Tim Farron on Question Time: Open Thread

It’s time to gather together your Question Time survival kit – at least two of the following:


A nice up of tea

Gin on an intravenous drip

A nice glass of red


Pillow to hide behind or bite when Melanie Phillips  is on (although there is an argument we should be grateful it’s not Katie Hopkins, although a Hopkins vs Farron encounter would be deeply entertaining.

Tonight, though, at least we have Tim Farron on. He’s been on stonking form recently and he has made it very clear what he thinks of both Theresa May’s and David Cameron’s speeches this week.

Those lovely people in the Lib Dem Press Office have given us this to help us:

Do comment during the programme.

First question: Is Theresa May right on immigration?

Farron says what causes damage is Theresa May stoking up division for cheap applause at Tory Conference.

Farron says that as many people from Britain go to live in EU as come here from other parts of the EU. Immigration a blessing not a curse and we should value it.

I hope he’s grateful:

Man complaining about lack of integration of communities. That melting pot doesn’t seem to have done the US any harm.

Good job, that woman in red, talking about leading by example and not getting into the blaming groups of people rhetoric.

More sensible stuff from Tim:

Now question on tax credit cuts:

Someone needs their eyes testing:

Heavens, even Melanie Phillips won’t defend the tax credit cut.

Farron: Living wage is not a living wage. It’s a smokescreen to make people feel better about what the Conservatives are doing. To govern is to choose – it chooses to cut tax credits for people on low incomes yet give massive inheritance tax cuts to millionaires. Those are wrong choices – it is morally wrong and economically stupid. It will stop people choosing to work.

Farron talks about a living wage of around £12 an hour with help for small businesses to pay it as a win/win policy.

And not the last, I suspect.

Question 3: Is it time to do the unthinkable and side with Assad and Putin to defeat ISIS?

Even if one of them is Melanie Phillips and one’s a Tory, it’s kind of nice to see a panel with a majority of women on it.

Farron: the big fear here is the “something must be done” strategy. End result must be on the humanitarian side. We must talk with people who don’t share our values and Britain must take the lead diplomatically.

Last question: Is Jeremy Corbyn a Britain hater?

Priti Patel says he hasn’t shown patriotic tendencies – definite plus point in my view.

Lisa Nandy just sends another load of abuse towards the Tories. She would have been better to actually tackle the accusations head on and challenge the assumptions behind them, gently and carefully.

Farron: Cameron is being un-British in his comments about Corbyn. Let’s take him on on the issues (like the EU referendum) not denigrate the man. Good, sensible stuff.

And that’s it.

What did you make of it?

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

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Fun fact: I threw QT on the TV tonight, Farron got the first comment in and my sister immediately commented that she really liked his accent.

    Twenty more appearances like this, please!

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Oct '15 - 11:43pm

    Lovely comment from Gareth Epps (not).

    Tim was better than some of his other performances on QT, but I don’t know what he is talking about when he bangs on about diplomacy when it comes to ISIS. Diplomacy is no use with ISIS, they will only listen to bombs.

    When Britain faces a direct threat why on earth should we outsource our national security to the United Nations and Putin’s veto?

  • Well done ,Tim. Apart from him – and to an extent Hosie – what a tedious panel. Time for Dimbleby to pack it in – here’s a vote for Eddie Mair to take over.

  • @ Eddie Sammon,

    The approach I thought Tim was suggesting was working to solve the issue utilising diplomacy, as we know it’s ultimately the only approach which can work. We can’t just follow up foreign bombs with ones on our own, especially when Syria’s now at the centre of a far larger international political situation. And ultimately there’s only a limited amount the UK can do.

    We’ve seen violence begetting violence before – it’s the cheap and easy way to get something ‘done’. But unless you really know what your definition of done is, all you do is create messes like Afghanistan and Iraq, which still face challenging environments post-occupation. We can never really know right now what form the post-conflict Syria will take, but we do know that that post-conflict Syria will emerge from negotiating tables, not the barrel of a gun.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Oct '15 - 2:01am

    Thanks Joe. Just had a very interesting exchange with a Brookings director and former Senior Adviser for Counterterrorism in the US department of State. He’s a bit more dovish than me on ISIS, so probably more in line with Lib Dem thinking, but he still believes that “coalition airstrikes” are part of the solution. He recognises that political will is a factor.

    He thinks ISIS will be defeated when the country’s in the region have it at the top of their priorities. He thinks only Jordan have it as a number one priority at the moment. He also thinks it is important that the Iraqi government compromise with their Sunni population, as I do, but I still think the leaders of ISIL should be pursued relentlessly.

  • How about the Government does something about a problem it can control rather than one it cannot. Pollution from VW will kill more in the UK than ISIS will. UK government lobbied for weaker regulations in the past. Where are the prosecutions and fines? VW would recall and fix all the affected UK cars in under 3 months if it was banned from selling new cars until 95% of affected cars had had their software updated.

  • Very good from Tim, apart from his comment about raising the minimum wage up to £12ph. I’ve no idea where that figure came from, but suffice to say that many SMEs will be forced to shed staff and potentially close if this happened. The OBR are already estimating that 60,000 jobs will be lost due to Osborne’s ‘National Living Wage’. I’m very worried about this becoming a politicised bidding war that puts more and more jobs at risk.

    I support having a minimum wage. The system we’ve had for 18 years has worked well, as it means the Low Pay Commission carrying out meticulous analysis of the labour market to ensure the minimum wage it recommends will have a minimal impact on jobs. As a party that has always believed in evidence-led policy I hope we will stick with the structure of having experts setting the figure. I do think we were correct in the 1990s and that local minimum wages based on local labour market conditions. More expensive areas with a higher cost of living also tend to be the areas with more job vacancies, suggesting a higher minimum wage would be appropriate. But there are also places where job creation is low but the cost of living, particularly housing, isn’t that high – I’m very concerned that businesses will simply close down in these areas if such a £12ph minimum wage was imposed.

  • Neil Sandison 9th Oct '15 - 8:57am

    Tim did well .On Syria diplomacy is needed at this time to defuse this tinderbox. The last thing GB should do is send in bombers, concentrate on Iraq .

  • Duncan Stott 9th Oct ’15 – 8:02am…..

    A bit confusing????? You believe in a ‘minimum wage’ but not in a minimum wage that someone can live on? When Labour proposed the minimum wage we had exactly that same argument from Tory/Business, “It will cost jobs”…

    What is YOUR answer to those who only survive because their wages are ‘topped up’ and that ‘topping up’ is being removed; food banks, perhaps?….
    On QT, even Priti Patel (whom I regard as one of the most despicable members of a despicable party) had to go into ‘auto-pilot mode to avoid answering the question…..

  • While we are all talking about how awful ISIS is and the need for diplomacy, the Russians are sending troops in to “flatten” ISIS. Don’t mess with the Russians!


  • @expats isn’t the problem that a “National Minimum Wage” is a nonsense? £8/hour might enable you to live quite comfortably in Sunderland, but would be impossible to live on in Reading.

  • Sarah Olney 9th Oct '15 - 9:57am

    “he could do with slowing down his delivery a bit” – and keeping his hands still! He was waving them around in front of his face while making the point about Corbyn and it really impeded his delivery.

    Interesting that both Labour and Conservative fielded a prominent female from a BAME background. Interesting too that their opinions were both pitch perfect stereotypes of their respective parties. Patel was patronising, sneery and narrow mindedly obsessed with the economic value of her party’s policy and blind to its social impact. Nandy managed to say “I find that completely offensive” twice while delivering an emotional, impassioned defence of the poorest. I think that Nandy got the better of the exchange – despite (because?) speaking for probably half the time that Patel did. I’ve suddenly been seeing her name in the press a bit recently – touted as a future Labour leader – and I’m not surprised. She was impressive. Patel was very poor.

    But if we fared badly in having no choice but to field a white man, at least Tim was able to articulate a position on each question that was distinctively different from what both women were saying. I hope a neutral observer would conclude that Labour and Conservative might have new, modern faces but were essentially the same old, same old. And that the Lib Dems had something different to offer.

    Philips was uncharacteristically quiet – until the Corbyn question, where she showed her true colours – and never really landed a blow. I was surprised (almost pleased) to hear her criticism of the tax credit policy.

  • @Sara Olney “and keeping his hands still! He was waving them around in front of his face while making the point about Corbyn and it really impeded his delivery. ”

    http://www.lookyou.co.uk/Everett.11.1.jpg 😉

  • David Allen 9th Oct '15 - 10:43am

    First-rate performance from Tim! (Will you let me off with a bit of unalloyed sycophancy, please? It’s not my normal style…)

    On Russia, let’s remember that whenever you begin a disastrous war, for example by toppling Saddam’s statue or catching Gaddafi, there is a brief month or two when you foreign invaders look like masters of the universe. Then it all goes pear-shaped, and you don’t look quite so damn smart. Putin, you fool, you just wait….

    On the point about waving your hands wildly and generally looking rather French – Well, that’s how I act at scientific conferences, and it works a treat, because it wakes up the audience and gets their attention. However, it does also tend to give me an (unjustified!) reputation for being better at imagination than judgment. I would suggest to Tim that he should vary it a bit. When it isn’t necessary to convey a complex piece of argumentation, and it is necessary to be clear where you stand, then slow right down, put on solemn face, use portentous words, and show you can do magisterial when it is needed.

  • Jayne Mansfield and expats, both of you have very fair concerns. However my answer is that we need to accept that the welfare system will increasingly be needed to top up low pay. That’s why we are absolutely right to oppose the Tories’ tax credit cuts. Evidence from the Resolution Foundation has shown that the vast majority of tax credits aren’t subsidising employers but genuinely going to workers.

    By insisting that jobs must pay enough to live off without needing welfare, the danger is that there simply won’t be enough of these jobs, therefore we end up with an even worse problem of people unable to find any work at all, causing a downward spiral where employers vanish, people have no earnings to spend, lowering demand and creating an even tougher environment for businesses.

    The purpose of the minimum wage is to stop employers getting away with paying unnecessarily low wages, but that doesn’t mean all employers can afford to pay enough for their workers to live off. The reality is that British workers are increasingly under threat from globalisation (competition from Chinese workers) and automation (competition from computers and robots). We can’t wish these phenomena away – we need economic policies that deal these realities. Pushing the minimum wage up too high will just increase these threats.

    The long term direction of what I suggest would be to move towards a Citizens’ Basic Income where every citizen is automatically handed enough welfare cash to just about scrape by on, and keep that money regardless of how much you earn. It would need to be carefully looked at how it could be funded and how it would interact with the overall economy (e.g. avoid landlords taking it all through increased rents). But we need to stop stigmatising welfare.

  • Ruth Bright 9th Oct '15 - 12:16pm

    He did a grand job.

    Surprised that twitter thinks Tim looks like Windy Miller. My family thinks he looks more like Chippy Minton. (Sorry that will be incomprehensible to anyone much under 50!)

  • The minimum wage has only been increased by the amount recommended by the experts at the Low Pay Commission, so job losses have been avoided. What Osborne has done with his “National Living Wage” is ignore the experts and gone with a higher figure. What Corbyn and now Farron has done is try and outbid this with higher and higher numbers. We need to hear from the Low Pay Commission about what scale of job losses this will cause.

  • Sarah Olney 9th Oct '15 - 12:57pm

    Don’t want to make a massive issue of the hands thing. Just to say that I think it’s fine when you’re on stage by yourself to make whatever expansive gestures you like. But if you’re seated behind a desk with people either side of you, it’s better practice to keep them under control.

    Duncan Stott – the Living Wage was a term used by the Living Wage Foundation who calculated it based on what people actually needed to earn to have a basic standard of living and lobbied companies to pay staff at this level rather than the NMW. Osborne basically stole the term for its brand value, despite the fact that the amount he proposes is not as high as the amount that the Living Wage Foundation has put forward.

    Agree that the impact of imposing a higher minimum wage cannot be foreseen in terms of job cuts. To be fair to Farron, he proposes supporting businesses to help them pay the wage, so he at least recognises that this would be an issue.

  • Duncan, I’m with Jayne M. on this one….

    We already have a situation where people do not earn enough without government ‘top-ups’ (I’m adverse to using the word ‘welfare’ because this how the Tories, aided by our leadership, started the divide of ”Strivers and Skivers”; now it appears that the line has become so blurred that it’s possible to be both)…

    The wealthiest member of the cabinet has stated that the low paid must be made to work like the Chinese/Americans (I’m not sure if he means those Chinese brought from to work, in near slave conditions, building the American railroads)…

    Does he not see that, if better pay was available, they would already be doing it…Strange how, in the Tory mind, bonuses/high salaries are incentives to the upper reaches, but censure and wage cuts must be used at the bottom….

    As for stigmatising welfare…That is the current Tory’s ‘raison d’etre’

    BTW…As an aside does anyone else feel that the ‘anti-Corbyn’ diatribe from the last speaker, an innocent looking young female Tory, was rather staged?

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th Oct '15 - 1:09pm

    I also thought it was a very good performance from Tim.

    Regarding the point about his hands, that is just what he does when he speaks. It doesn’t seem to put off his constituents nor the majority of Liberal Democrats. The electorate appear to warm to natural people with natural non-controlled idiosyncrasies. Conformity anyone?

    If people want hollow coached politicians, they will probably be voting for Cameron and Osborne anyway. New Labour did that one to death.

    If we are to claw our way back to electoral success and relevance, it is likely to be achieved through passion, commitment and our value-based policies rather than posturing and performance.

    With reference to Duncan Stott’s comment about a higher national minimum/living wage, I thought I heard Tim to immediately follow his £12 statement with a comment along the lines that we would also have to support workers and small businesses via tax credits so as not to impact on employment.

  • I felt Tim did great, it seems to be clear that the Lib Dems will be offering a genuine alternative to Labour and the Conservatives over the next few years.

    With regards to the minimum wage increase, I do think that £12 sounds too high, but I can’t say I’m totally against it. I know it’s from the American government but I thought this page was quite interesting:


  • expats, I don’t see anything you just wrote as in conflict with anything I wrote. We should be opposing the government taking away people’s top-ups.

    Stephen, it isn’t yet clear what Farron is suggesting but I don’t see why government giving tax credits to business so that they pay a higher minimum wage would be better than simply giving workers tax credits. It would be incredibly convoluted and complex.

    Bigger picture: we need a liberal vision for the economy, a liberal critique of the current economy and a coherent set of policy reforms to delivery change.

  • Brenda sherratt 9th Oct '15 - 4:22pm

    I used to watch question night and enjoyed it ,but David Dimbleby seems so biased nowadays .He is forever butting in and challenging the Tories and not anyone else,I thought the QT was for the audience to ask the questions,and the presenter to remain neutral!

  • David Allen 9th Oct '15 - 5:03pm

    “BTW…As an aside does anyone else feel that the ‘anti-Corbyn’ diatribe from the last speaker, an innocent looking young female Tory, was rather staged?”

    Yes, absolutely!

    Mr Crosby’s opportunity: Some rather rough people have said some rather rude things about the Tories.

    Mr Crosby’s problem: Many Tories, if complaining about cries of “Vermin”, might provoke the feeling “Sounds like fair comment!” in many listeners.

    Mr Crosby’s solution: Find a young female Tory (there must be a few, if you look hard for them). Put them on QT. Coach them carefully to make a “spontaneous” piece of audience participation, and make sure they look bright, innocent and vulnerable. Then, all those dupes watching will think “What a shame! Labour really are a nasty lot….”

    When do the Tories play tricks and tell fibs? It’s when they open their mouths!

  • “Immigration a blessing not a curse and we should value it.”

    Though he also said immigration should be restricted – which suggests to me that he thinks too much immigration might not be a good thing. Restricted in what way and by how much, he didn’t say.

  • David Allen 9th Oct '15 - 5:21pm

    Duncan, I think Farron was proposing giving tax credits only to small businesses. Big business, which can afford it, would be expected to pay the higher living wage themselves. So Government would spend a lot less on tax credits, but jobs would in principle still be protected. (As long as we could stop evey little McDonals from declaring itself a small business so as to get the subsidy, that is!)

    We do need to get the professionals to work this through, though. Up till now, those who have argued that a rising minimum wage will cause unemployment have been shown to be largely scaremongering. However, at some point, if the minimum rises too high, then the problem will become a real one. £12ph does look rather high….

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