitution (of the Scottish party?) should take account of new circumstances where getting more than one list MP in a region is difficult… Or perhaps the SNP should do something for democracy and bring in STV for the Scottish parliament, which would give all voters the chance to choose their MSP’s, instead of just the political parties, as now

    Meanwhile the “Scottish Press” is so far only the SNP-supporting (SNP mouthpiece?) The National…. At least as far as Google is concerned..

  • David Evans 29th Jul '15 - 2:45pm

    Am I the only person who thinks that the most important thing (and certainly for those who are interested in what we do but are not inside the Lib Dem bubble) is that this is a top quality team all the way through?

  • Phil Beesley 29th Jul '15 - 2:58pm

    The other day, Radio 4 sought somebody different to talk about pensions. Thankfully, they found Steve Webb. I hope he will be busy for a few years until his inside info expires.

    Ditto for Julian Huppert for his science and social tech understanding.

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th Jul '15 - 4:08pm

    Good inclusive and diverse team.

  • @tpfkar 29th “Good for diversity, of gender,race and experience.”

    But what about diversity of political outlook?

  • It’s easy to see why Clegg doesn’t get a spot; but I wonder why Mark Williams MP is overlooked?

  • @Charles Knight
    “The Lib Dem website lists 7…. a rather odd omission – what is going on there?”

    It lists all 8 in alphabetical order:


  • It is a shame there isn’t a commentary on why this team was created. I think it would have been nice if those not in parliament and those in the House of Lords all commented here from time to time as Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece does. Lots of these people I have never heard of and some have a familiar name but I can’t put a face to the name, such as Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter.

    It will be interesting to discover how liberal Alistair Carmichael is because as Chip whip reporting to conference he was “a bruiser” like when he was in the Scottish Office. I am disappointed that the economics spokesperson is Baroness Susan Kramer as she has such orthodox views on economics.

    In the list there is a role called “Campaigns Chair”. Is this the Chair of the Federal Executive sub-committee – “Campaigns and Communications Committee”? And if so when did the Federal Executive remove James Gurling and replace him with Greg Mulholland? (According to the website James is still chair of CCC, but the Federal Executive section does not seem to have been updated as it still has Nick Clegg as leader and Stephen Gilbert as the MP rep!).

  • Stephen Donnelly 29th Jul '15 - 8:11pm

    I am disappointed that Norman Lamb is still at Health. Whilst his campaigning on mental health was widely admired, there was hardly any disagreement between the main parties on that issue, and it led to us ducking some of the major issues on health.

    During the first half of the last parliament we support the Lansley ‘reforms’, which even the Tories have referred to as their worst mistake in government. During the second half of the parliament we did not take a distinctive position on the NHS, and on many issues appeared to have nothing at all to say.

    We responded to the funding challenges facing to the NHS so late in the day, that even members struggled to believe the pledges that we were making. The electorate was not fooled by the death bed conversion.

    We now need to distance ourselves from Jeremy Hunt, and to finally accept that we should not have supported Lansley. Norman Lamb may not be best placed to do that. I hope he proves me wrong, because I do not doubt his liberal intentions, but feel it might have been better for him to have had a fresh start elsewhere.

  • @TCO in my experience, when you have any 22 Lib Dems in a room, getting ‘diversity of opinion’ is rarely an issue. Getting them to agree on anything might be!

  • David Boothroyd 29th Jul '15 - 9:18pm

    This is the first time that the majority of the Liberal front bench has been Peers since the government of 1st Earl Russell in 1866.

  • No Europe spokesman? Catherine Bearder? William Wallace? Graham Watson? Did they all turn it down?

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Jul '15 - 10:12pm

    Two thoughts:

    1. It looks like a good team. I would say if I thought someone on that list wasn’t appropriate in that position.
    2. I think it is easier to praise suspected positive discrimination if you aren’t the one getting potentially overlooked, so I am not going to get too excited about it!

  • Richard Underhill 29th Jul '15 - 10:17pm

    Please will the MPs elect Norman Lamb as deputy leader.

  • All good, except that it’s not clear if there is a direct shadow to the Chancellor.

  • Conor McGovern 30th Jul '15 - 2:34am

    I don’t think it’s a great team. For one example, why was Susan Kramer chosen as economics spokesperson? Some of the main portfolios are bound to be taken up by members of the Lords, but let’s wait and see what it looks like after Clegg has entered the fray next year. Overall though, it seems like a more robust team could’ve been assembled given the amount of time it took.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 30th Jul '15 - 9:09am

    @ Conor,

    Two quick points.

    1. Why assume that Nick will re-enter the fray next year – ex-Leaders tend to take a (relative) back seat?

    2. Susan Kramer has a background in international banking and capital infrastructure financing. I would have thought that such experience would be a plus when choosing an economics spokesperson. And who, other than Nick, whose background pre-politics was in Europe and trade negotiations, would be better? You can’t just claim that someone is insufficient without explaining either why, or who instead?

    I’m quite pleased with the line-up, but then, unlike most of the rest of the Party, I’ve been observing what our Parliamentary Party in the Lords does, and know what skills exist there.

  • Mark V – it was reported in The Guardian.

    “The former deputy prime minister, who is keen to play a role in the cross-party pro-EU campaign in the runup to the referendum, is understood to be keen to join Farron’s team next year.”

  • Conor McGovern 30th Jul '15 - 11:29am

    Mark, I’m not sure an ex-banking baroness is our ideal candidate. The main problem is that in the Commons it will be Tim who covers economics. As for alternatives – Mulholland, Lamb? Not sure to be honest but it’s not great.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Jul '15 - 12:20pm

    Michael BG 29th Jul ’15 – 7:04pm ” .. I can’t put a face to the name, such as Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter … ”
    She came to the target seat of Maidstone to canvass several times during the general election.
    Her father, a former MP and peer, had spoken to us in the Liberal Summer school, which should be resurrected.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Jul '15 - 12:28pm

    don’t tell the tories, but if zac goldsmith resigns over heathrow or to run for mayor of london we might have a byelection in a seat we used to hold, so if our previous mp stays in the lords, how about putting up a former business secretary as candidate for the commons?

  • John Tilley 30th Jul '15 - 1:59pm

    Richard Underhill 30th Jul ’15 – 12:20pm
    “She came to the target seat of Maidstone to canvass several times during the general election.”

    Yes, lots of people were urged to go and help in Maidstone in the general election or urged to donate money to the campaign there. It proved to be one of the most disappointing results of the night.
    Despite being told in an e-mail from HQ only days before that we were on the verge of taking the seat the result was a very disappointing 24.1% which was more than 10,000 votes behind the Conservative. If those extra resources had been sent to Eastbourne or a number of other constituencies in the south east we would have more MPs today.

    I agree with you about the Liberal Summer school, which should be resurrected.

  • rita giannini 30th Jul '15 - 2:50pm

    No Europe? With the referendum? There must be something we don’t know……

  • Richard Underhill 30th Jul '15 - 4:39pm

    John Tilley 30th Jul ’15 – 1:59pm i was not running the campaign in maidstone, simply recording one fact.
    As for the money, i have previously blogged that the decision about diverting money was made by region.
    i am in Tunbridge Wells, which made a donation of £400. Other local parties donated at least once.
    i am not convinced that more money would have made a difference in Maidstone.
    Lots of leaflets were printed and delivered, but as a canvasser i was running out of things to say on the doorstep.
    i knew before polling day that we were going to lose, because i was delivering ds and ps in the best ward, not enough.

    i went to Eastbourne several times, and, from what i could see we should have won.
    Stephen Lloyd thought so too, before polling day. Afterwards he thought the electors had made a mistake.

    The MP for Lewes spoke at a fund-raising dinner in Tunbridge Wells and was also expecting to win again.

  • Richard Stallard 30th Jul '15 - 6:21pm

    “…how about putting up a former business secretary as candidate for the commons?”
    NOT a good idea! Outside of the LDs, he is one of the most hated men in politics. I know many people who will just switch off the telly the moment he comes on.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Jul '15 - 6:37pm

    The First Minister and Chancellor need amnintellectual challenge and are delighted that Labour’s Shadow Chancellor lost his seat in May. Without such a challenge the tories will behave arrogantly.

  • Richard Stallard ““…how about putting up a former business secretary as candidate for the commons?”
    NOT a good idea! Outside of the LDs, he is one of the most hated men in politics. I know many people who will just switch off the telly the moment he comes on.”

    Yup. I would not personally use ‘the H word’ but I do not like him and I too know many people who switch off at the sight of him.

  • Quite frankly any of the ‘payroll’ politicians would be the kiss of death for Tim’s fightback. Avoid giving them any profile especially Mr Clegg. Especially on Europe.

  • rita giannini 30th Jul ’15 – 2:50pm
    “No Europe? With the referendum? There must be something we don’t know……”

    If you look at the link I posted above you will see that Europe has been bagged by N Clegg. A mistake in my view but Tim rates him highly. And so the No camp will probably win.

  • richard boyd OBE DL 30th Jul '15 - 8:23pm

    Nice to see that the ALDC is to be involved in “grassroots” regeneration of the Party. Bit late though, but still very welcome.

  • Phyllis,

    I don’t think Nick Clegg has much power to influence people either way in the Euro referendum…. People are not go.ing to turn that vote into a referendum on Nick Clegg like the AV vote or even the last Euro election… or the last General Election for that matter. And letting Clegg get involved is a relatively low risk strategy for Farron himself, which might appeal…

  • Neil Sandison 31st Jul '15 - 11:16am

    There will be people in who we like ,Some we will wonder why they are not in, and people we will wonder why they are in at all .But overall Tim has made a balanced choice .We must be careful that the number of spokes persons does not become too unruly or large or it will come to look something like the lords!.

  • Andrew, people out there seriously dislike and distrust Nick Clegg with a passion. If he is on TV and radio telling people we must stay in Europe (and he will be), people will vote for the opposite. Seriously, do not underestimate how much ordinary people distrust Clegg. If you have any doubts, just count up how many Lib Dem MPs are left.

  • Phyllis,

    40% of people in Sheffield Hallam still voted for Nick Clegg. I am pretty sure that was the second highest Lib Dem vote in the country (slightly higher than Norman Lamb, anyway). There are many people in the Labour Party who hate Nick Clegg with a passion, but they all know already where he stands on Europe and I really don’t think they are waiting to hear what he says before deciding how to vote… They may well be waiting to see what Jeremy Corbyn recommends however…

    Meanwhile Clegg could well swing some Tory votes into the yes camp…

    My first reaction was like yours… Kiss of Death…. But having thought about it a bit more carefully i don’t think Clegg will do any harm in the yes campaign and might do some good… Where I am less happy is the idea that he would be the main person representing the Lib Dem viewpoint, because that may not help our popularity… This is a tricky one for Tim Farron, but no worse than the carnage likely to affect both Labour and the Tories… The party that could do very well here is the Green’s… They are united around an anti-EU stance (as far as I know) with a very different viewpoint from UKIP. If a pro-European is elected as Labour leader they could do very well, but if it is Corbyn then no…

  • Richard Underhill 31st Jul '15 - 12:50pm

    Wait for the PM’s announcements.

  • Richard Underhill 31st Jul '15 - 1:06pm

    Greens are pro-EU.

  • Richard,

    Oh, yes, my bad! So the Green’s are. I must have assumed that since they are opposed to “The EU’s……unsustainable economics of free trade and growth” they must be against the project as a whole!

  • John Tilley 31st Jul '15 - 1:23pm

    Richard Underhill 30th Jul ’15 – 4:39pm

    Richard, I am not blaming you for the disaster of the general election, Far from it. If the party had more people like you we would not be in the mess at the last leadership left for Tim Farron to clear up.

    I am just still irriated that people at the top ( in party HQ ) sent out appeals for money on the basis of false information. They must have known a week before polling day that Maidstone was not going to be a win, No candidate who is behind by 10,000 votes should believe they are going to win if there has been a reasonable amount of face to face contact with the voters.

    I agree with you that more money in Maidstone would have made no difference whatsoever. What would be interesting to know is what actually happened to the money that was sent in as a result of that e-mail.

    Just to repeat my earlier point, I am not criticising you Richard. but someone with responsibility for the national campaign wasted huge sums of money on what has been described as “comfort polling” and the ordinary members amd acivists deserve an explanation of what went on.

  • Sadie Smith 31st Jul '15 - 2:30pm

    Norman still at Health. I, for one, am pleased.
    This list came out shortly after Norman had picked up the care cost issue and been good on it.
    I think there is potential for a wide ranging brief. It is going to remain a huge issue and making all the linkages is something Norman can do well. There is no ‘only’ about it.
    I am glad topics have been clumped.
    I, too, think our MPs can spend time looking outwards. There will be issues most need to be in Commons for, but I would want it to be selective..

  • Simon Banks 1st Aug '15 - 9:21pm

    Still no info about this footnote Joe says explains about parliamentary cover for portfolios without an MP. Where is the footnote?

    I agree the omission of Mark Williams is odd, though there may be some reason such as another role about to be finalised. I would like to have seen Norman Lamb taking on Osborne in the Commons. But there are some good appointments. The next step is for these people to link in with others in the party with specialist knowledge who can support and advise them.

    John Tilley makes a good point which applies not only to Maidstone but also to other targetting decisions during the election, which appear either to have been biased or to have been based on very poor information or both. We’ve now made a mess of targetting in two successive general elections and we can’t afford a third, so this does need to be investigated and sorted out.

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