Tim Farron MP writes…It’s time to make a fresh start

This is a critical moment for our party and for our country. The general election was won through the politics of fear. But we need to be honest: we failed to make a strong enough case for liberal values. Now we face a new and greater challenge: to show that we are still relevant, to speak what we believe, and to prove that we matter. In a crowded political market dominated by negativity, we have to be clear about the beliefs and philosophy that set us apart.

This is a process which needs to involve the whole party, not just its leader. But this is what I believe.

As my hero William Beveridge once wrote, ‘Liberalism is a faith, not a formula’. The core of my liberalism is a belief in the essential goodness of men and women, an optimistic confidence in the capacity of ordinary people to make the most of their lives, fulfil their talents and realise their dreams. I believe it is the duty of government to make this possible – to create the conditions in which individuals and their communities can flourish.

Individuals can best pursue their dreams when they can control their own destinies. That means being free to act on their own values and commitments. A state that constantly interferes with personal life stifles individuality and demotivates people. But most people also need the support and respect of the communities they live in to be able to form and act on their own plans of life. Only a more equal society can provide the stable base most people need to succeed.

Equality and diversity are not mutually exclusive. People are different, have different passions and talents, choose different lifestyles and cherish different aims. When respected, those differences increase social cohesion and individuals’ sense that their lives are worth living.

Poverty, ill-health, poor housing and a lack of education are equally the enemies of freedom and of a cohesive society. Inequality makes life not only a struggle for those at the bottom of the pile but also ultimately makes life more fearful and less secure for those at the top.

The challenges in this new century are different from those of the last. The economies that succeed will be those that use resources efficiently, produce low-carbon products and services and invest in skills and innovation. Britain has real strengths here, on which we can build to generate jobs, prosperity, opportunity and wealth.

And we must never forget that some things matter more than profit or growth. The beauty of the  natural world, music, poetry, art, drama, literature, popular culture in its myriad forms and just spending time with other people all contribute to enjoyment and a sense of well-being.

Let’s lift our eyes beyond these shores. Alone amongst political parties, we Liberal Democrats recognise the importance of an internationalist outlook, of co-operation with Britain’s neighbours to fight crime, to protect the environment, to constrain corporate power and to combat people-trafficking. Being part of the EU brings us investment, security and clout.

And we must stay true to our passion for reform – to lead the calls for a new federalism inside the United Kingdom, the only way to keep the country together, and for a new voting system where parties can’t win power on just 37 per cent of the vote.

During the next five years these liberal values will be under attack as never before; we can already see Tory plans to bring back the snoopers’ charter, abolish the Human Rights Act, slash the welfare budget, undermine renewable energy and edge Britain out of Europe. Liberal Democrats oppose these policies wholeheartedly and we must make the case against them passionately and persuasively.

I am proud of what we achieved in coalition but saddened that our voice was muzzled. We did not lose our values. It was just that they were not heard. So let’s look to the future. Let’s work together to put our liberal values into action – action that resonates with what we believe and with a public that needs a liberal voice.

Let’s make a fresh start.

* Tim Farron is Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Agriculture and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.

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42 Comments

  • T L Matthews 16th May '15 - 9:08am

    Economic liberalism also means shifting tax onto land and other sources of economic rent, allowing a level playing field and ending the double taxation (private and public) that millions of citizens face in their lives. In so doing, we may also finally end boom and bust, urban blight and even the North/South divide.

    Understanding full liberalism will be important in the years to come, as inequality and a monopolising house market begin to create serious social pressures.

    Tim does support this policy and for this reason and many more, I welcome his candidature.

  • As a long-standing Economic Liberal, I welcome Tim Farron pointing to Beveridge as a hero.

    I recently came across something written by Jo Grimond in a letter to Beveridge.
    “…you are a household word, and one that will not easily be forgotten.
    For years pessimism has reigned and the Labour Party has whined. Your plan fitted in with a new mood….
    You have said that you want from the Liberals a policy far more radical than Socialism.
    I agree entirely and it wants to be an immediate programme.”

    Sounds good to me and remarkably appropriate to 2015.

  • I have no problem with Tim’s article but as a 2010 voter who was cast aside by the direction of the party, post election, I will say this.

    Until the Lib Dems offer a full and frank apology for their actions in government they will never again see my vote. I suspect that I speak for many who voted Lib Dem in 2010.

    If they duck this necessary part of the healing process I shall conclude that they have learned nothing and care not about those they have alienated and harmed.

    The ball is in their court.

  • Mason:
    I suspect that it will not be too long before comments such as yours will look a bit passé.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/16/george-osborne-july-budget-austerity-conservatives-deficit

  • Having quit the party in 2010 after being a member sincec 1987,I took no pleasure in seeing the inevitable,though EVEN WORSE then expected,obliteration of Lib/Dem MPs in the General Election.As everyone rallies,looks ahead,we MUST really consider why the meltdown was so huge.The fact I am CONSIDERING a return to the ONLY party Id consider being a member of and as Im commenting HERE,A FIRST for me.Ive never commented or visited this site before two days ago (I made my first ever comment then,so this being my second, (er…if Ive confused you,sorry) The fact Im deeply deeply concerned about the parties future brings me here.Maybe even back into the fold?.I just dont know whose best placed to lead the party.I do think the heart,the soul of the party is in every town,village,city in the land.Its always been so.I believe its from this family of grassroots activists the direction will come.It always has.

  • Philip Rolle 16th May '15 - 12:10pm

    Why is edging Britain out of Europe necessarily an attack on liberal values?

    You see, this is exactly what in future the party must not do. You are suggesting that anyone who is Eurosceptic cannot be a liberal. This will hardly broaden the appeal of the party.

  • Philip Rolle

    Hopefully the party will get rid of it’s absurd EU policy of an In/Out vote when a referendum is triggered and allow people to vote on the merits of the proposed change without the threat of pulling out of the EU .

  • Kevin:
    You do not appear to understand how treaties are arrived at. They are the result of lengthy negotiation involving compromise with give and take. The democratic input should be in the negotiating phase. It is no use having a ballot where people from one country say we do not want the ‘give’ but we will have the ‘take’. This is why the question has to be to accept or reject everything.

    Philip Rolle:
    You have got it wrong: any one who is a Europhobic cannot be a Liberal. It is a fundamental feature of Liberalism to be a sceptic at all levels of government EU, Westminster and Local. As it happens the most intense centralisation and usurpation of powers happens to be at Westminster, so do not be surprised if Lib Dems are more Westminstersceptic than Eurosceptic.

  • Eddie Sammon 16th May '15 - 1:18pm

    Thanks for writing to us Tim. Unfortunately I don’t understand what Tim wants. The political spectrum matters. Does he just want centrism on economics whilst being left on everything else? Why shouldn’t we opt out of the Human Rights Act? I don’t know anything about it, but we can’t rally around something just because it has the words “human rights” in the title.

    I agree with Tim on the fundamental goodness of humans, but I don’t want the party to just motivate itself by opposition to conservatives. Yet again, not much criticism of Labour and nothing about making the party more pro business. Labour lost the small business vote, we can’t just copy them.

    Best wishes

  • To Tim Farron: if by any chance you read any of this, re:

    “I am proud of what we achieved in coalition but saddened that our voice was muzzled. We did not lose our values. It was just that they were not heard”

    Do you have any ideas how we can be heard? It will be much, much harder to attract attention now than it was when you say we “were not heard”. I am sure this is the nub of the matter and a very genuine question. Whichever of the candidates can convince and offer most in terms of communicating outside our own supporters and even outside the political bubble needs to become the leader.

  • @Martin 16th May ’15 – 11:42am
    “Mason:
    I suspect that it will not be too long before comments such as yours will look a bit passé.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/16/george-osborne-july-budget-austerity-conservatives-deficit

    I doubt it. In three years time, if what we all project to be the result of this election follows – that the Tories inflict untold suffering throughout the land and the Tory party becomes increasing the object of hatred – there will be absolutely no dividend to a Tory association. The average member of the public who hates them will not have a politically convenient dividing line in their mind. They will perceive the Tories as a force that has gotten worse and worse over time, and when the coalition is mentioned, voters will simply think of the Tory policies of the present and then think of the Lib Dems as group of people who used to hang out with them.

    Because the only people who have an interest in remembering the good things the Lib Dems did in coalition will be party members. No one else will remember – and why should they? And talking about the coalition in five years time will be like bringing up student fees two months ago – it will end in tears.

  • Paul In Wokingham 16th May '15 - 1:32pm

    A few days ago I went to Evensong at Temple Church in The City of London. I went because I work just a few minutes walk away and because it was an interesting and unique service to commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta – an event closely associated with Temple Church as it was there on May 9th 1215 that King John signed the charter that guaranteed the right of The City of London to elect its own Lord Mayor.

    Those in attendance at the service including the Bishop of London, the Lord Mayor of London, the City of London Corporation, and many judges and barristers. During The Magnificat (a standard part of Evensong) we got to the lines He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. I looked around at the sleek, well-groomed congregation and thought “Discuss”.

    If Liberalism is to mean anything in the 21st century it has to be about fighting for equality of opportunity, against privilege and hypocrisy, and being unafraid to talk truth to power. I hope and believe that Tim Farron can provide the leadership to do that and to give the Liberal Democrats a distinctive, inspiring and radical voice.

  • David Allen 16th May '15 - 1:58pm

    Eddie Sammon said:

    “I don’t want the party to just motivate itself by opposition to conservatives.”

    The party has pulled its punches against conservatives for five years, and as Bolano points out, the Teflon Tories will eventually get the blame they deserve for their unfairness and financial incompetence (yes, you heard that correctly, the disastrous laissez-faire banking policy which caused the crash originates on the political Right). If Lib Dems cannot move decisively out of the Tory camp, they will get buried inside it.

    “Yet again, not much criticism of Labour”

    Er, remind me, hasn’t one N Clegg repeatedly criticised Labour for years? As for the position with Labour now, I would suggest that there’s not much point in criticising a chaotic reconstruction work in progress. Once Labour has a leader, the Lib Dems should go back to what they used to do well – Challenge Labour with better ideas.

    ” and nothing about making the party more pro business.”

    Er, read Farron’s paragraph 7 again, and you’ll see that it is all about business and enterprise. Farron says that what will make British business thrive includes innovation, investment, skills, and moving quickly into growing markets such as low carbon energy. He’s right. The Tories think that being business-friendly means giving tax breaks to rich businessmen. Let’s be the real enterprise party!

  • @John Tilley I welcome your support for four cornered Liberalism and look forward to working with you on its adoption as party policy

  • @Martin:
    Mason:
    I suspect that it will not be too long before comments such as yours will look a bit passé.
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/16/george-osborne-july-budget-austerity-conservatives-deficit

    In five years time they’ll be lots of young graduates who have finally had the reality of being saddled with a life time of student debt finally hit them. The Lib Dems will just be seen as a party of potential Tory enablers, a party that you definitely don’t vote for if you’re anti-Tory.

    The party was repeatedly warned by some of it’s more thoughtful members about what this coalition could mean and it did it anyway, it would seem that even after the defeat it still hasn’t sunk in yet.

    The Lib Dems are not mainstream party any more. They’re not the third largest in either seats or votes. They have 1 MEP and 8 MPs. Listen to those Liberals who have been proven right, because if more mistakes are made the party may cease to exist and any meaningful political force at all.

  • Eddie Sammon 16th May '15 - 2:34pm

    I keep seeing people say we need to elect Tim in order to move further to the left. Christine Jardine has even said it is good that he wasn’t a coalition minister and said we need to move away from the “Orange Bookers”. Clegg is not Jeremy Browne type of liberal and that has been clear for some time.

    Very disappointed and if Labour elect Liz Kendall or Mary Creagh then I will probably be off in a shot. No future in lurching back to the left and disowning the coalition.

  • Tom Maclean. .. I hear you. I’m a longstanding party member who /almost/ left in 2010. In the end I stuck with it, but it was a close run thing, and I don’t blame you at all for leaving. In the end I stayed because there are so many good people in this party, and its values are more enduring than the actions of its leaders during any one parliament. Nick & co got a lot wrong in the coalition. But for me, 7th May was a bit like having a boil lanced, or a tooth removed. You know what I mean? It was unpleasant, but it was also a relief and it created an opportunity for a new start. All members have just received an email from party HQ with a link to a survey asking us our views about the election and about the future. We’ll also get to vote for our new leader, and the opportunity to participate in discussions about where we go from here. Now, forgive me for being presumptious because I don’t know you. However, you are a Liberal. You should be part of these discussions and this leadership vote. I totally understand why you left, but those circumstances don’t apply any more. This is your home, and we need you. Join. 🙂

  • Eddie Sammon 16th May '15 - 3:20pm

    David Allen, he is saying the same things the party has always said about business. It is not good enough. Small business owners need to feel that the Lib Dems are on their side and they need more than platitudes.

    Tim has support of some people in the party who are bordering on far left. Tim must either go around saying he agrees with everyone besides tories or he does actually want to drag the party over to the left.

    I would love Norman to win, but if Tim wins on a left wing platform then I would urge a break away from the party.

  • Eddie Sammon,

    You seem intent on defining yourself in terms of the completely artificial left-right line. The reality is that Liberalism is neither left nor right, but is at the third point of a triangle with socialism and conservatism at the other apices. It has been a huge mistake by the party to try and insert itself into the tiny gap (or “centre ground” ) between two authoritarian parties. I think that there are signs that Tim Farron realises this – he does not talk of the centre ground, but of his principles. Some things the Tories get right, some things Labour – but on many many things they are BOTH wrong, and we should say so…

  • I don’t think we should apologise for going into coalition. It was the only thing to do at the time…

    But those who broke the pledge should apologise for breaking it, not just for making it. And we should apologise to students for saddling them with huge lifetime debts, when we could have insisted on a graduate tax (which I would have been happy to pay from 2010 onward by the way, since I got free university education).

    As for economic liberalism, I distrust it. Too often it is an excuse for laisser-faire capitalism. There are many things that are accepted practice today which just look crazy to me and most people I talk to.. For example paying private enterprise entirely out of taxation to run prisons and old people’s homes. The private finance initiatives where private individuals make money out of hospitals… (or alternatively are allowed to go bankrupt) And above all the banks, which can continue paying huge bonuses to people out of MY tax money! Sorry! I do not agree! And I do not agree that these huge salaries are “necessary” to attract talent. And the idea that the success of a business depends on EVER INCREASING profit, not on stability, gainful employment and investment for the future (the Germans with their family-owned businesses do so much better here…) But these daft ideas came out of the Adam Smith Institute, and have been adopted by Tories and Blairites alike.

    So I am a believer in the mixed economy, not in socialist planning, but in proper regulation that gives a chance to small business over big business and does not allow “enterprise” to take over the proper function of elected government

  • @Martin:

    “Mason:
    I suspect that it will not be too long before comments such as yours will look a bit passé.”

    If you believe that, then I fear that you have not fully understood the significance of what has just occurred and how much danger the Lib Dems are in.

    There is a very real possibility that your party may end up being nothing more than a fringe movement in perpetuity unless you take seriously the comments made by ex-supporters.

    They were ignored and disrespected during the last parliament and disaster has struck. The smart move would now be to listen to them rather than continue with the same old routine.

    Additionally have you not yet realised that the success of the Tories on May 7th is, in many ways, directly the fault of the Lib Dems.

    Suppose in 2010 they had stood by their (stated) principles and held faith with those who voted for them. Then imagine that throughout the last parliament they had saved their most savage criticism for Tory policy whilst recognising that they are ideologically closer to the Labour party and viewing them as a useful anti-Tory ally going forward.

    Come 2015, Labour would probably have faired better and the Lib Dems may have increased their share of the vote at the expense of the Tories, as the Lib Dem curbing of Tory madness would have been highly visible and valued. Had this occurred (as I, and many others, advocated) we would most probably now have a Labour/Lib Dem coalition and a brighter future ahead of us all.

    My point is, don’t think for one moment that the Lib Dems will not be held accountable for what occurs over the next 5 years (in addition to the last 5) because they most certainly shall and this will limit their resurgence further still.

  • @mason that is predicated on believing that a coalition with labour is a good thing.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 16th May '15 - 7:14pm

    @ Mason,

    It also assumes that a minority Conservative administration could, or would have wanted to, stagger on for five years. You appear to assume that it would have done – you may be in a very small minority if you do believe that.

    But, let’s play the game. The Conservatives have won most seats – 306 – and a discredited Labour administration has limped off to have its wounds tended. The Liberal Democrats are invited to join the Conservatives in forming a government. Your answer is to say no. Why? Because the Conservatives are evil, or because we should align ourselves with our progressive brethren?

    Bear in mind that a sizeable number of senior Labour figures have made it known that they couldn’t accept any such arrangement, that any such coalition would require the combination of at least four different parties and that Labour have no plans for what to do in such a situation – as admitted by Andrew Adonis subsequently.

    But, despite all that, we decide to stay out of government. The Conservatives attempt to limp on for a little while but lose a series of votes in both the Commons and the Lords and decide to go back to the country – no Fixed Term Parliaments Act, see.

    All three parties campaign on a platform of massive cuts again, and this time, determined to get rid of Labour, Liberal Democrat voters switch to the Conservatives. Labour are pretty much unchanged, but a swathe of Liberal Democrat seats go Conservative – just as they did in 2015. The Conservatives get in, offer up a referendum, shooting the UKIP fox before it has chance to draw breath, and romp home in 2015/16 against a Labour opposition who can’t admit what everyone now believes, that they shouldn’t have been running budget deficits in the period from 2003 to 2008.

    You assume that we are a party of the centre-left, whereas we are liberals, operating as much on a liberty/authoritarian axis as a left/right one. On the former, we see Labour as almost as bad as the Tories, ID cards, 90-day detention, illegal wars, being just three of the arguments where we disagree.

    Too many Labour activists assume that we have no right to power except under their tutelage. They then scream betrayal if we do anything else. The outraged complaint that we only went into government for the ministerial cars does rankle. After all, do Labour politicians have some stranglehold over political principle? I think not. Do I accuse them of merely wanting power? No, for politics is about gaining the opportunity to put your principles into practice.

    So, your lecture is unwelcome and, frankly, unhelpful. If a Labour opposition, faced with a government obliged to make serious cuts on spending for five years, is unable to get within six percentage points, you might like to analyse their failures.

    The voters spoke on 7 May. I might not like what they said, but I respect their right to say it. We will learn from the experience, and rebuild, hopefully in a new way for a new politics. Best of all, we’ll do it as liberals. I fear that you will never understand the significance of that last sentence…

  • With Labour arguing amongst themselves and with the Unions, would it not be a nice time for us to be so united that we do not need a leadership contest with one of the candidates standing down Just a thought..

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 16th May '15 - 7:27pm

    @ Theakes,

    A contest gives us cause to debate direction and inform the candidates of our views. Unless, of course, you aren’t confident that your preferred candidate would win a contested election… 😉

  • Jane Ann Liston 16th May '15 - 7:59pm

    @Mark Valladares

    Not to mention the fact that only the Tories would have been able to call upon the required financial resources to effectively fight a second election so soon after the first.

    You are also right to draw attention to the inadequacy of the left-right linear model. A 2D or perhaps 3D model is needed to accommodate LibDems along with Labour and the Conservatives.

  • Mark, I am thinking of the image of the party as compared to Labour and UKIP etc. One thing the party has failed to understand over the past 4 years is how it has been perceived by the public and it has led to the 4 years of electoral disaster. My feeling is that it would be rather pleasant and a contrast to those other parties if we presented a totally united front now. Just watching the Gerrard farewell at Anfield reminds me of those days when we controlled Liverpool and held all seats in Anfield ward. Delivering leaflets there in the 70 and 80’s brings back lots of memories. Now look at us 1 seat only this year. A united front now would be a clear indication to the public that we are going forward without any sort of rancour and would get better press coverage. Having been as right as anyone about the result last week perhaps I am right about this. As I said just a thought.

  • @Mark Valladares

    Had they remained outside of government in 2010 they would have been able to block and then highlight the ugly side of the Tories rather easily I suspect.
    If the Tories had then decided to go back to the polls 12 months later this would probably have diminished them, not strengthened them as you suggest. Quite why you would believe that I don’t know.

    I have never suggested that the Lib Dems should have joined with Labour in 2010 nor do I believe that Labour are in any way ideal (best not to make assumptions that I am a Labour die hard, I’m certainly not).
    I do however view them as the lesser of 2 evils when compared to the Tories and I think it is fair to say that the Lib Dem manifesto has less conflict with that of Labour’s (although given the way the party has steered itself, this is hard to believe).
    This being the case the Lib Dems strategy of declaring outright war on a party they have more in common with whilst cosying up to a party they have less in common with is intriguing to say the least.

    Another thought – Had Clegg made it clear that his preference in 2015 was to support Labour over the Tories (post election) it would have been far harder for the Tories to play the SNP card. Another example of the Lib Dems assisting an extreme right wing agenda?????

    I also believe that it may be wise to refrain from making comments about the economic legacy of Labour.
    I think we both know that the untruths spread in this area are nothing short of a national scandal and regrettably not all of this has come from the Tories.

    I don’t think of the Lib Dems in terms of left/right (silly distinction anyway) so I am on the same page as you there but I did expect them to be trustworthy.
    They proved otherwise (on a scale not seen before) and irrespective of whether you wish to accept it or not this is the reason for their current predicament and that of the nation as a whole.

    The overall tone of your earlier mail leads me to believe that the Lib Dems will try to stand by the mantra that they have no apology to make to their 2010 voters.
    That is their prerogative but I can honestly tell you right now that there will be a further price to pay for doing so, as such a strategy will seriously hobble any chance of recovery.

    My words might not be welcome nor helpful in your view but I would suggest that you need to hear them and the party needs to begin showing a little humility.
    Lack of humility is a large part of why the Lib Dems arrived here (and brought the country to this pass) in the first place.

  • Stephen Hesketh 16th May '15 - 10:08pm

    JohnTilley 16th May ’15 – 10:23am
    “As a long-standing Economic Liberal, I welcome Tim Farron pointing to Beveridge as a hero.
    I recently came across something written by Jo Grimond in a letter to Beveridge.” :

    “…you are a household word, and one that will not easily be forgotten.
    For years pessimism has reigned and the Labour Party has whined. Your plan fitted in with a new mood….
    You have said that you want from the Liberals a policy far more radical than Socialism. I agree entirely and it wants to be an immediate programme.”

    Sounds good to me and remarkably appropriate to 2015 … So so true John. I do love it when your posts are allowed through.

    I too am an economic Liberal but like Beveridge and your good self, I am happy with the official economic position of the party:

    “We will foster a strong and sustainable economy which encourages the necessary wealth creating processes, develops and uses the skills of the people and works to the benefit of all, with a just distribution of the rewards of success. We want to see democracy, participation and the co-operative principle in industry and commerce within a competitive environment in which the state allows the market to operate freely where possible but intervenes where necessary … We recognise that the independence of individuals is safeguarded by their personal ownership of property, but that the market alone does not distribute wealth or income fairly. We support the widest possible distribution of wealth …

    Rather than ‘Four-cornered Liberalism’ far to many who claim this position appear to believe in a one sided free market free for all which is far too close to the Thatcherite agenda for my taste 🙁

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 16th May '15 - 10:45pm

    @ Mason,

    So, if the Tories had an evil side in 2010, it should have been easy to bring it to the public’s attention, shouldn’t it? So why would it have been easier just six or twelve months later? Wishful thinking, I suggest.

    Which particular untruths about Labour’s record are you suggesting. It is a matter of record that, when the economy was doing well between 2003 and 2008, Labour were running an increasingly large budget deficit, the precise reverse of what Keynesian economics would require. That budget deficit meant that, when the crash came – which I frankly don’t blame Labour for – the budget had no slack to allow for an Keynesian injection of infrastructure spending. That, I do blame Labour for.

    And, actually, I’m perfectly relaxed about the notion that the Party got things wrong in government. On the other hand, in a coalition, you get some of the things you want in return for some of the things they want. We’d be in the same position in coalition with Labour. At least, one presumes so, although as a former urban liberal, my experience is that Labour want control, whereas the Conservatives want power – they aren’t necessarily the same thing.

    So, what I think we should apologise for is not what you think we should apologise for. But then, I’m a liberal and understand what that implies, whereas you appear not to be and wish to establish your interpretation of liberalism as truth. Your view appears to be that we had no right going into coalition with the Conservatives, and that we should be content to be an adjunct or civil liberties conscience to the Labour Party, propping it up as required.

    And finally, if you really think that an early indication of preferential support for Labour would have enabled us to hold the seats that we lost to the Conservatives, the evidence of voters fearing a Miliband-led government hardly supports that contention.

    So, no humility, more the honesty of explaining the implications of coalition government and having the debates publicly, the failure to do the latter in the early stages of coalition being one of the mistakes we made. in return, it would be nice if you acknowledged that asking us to prefer one evil over another is hardly a convincing argument.

  • We need a leadership contest because with only 8 MPs, leaving aside the one necessarily standing down, there is no obvious first choice. Presumably it will be between Lamb and Farron (sounds like a pub), but both in various ways have much to prove, chief amongst which is the ability to communicate with a wider audience.

    My optimistic hope is that a contest will reveal hidden strengths!

  • A number of people seem to believe that time will stand still until 2020.

    An EU referendum will have a major impact and could rewrite the psephological map . There are considerable dangers for Lib Dems. We should note the Scottish referendum and be very wary about standing alongside the Tories; we can assume that an IN vote win is likely to be followed by a backlash to the benefit of UKIP; anything other than an overwhelming victory would merely leave the issue festering more poisonously; an OUT vote, particularly if it is only a little over 50%, would also be followed by an almighty backlash in which we would gain support, but in unmanageable political chaos.

    I think we should be extremely careful with how we handle an EU referendum. I think we should emphasise the principles and leave Cameron to do all the scare stories. I certainly would not like to see a lot of our slender finances used up in the campaign.

    Whether anyone let alone the two candidates can steer a path through all of this is very much an open question.

  • Boundary changes will rewrite the psephological map too, and will make things very difficult for some of our MPs if the 2013 proposals are adopted… Leeds NW was going to be split off into 2 new seats for example, neither looking very promising…

    Regarding the referendum – I think people expect us to campaign to stay in, and I doubt if we would be big losers in a post-YES fallout (given where we start from) The danger for the Tories is much greater. Cameron is going to say he has successfully renegotiated but many of his MPs will disagree and further defections to UKIP could occur

    I assume there will be a need for some footslogging…

  • Thanks to both candidates for offering to lead our party – and for posting here and no doubt reading the comments. There is a different language from each one but common ground as we would expect from those who worked so closely together. A new emphasis on vision for the party and better, joined-up communication to the public will come from both. Let’s hope they continue to work closely together – whatever the result of the leader election.

    This morning, we have 57,565 members via http://www.libdems.org.uk/join thousands of which will not fit neatly into new political decision-making. We all have our choices to make from a wide pallet of views. But a new consensus will surely emerge during the difficult early period of opposition to this government.

    In parliament, as in the country, we will go back to our roots, and could also use the wider communication technology to spread the word that we are coming forward with ideas and campaigns to promote those visions we do agree upon. How we discuss and vote as a party has wide implications for our future. Committees have their value but bringing all members’ views together can be a renewed aim of our party – using the technology now available. Best wishes to both candidates and a happy Summer to everyone – in order to build strength out of defeat.

  • Philip Rolle 17th May '15 - 12:04pm

    Martin: What is a Europhobe? Assuming that it is not a person who goes round setting fire to French restaurants, why can such a person not be a liberal?

  • Angela Davies 17th May '15 - 12:20pm

    Yes the Election was won on the politics of fear but that would be held as normal by Thomas Hobbs who held ha mankind as a whole are ruled by fear and greed. These are not attributes any of us would sign up to by appear to be alive and well as much as in the 16th century.
    Unfortunately for us we are fighting against the natural state of man

  • @ Mark Valladares

    Thank you for your replies Mark but I have to say that I find the content of them truly extraordinary given the (fully deserved) state of your party.

    Rather than continue by unpicking and invalidating most of what you have said (pointless in this case) can I ask but one further question?

    Is, what you have written here the official position of the Liberal Democrat party?

    &

    is this really what the Lib Dems now intend to take to the nation, in an attempt to win back the vast number of supporters they disrespected, betrayed and alienated?

    These two questions will probably determine whether the party has any future (by no means a certainty) so I would advise giving some careful consideration to whether this is really the most seaworthy ship available.

  • Tim Farron is the right leader for the future. Pessimists may not believe in a government future for the party. However, the time is right to assert true Liberal ideas( the new radical alternative to the bland middle) and remind everyone that the history of the party was one of positive reform that focussed on Justice Equality and Fairness for all. A party that stands for theses values will always be a part of our United Kingdom. There is a fight to be fought and a battle for hearts and minds to be won. I am sure that Tim Farron is up to this fight. In the words of William Blake ” I will not cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, till we have built Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land.

  • Tim, I am so pleased you are standing as you speak from the heart. Our party is at a very low point and needs you to inspire us with your vision. Many people in the country need hope for a better life and no one is offering that hope but I believe this party can under your leadership. We need to find our core and from that will come the flourishing of ideas without regard for left or right or what happened in coalition but concern for our country and it’s people who need a different vision for the 21st century

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 17th May '15 - 2:59pm

    @ Mason,

    I very much doubt that my position is an official one – I’m a Local Party Officer in an unfashionable part of the country. It is, however, my stance when faced by someone whose interest in the future of the Liberal Democrats is predicated on the notion that we should always back Labour over the Conservatives. If we were to do that, what would be the point of us?

  • I supported the Green Party i the last election although having been a supporter of the Liberals since 1974

    I could not support Nick Clegg’s joining a coalition with the Tories and said in 2010 that the party would pay dear in lost of votes and seats and sadly they did; despite being told I was talking nonsense

    However that is now history and hopefully the Liberals have learned from that dreadful mistake

    Perhaps under Tim’s leadership (hopefully he will be elected) the Party will move back to the Left (avoiding being run over in the soggy centre) and embrace Green ideas – they might gain many Liberal voters & votes lost between 2010 and 2015! We do need a radical Liberal Party to be strong to defend our civil liberties being trampled on by the previous Labour Government and the current Tory one! We need a Green agenda for the future – which the Liberals were the first party to have before the coming of the Green party – always strong environmentalist and ecologists

    We need a party wholly committed to the EU (Libs. first to support EEC) and ever closer union & more democratic control

    Liberal values will only triumph with a fundamental return to policies reflecting those much needed (esp now!) values

    Closer links with the Green party might then become possible – as the best way forward

    I don’t like referenda (?) but if we have to have one bring it on! This is the chance for a Liberal/Green voice to be heard and for the revival to begin

    Finally does the Party need a name change – Liberal? Green Liberal?

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