Tim Farron on BBC Question Time tonight

It’s not often that I can bear to watch Question Time these days. I tend to take the view that my life is too short to cope with the likes of Quentin Letts or Melanie Phillips for an hour late on a Thursday night.

However, there is good reason to watch tonight. Here is the panel:

And here is Tim’s own billing:


I don’t want to speak too soon, but, not only do we have Tim, but, with the exception of Nuttall, none of the rest of them annoy me to the extent that I want to throw things.I can’t remember the last time I had that reaction to a Question Time panel.

Might we actually have something approaching a reasonable hour of debate? Find out at 10:45 on BBC1.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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22 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 19th May '16 - 11:54pm

    Tim was nice, but there’s not much hope for a big Lib Dem revival unless he changes a bit. The party might have to operate a bit like a Premier League club and look for another new leader if there is not much change in 12 months.

  • A Social Liberal 20th May '16 - 12:41am

    Tim did well tonight, as he usually does.

    Eddie, there is not going to be any sudden revival in our fortunes. It is going to take a generation for us to get back to where we were prior to 2010, and then only if we replicate the steps of the 1980s onwards – building from the bottom up.

    It would be a tragedy to lose Farron on the back of unrealistic expectations. Quite simply, our rebuilding is a ten year project and going all Sheffield United on us (9 leaders in 9 years) will only make our comeback that much longer.

  • Conor McGovern 20th May '16 - 3:07am

    Tim was decent but predictable. We need to go back to our Liberal roots but at the same time we should be wary of retreating to out comfort zone – on health, education, immigration, the EU – when we should be taking ambitious, eye-catching risks and often radical policies, ones that speak to people. I’ve yet to regularly see that in Tim.

  • Allan Brame 20th May '16 - 7:26am

    @Conor McGovern
    He didn’t choose the topics for discussion: the audience did that.
    Tim came across well, speaking with obvious passion and sincerity. If we are in single figures in the polls, a far higher proportion of the audience was applauding his contributions

  • Tim spoke eloquently and sincerely for me and those like me viz. Liberal Democrats.
    Can I ask how many Focus leaflets are delivered by Eddie Sammon??!!

  • suzanne fletcher 20th May '16 - 9:27am

    Tim spoke very clearly, no waffle, good use of language, sincerely and passionately.
    I don’t know what else we would want.

  • The first question chosen by Dimbleby and his team was a disgrace: something like ‘Is it racist to be in favour of Brexit?’ Presumably judged to be marginally better than ‘Is it racist to prefer white chocolate?’ Or was QT and Dimbleby deliberately intent on feeding moronic questions?

    Dimbleby also tended to side line Tim Farron and more and more gives the impression of pushing his own agenda.

    Tim Farron did well enough in the circumstances and made some good Liberal points, though he does lack the weight of previous senior Lib Dem panelists. Changing leader is simply not on the cards, though had the party had a working crystal ball a year ago, we would more likely be discussing Norman Lamb, but none of us were able to foresee what has happened to the Labour Party.

    Tim will have to regroup and reposition strategy after the Brexit referendum, but that would be in response to factors outside his control. He will probably need to try to be recognised as an important voice on a few significant Liberal issues; the plight of refugees is emerging as one such topic. What we can already do and should continue to do, is to explain that the foundation and working principle of the EU is democratic consensus and that the UK and its citizens have a full part to play in this process.

  • @ Peter Cook “if we had a recognized heavyweight like Nick Clegg we could garnish many more column inches than we will with Tim”,

    Peter Cook was, and one must assume still is, one of my favourite comedians.

  • Conor McGovern 20th May '16 - 11:31am

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Tim. And I know he didn’t pick the questions. I just think we’re going over comfort zone policies like on refugees – which I fully support – but WITHOUT anything bold or clear on economic reform, jobs or the workplace. People need a reason to pick up their ears and listen. If we only focus on our pet interests without acknowledging theirs, I fear we’re really limiting our room for votes.

  • A -17 Satisfaction rating for the Lib Dem leader I am afraid!!!…. Actually that was for Ashdown and Kennedy at about the same time in the leadership. Tim has -8 compared to -19 for Cameron and -5 for Corbyn. https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/88/Political-Monitor-Satisfaction-Ratings-1997Present.aspx and https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/2438/Political-Monitor-Satisfaction-Ratings-19881997.aspx

    People forget that Paddy in particular but also Charles struggled to get noticed in the first years – issues, events and their stances on events came to define them as they will Tim. History as for all politicians will be his judge but it has yet to pronounce. At the moment only 50% have an opinion one way or the other on him – the same as for Paddy at this stage.

  • Conor is absolutely right. It is a key Liberal tenet that we support the disadvantaged and refugees are a prime example. However, what should make Lib Dems better than the rest is that we acknowledge that refugees, when in large numbers cause serious problems – What needs to change to enable schools to cope? the NHS? How do we deal with the problem of the impact on job prospects for those in the underclass? How do we handle the impact of differing (and sometimes unacceptable) social standards between different communities? And many, many more.

    That is why the Liberals took a great leap forward after the SDP brought many new members who were prepared to say “Yes we want this and overall it is good, but how do we deal with the adverse impacts?” People then realised we were serious about the responsibilities of government. Reverting to core Liberal values alone is not sufficient.

  • Liberals need to stop telling others how to spend money we just don’t have and concentrate on where the money might actually come from. The last manifesto had costings and was recommending bigger cuts than the tories. Where has that arithmetic realism disappeared to? Since then Libs have become a poor mans green party with the predictable result of sharing the greens meagre support.

    Less trivial hopes and dreams and more practical solutions please! For example, when will Libs declare a common sense energy policy that faces the obvious reality that windmills and solar panels are not enough? We absolutely need gas so Libs need to discuss where this gas will come from in the future. We likely also need nuclear power too so just turning our face against Small Modular Reactors with almost zero knowledge of the subject is to continue living in the lala land of the coalition where the right to gay marriage was seemingly deemed to be far more important than the economic, housing or energy crises (the latter of which Huhne & Davey are largely responsible for btw).

  • Eddie Sammon 20th May '16 - 1:14pm

    A Social Liberal, I’m fine with being accused of talking nonsense, although I don’t agree.

    BrianD, none is the answer, I just felt a drop in hope for the party’s prospects after watching his performance. He knows some positions have been unpopular for a long time such as saying how good immigration is, but he keeps saying it.

    Like I said: he was nice though. It wasn’t a disaster. He comes across as tolerant.

  • I think Tim always acquits himself well. It was an interesting edition. Personally, I’m closer to Paul Mason on the EU.

  • @ David Evans : “That is why the Liberals took a great leap forward after the SDP brought many new members who were prepared to say “Yes we want this and overall it is good, but how do we deal with the adverse impacts?”

    Who do you have in mind ? Andrew Adonis, David Owen, Danny Finkelstein, Roger Liddle, Jeffery Tomas and of course the great Mike Hancock ? All ships that – for one reason or another – all passed in the night.

  • David Blake 20th May '16 - 2:57pm

    Haven’t seen this edition yet, but Dimbleby is a disgrace and should be dumped by the BBC. His attitude to us is something like ‘Oh, do I really have to bother with you?’. Why is it that the BBC catch on to particular presents – Jeremy Paxman and Andrew Neill are two others – and flog them to death?

  • Richard Underhill 20th May '16 - 3:44pm

    Martin 20th May ’16 – 10:44am Is there an audience vote on the questions?
    Tim was talking faster than he did in the Commons because he had lot to say.
    David Blake 20th May ’16 – 2:57pm Paxman in Brussels: Who really rules us? asked a trick question “Do you know who our MEP is?” If Paxman knows that there are several he should not be asking, if he does not know, he should.
    He also asserted that were lied to in 1975. That was, of course, before either House of Parliament was televised, but, as someone who has written about the “Norway” debate in 1940 he should know better. Harold MacMillan’s Lord Chancellor told the UK Parliament about the supremacy of the EEC. Harold MacMillan’s negotiator became Prime Minister and led a vigorous debate on our accession, supported from the opposition benches by Roy Jenkins and friends.
    ISBN 0 333 75411 5.
    In he southeast of England my vote for MEP was Catherine Bearder.

  • Sue Sutherland 20th May '16 - 3:56pm

    I’m with David Raw on Tim v Nick as heavyweights but as an exSDP member I couldn’t possibly comment on his second post. I didn’t see the programme but it sounds as if Tim got the audience to go along with him several times which is great. Rather than trying to be the centre party through austerity plans I think we should be going back to all our principles and standing up for the powerless and giving them hope. The SNP has managed to give people hope and so has Jeremy Corbyn in terms of the membership of the Labour Party, although his extreme left wing stances has alienated many. I don’t believe that hope will be realised.
    When we were in coalition we forgot the Liberal philosophy based on suspicion of power especially when you are wielding it, so we have to show we have learnt that lesson. Personally I’m very suspicious of any economic theory that results in more power and riches for the wealthy whilst clobbering the powerless. As Lib Dems we have a duty to reverse these policies, finding theories to support us just as Keynes did. Economics is only about theories so let’s be impassioned by justice just as Tim has been when standing up for the least powerful of all, refugees.

  • David Allen 20th May '16 - 7:16pm

    I’d give Tim 8 out of 10 for this, and I think David Evans gets closest to why it wasn’t 10 out of 10. Idealism needs to be balanced by practicality. So for example – Tim’s diagnosis of where and why the NHS needs more money was first-rate, but I’ll bet a lot of people were thinking “where does this joker think he can get all the money from?”

    If only Tim had added something like “The French, Germans and Americans all spend billions more on health than we do. The Tories are wrecking our NHS with gross under-spending and silly fights against the doctors.” That would have shown a better real – world attitude.

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