Tim Farron: my six commitments to the Liberal Democrats

Elections like this one should carry a health warning about the rash promises that are made often but rarely kept. So I’ve thought carefully about what we need from our President at this unique time for the Liberal Democrats. I’ve also asked others what they think. I reflected carefully on my strengths and what I can do to help build our Party’s profile, engage new supporters and develop our strength. So here are my 6 clear commitments to you and the Party.

As Ros Scott rightly said we need our President to fulfill a different role to the normal one. We must focus on communicating our distinctive, radical message to our members, supporters and the wider community.
Commitment 1: You’ll see me on your telly, hear me on your radio and read me in the blogosphere, online and in your newspaper. My goal is to inspire, motivate and reassure. To get across what we stand for as a radical and independent Party, distinct from the coalition.

The President has a major role in the Party’s campaigns, especially over the next few, vital months in Scottish and Welsh General Elections, the local government elections and the key Fairer Votes referendum. These are historic votes. We have to work our socks off as never before.
Commitment 2: I’ll be committed totally to our success and I’ll ask the same of you. I’ll use my experience as a proven campaigner to infect everyone with my enthusiasm and sheer determination to win. I will communicate with clarity and passion to keep ‘our eyes on the prize’. We’re not just delivering leaflets and banging on doors for the sake of it, but because we are out to change the world for good. So expect to say ‘hello’ to me at your annual dinner, your regional conferences and your local council by-elections because you’ll see me there.

Ros Scott worked hard with Chris Fox to make vital, overdue and valuable changes to Cowley Street – I support what was done and where we are going. So there’ll be no pointless overhaul of Cowley Street on my watch.
Commitment 3: I’ll work hard alongside Chris Fox and our Campaigns and Communications teams to win next year’s votes. I’ll use my experience of creating the highest Lib Dem vote share in mainland Britain to ensure we are the cutting edge of British politics in political campaign techniques and communications. I’ll also be our media ‘attack dog’. We’re doing great things to create fairness, opportunity and a new environment for our country and in our communities. Let’s get on the front foot, get out there to ‘sell’ the Liberal Democrats. Let’s also engage our members and supporters in making the policies that will impact positively on this Government and keep us distinctive as a Party.

Our councilors and Parliamentary candidates are hugely important. They have invaluable advice, experience and insight. But are we making the most of them since we entered the coalition? I’m not so sure. I’m not pointing any fingers, but I think we can do better.
Commitment 4: I will call all our 2010 Parliamentary candidates together to get their feed back, draw from their experiences and give them the inside track on our achievements in government.

Commitment 5: I will work with Lib Dem Ministers and our Campaigns Department to ensure that our councillors and candidates in 2011 and beyond get regular updates on our positions – especially attack and rebuttal lines. Our front line campaigners must know what we are achieving in government – and why it’s right!

Our lack of women MPs and MPs from black and minority ethnic backgrounds is completely unacceptable. We should be honest with ourselves. Our work in achieving diversity and gender balance has been ineffective and that needs to change:
Commitment 6: I pledge to make diversity my priority – despite being a white male, I can use my campaigning and fundraising experience to target support to candidates from under-represented communities, specially women and BME candidates.

Normally, our Liberal Democrat Leader does this communications work. Normally Nick would devote 100% of his time energizing our party and selling our message, while the Party President gets on with the internal stuff. But these are not normal times. Nick is busy running the country and that’s great! So our President needs to get out there and deliver a distinctive Liberal Democrat voice, making it clear what we stand for that’s distinct from the coalition, why people should vote for and join us, and why the Liberal Democrats can aspire to power in our own right. I hope I’ll have your support and help to do just that.

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This entry was posted in Party Presidency.


  • Did you pledge to vote against an increase in top up fees, Tim?

  • Hi Tim, I’d be interested in voting for you. However, Susan Kramer’s appearance on BBCQT last week was really impressive. I think she did a great job of explaining the more progressive and necessary side to coalition policy. Can you provide me with a link to a video that demonstrates your ability to “sell” coalition policy to Lib Dem members, to enthuse them? I’ve seen this, and it’s cool, but I’d like more please: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyjpSAu7iG0

  • @Chris Mills I think Tim is the only candidate who has the media profile to achieve what he has set out. We need a president who the media will listen to not just dismiss as someone with no real influence. The media have already shown that they are willing to listen to Tim and he will find it much easier to get onto our radios and TV’s than other candidates. What we don’t want is a president who wants to do all of the things Tim wants but cannot because they don’t have the profile they need to get on TV and on our radios.

  • Roy's Claret Army 11th Oct '10 - 3:52pm

    Yes he did and I will be jolly pleased should he ever keep his promise…

  • Tony Greaves 11th Oct '10 - 4:32pm

    Nice to see someone who understand that the world has changed, how it has changed and what is now needed.

    Tony Greaves

  • ‘So expect to say ‘hello’ to me’
    Have our LIb Dem MPs brushed up their social skills then? I have never seen any say hello to a party member they don’t know or have reason to speak to.

  • Grammar Police 11th Oct '10 - 6:53pm

    @ Fed Up. I have. Not all of them mind, but a decent number.

  • How about Commitment 7 – “Get the party OUT of this b****y “coalition””?

  • @Sesenco

    At what cost?

  • Rabi Martins 11th Oct '10 - 10:01pm

    I really welcome Tim’s pledge to do make “diversity a priority issue”
    But the more cynical amongst us might say we have heard siimilar promises from past presidents but we continue to struggle to catch up with the other two major parties on the diversity and equality agenda.
    It would be good to hear what radical proposals Tim has in mind to make real headway on this front.

  • crewegwyn,

    “At what cost?”

    The cost of staying in or the cost of getting out?

  • Andrew Suffield 12th Oct '10 - 7:40am

    I don’t think any member of the party has a priority of “make sure the Lib Dems are not part of the government”.

  • Andrew,

    Of course we want Lib Dems in government, we just would like to see some sort of return. Right now, today, as I write this, it feels like the party is giving up everything we hold dear. That probably isn’t the case, but it’s how it feels today.

    I welcomed the coalition because I wanted to see Liberal Democrats in positions of power, able to argue for Liberal Democrat policies and Liberal Democrat values, able to make a difference at long last. While we have had some successes, there have been no headline grabbers. It is time for our leadership and our MPs to step up to the plate and deliver some things which are distinctively and unquestionably Lib Dem, to show that our party is genuinely in government rather than just being room meat around the cabinet table.

  • Noel Thompson 17th Oct '10 - 11:08am

    Re- your commitments :- As Hon. President of Devon & Cornwall LDs I hope you, Tim, will turn up at the Devon & Cornwall/WesternCounties joint Regional Conference this Novemeber 20th:21st in Plymouth. We are the cockpit of Liberalism down here and have been for a century, though I suspect you know that!

  • Chrisstopher Carter 19th Oct '10 - 11:34pm

    Trying to be helpful, sorry if it sounds a little blunt.
    If I may summaries:
    Commitment 1: Make myself known to the media
    Comment: Good and not easy, but more important to make sure that LIbDem cabinet members are seen regularly on the media.
    Commitment 2: Be enthusiastic
    Comment: Hope so
    Commitment 3: Apply my experience to win more votes
    Comment: Would need some evidence that you can do it.
    Commitment 4: Have a meeting with MPs to get feedback
    Comment: I think that is part of the job description
    Commitment 5: Make sure everyone is singing on same hymn sheet
    Comment: Again part of the job description
    Commitment6: Try to get more women and blacks as candidates.
    Comment: Easier said than done. We do need the best applicants for the job. Making sure that the VIEWS of black people and women are fully taken account of would be more achievable.

    I don’t think being an MP is too much of an issue. After all many MP do outside jobs as well and there are distinct advantages to the President being ‘in the loop’. I think I need to know more about how you aim to achieve these things Tim. The PR vote is absolutely vital and I would have liked you to have said something about that. Also financing of political parties is a big issue.

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