Tim Farron responds to the election of Donald Trump

Commenting on the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States of America, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said:

Liberal values of moderation, freedom, respect for the rule of law, openness and concern for one another can no longer be taken for granted. In the United States last night, those values were defeated.

But those values are vital if we are to live together in peace, prosperity and freedom.

Those of us who care passionately for those liberal values need to fight for them, to win the arguments, to inspire new generations to the great and historic cause of liberalism. Never in my lifetime have those liberal values been so under threat, and never have they been more relevant and necessary.

There is nothing inevitable about the rise of nationalism, protectionism and division, Justin Trudeau proves that. I am determined that together, we must make it our mission to build that liberal cause. The alternatives are unthinkable.

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 9th Nov '16 - 11:46am

    Now more than ever we need the moderation our party leader Tim Farron speaks of .All things in moderation , including moderation itself , is a favourite saying . Saying it and doing it are not the same thing . By his election today , Trump , already trumps his rhetoric, from his horribly divisive campaign, with warm words for Hillary Clinton, meaningless , as he only weeks ago threatened to put her in jail .The values that Tim speaks of , Tim lives by , as do any of us here who share them at any level. Trump does not .We must be vigilant .

  • Richard Underhill 9th Nov '16 - 12:16pm

    “we must make it our mission to build that liberal cause” YES.
    ” The alternatives are unthinkable” Unthinkable is not exactly the ideal word.
    We do need to think about horrible things in order to try to prevent them, including extremely horrible things such as mutually assured destruction and the holocaust.

  • Keith Sharp 9th Nov '16 - 12:32pm

    In our response to this devastating year – EU referendum lost and Trump elected – we need to understand what is driving the forces of narrow nationalism and the illiberalism, fear and intolerance inherent to it.

    There is a key, driving set of facts we must take account of:

    1) the lower paid half of working Britain has seen no rise in living standards since the early 2000’s;

    2) the same has been true in the US since the 1970’s.

    (Both stats are via the Resolution Foundation).

    3) according to Tim Montgomerie, (the Resolution Foundation on September 22 last), 47% of Americans would have to borrow, go into debt, if they urgently needed $400 cash.

    This, more than anything else, explains why so many people, drawn heavily from the elderly white male lower paid, have turned to UKIP, to leaving the EU and, now in the States, Trump. They are the losers economically from open border and globalization; they have no stake in the modern economy or in a political system which effectively disenfranchises them. They see and hear about the good life, while existing on the economic edge. You can understand people for voting for something, anything, which seems to offer something different to what has failed them. The tragedy and irony is that the solution they have voted for will almost certainly make things even worse for them; but it is not enough for us to allocate blame.

    We have to assess how, if at all, our beliefs, values and policies can mean something in the future to the debt-dependent disenfranchised. I wish I could offer some neat answers, but if we at least fix on the core of what lies behind the appeal of Farage and Trump, we can start to devise a way forward which really is inclusive.

  • We need to create an economic plan to bring those on the economic fringes back into the fold and deliver that to the electorate.

    We know that it’s a problem in Britain that many are left behind: what are we going to do about, when, how much will it cost and what will need to be done to support it? Let’s answer those questions. It’s an urgent political issue that we need to address.

  • Corbyn’s statement was far more reasoned…..He finished, “Some of Trump’s answers to the issue of economic instability, and the rhetoric he used, were “clearly wrong”, the Labour leader said. “I have no doubt, however, that the decency and common sense of the American people will prevail, and we send our solidarity to a nation of migrants, innovators and democrats. After this latest global wakeup call, the need for a real alternative to a failed economic and political system could not be clearer.”
    “That alternative must be based on working together, social justice and economic renewal, rather than sowing fear and division. And the solutions we offer have to improve the lives of everyone, not pit one group of people against another.”
    “Americans have made their choice. The urgent necessity is now for us all to work across continents to tackle our common global challenges: to secure peace, take action on climate change and deliver economic prosperity and justice.”

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Nov '16 - 1:46pm

    My model is that people vote according to perceived self-interest. We need a bit less lecturing on morals and more pointing out why certain policies are in the interests of the whole country. As an example: welfare needs to be marketed like an insurance policy.

    Changes in marketing won’t be enough though, some policies will have to change – not just because Trump won, but because the Lib Dems are struggling and now the writing is more clearly on the wall.

  • Denis Loretto 9th Nov '16 - 2:03pm

    It is inevitable that we express our disappointment at what has happened and remind people of the liberal standards for which we will continue to fight. We must then recognise that Donald Trump has democratically won the presidency (including leadership of the free world!) and decide how to address that.

    His acceptance speech was conciliatory but words are easy. Actions are difficult.
    Is there any real chance of Trump and his team toning down some of the wild pledges he made during the campaign? If he was in a weak position he probably would feel obliged to do all that he has said. However he is in a supremely strong position – elected with no debts to anyone including his own party much of which spurned him and will now have to behave submissively towards him. They are unlikely to use their position in Congress to criticise or work against him. If therefore he was to steer away from some of his campaign promises who will punish him for it? He can tell them to get lost. At 70 years of age he may not even seek a second term.

    I think we are now completely dependent on him, with hopefully some good advice, deciding to move towards acting like a leader of the free world needs to act.

  • John Littler 9th Nov '16 - 2:17pm

    America and Britain are both split right down the middle and both are now undergoing a creeping neofascism.

    We should stand together with all the parties of the centre left to shame this evil creed and convince people that it will only lead to division, conflicts and worse outcomes, creating a world that no one will want to live in.

    Yet again, First Past the Post voting has handed out sole power on a minority vote. Even in majoritarian terms Clinton won narrowly, by about 0.7% with two small parties winning 5%, yet Trump on 40 odd percent leapfrogs Clinton to win the whole prize and as usual, FPTP favours the right wing candidates.

    The only way we are going to beat this in the short to medium term, will be joint candidates on a “Reform” or “Progressive Alliance” type ticket, which might just create interest that forms more than the sum of the parts.

  • Wanting to feel safe, secure, comfortable;
    Having shelter, a home that will be there tomorrow and the day after;
    Not feeling inadequate because you can’t afford what television tells you others have;
    Watching as your job is taken away from you and moved overseas;
    Hearing politicians say the same old stuff;
    Having to change your way of life to fit in with newcomers;
    Seeing immigrants paid less to do the job you have just lost.

    There is so much that could be written and much of it will have resonance. The truth is that politics as we knew it, is broken, completely and utterly. Politicians, unless they are seen to be breaking the mould, are no longer seen as part of the solution.
    Since the 2008 crash, when elites and bankers, politicians and businessmen were seen to have prospered and ordinary folk to have lost out, this mood across much of the world has gained momentum – no, not that momentum! There is an urgent need to understand it and really listen to what is being said.
    Perhaps too, there is a need for a little introspection, to comprehend not just what is happening, but how politics and political parties are really perceived by the mass of the population.

  • Tony Dawson 9th Nov '16 - 2:37pm

    I think Tim’s statement is OK as far as it goes. It fails, however, to go far enough ie to the root of the problem. Bemoaning the result is, sadly, not enough. We must not only be ‘tough on Trump’s grime, we must be tough on the causes of the grime.”

    The issues relating to the ‘relative unpopularity contest’ between Trump and Clinton which decided this election should not be ignored. In many ways, the extent of the veracity of the various questions /criticisms of Hilary Clinton was not the real issue. A very large number of people believed that people in Hilary Clinton’s position in the USA DO lie, DO put their own class interests over those of the ordinary people and DO use the media, the institutions of the states and the courts to get away with serious things even when they get found out (which people think only happens a very small part of the time).

  • The hour demands politicians who will speak out in defence of our values here and across the Atlantic, and thank you Tim for doing so. All of us must try to do so in circumstances where some have a sense of licence to respond with coarse language and personal abuse – I have never known it like this, and Brexit opened the door to it here. Good manners now is mocked and equated with political correctness.

    The low point for me has been the attack on the judiciary over the use of the royal prerogative to invoke Article 50, and the inadequate or timely defence of our judges by the Government. It made me so sick I could barely look at the news. The judges were addressing a constitutional principle that has endured for several hundred years and concerned with controlling the power of the Executive; or in plainer terms, defending my liberty. It would be laughable if it was not so depressing that people who claim to be patriotic about this country have so little knowledge or attachment to its history or traditions. The Supreme Court may come to a different view to the High Court but they won’t do so because Nigel Farage has mobilised a crowd outside but because their genuinely independent interpretation of the law is different.

    The arrival of President Trump should make us even more anxious about Brexit too – trying to find our new trading partners and maintain our security in a world where the US is retreating into protectionism and isolation makes me feel an even chiller wind.

    Oh what an appalling mess.

  • Sue Sutherland 9th Nov '16 - 2:53pm

    Flo I agree so much with your list of reasons of why people voted the way they did both in America and in the Referendum, but I don’t think politics has totally failed. After all it has enabled them to express their anger through the ballot box and ( mostly) not through violence.
    As a political party we must respond to that anger, an anger which I think Tim Farron understands very well. The 2008 crash has made the effects of economic policies adopted in the USA, Europe, the UK since Reaganism/Thatcherism much worse. It also revealed the ignorance of “experts” and their inability to see problems on the horizon. Even the Queen asked why no one saw the crash coming.
    It is essential that we as a party develop an alternative economics which works to include those who are faced with all the problems you list. In America they first tried a black Democrat but that didn’t work so now they’ve gone for the same kind of solution our Referendum threw up, total change and faith in those members of an economic elite who say they will look after the ordinary voter. What we must be working for is a real solution to their problems because when they realise democratic change has also failed them where do they turn? I’m very much afraid things may turn very nasty indeed.

  • Laurence Cox 9th Nov '16 - 3:49pm

    If we are to improve social cohesion through reducing inequality, that means that we have to make the tax system more progressive to raise the funds needed. Since the 1980s when the neoliberal consensus began with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, governments have consistently lowered taxes, particularly taxes on the better-off, on the assumption that lower tax rates would boost economic growth and so bring trickle-down benefits and more revenue for the Government. It is time to question if the resulting increase in inequality outweighs any gain in revenue and whether this process should be put into reverse.

    While John McDonnell is using tax rises as value signalling for his supporters, we should be making the case for tax rises to improve social cohesion. Partly, this improvement will come from funding areas like the NHS and education better and partly from redistribution from higher to lower income earners.

    As I have commented elsewhere, a £ in your pocket buys exactly the same whether you earned it by working, or whether it came as dividends on shares or interest on savings, or whether you made a capital gain by buying something and selling it later. Yet the three sources of that £ are taxed quite differently, and indeed the options available to those with large amounts of disposable income are taxed less heavily than the only option available to those with little disposable income. So why are we not advocating tax equalisation on the grounds of fairness?

  • Joseph Bourke 9th Nov '16 - 6:08pm

    Agree with Roger Billins on the need to be bold and radical in responding to a fast changing economic and political environment.

    In the election 110 years ago, the Conservatives wanted tariff reform to pay down the debt increase of 25% following the Boer war and put barriers up against German and American exports to the British empire.

    The idea was to slap a tax on all foreign imports of food from within the empire to try and protect home produced goods from competition, as it made the imports more expensive.

    Ordinary working men just wanted cheaper food prices as food was already becoming unaffordable. The Liberal campaign supported free trade and used the slogan “Big Loaf, Little Loaf” to get across the message that families would get more for their money with free trade, but vote for the conservative and you’ll have to pay more for your bread with tariff reform.

  • Conor McGovern 9th Nov '16 - 7:02pm

    I found Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the election much more perceptive and nuanced. Trump is definitely not the answer (if only Sanders had been his rival) but Clinton represented the status quo and we need radical change, not least in the States.

    I’m hoping the Democrats get their reforming zeal back in time for 2020, as this was really a vote in desperation against inequality and globalisation from people with little left to lose. Of course some were diehard xenophobes and racists but – as here with Brexit – most can’t just be tarred like that.

    Until we find our reforming zeal and get back in touch with disaffected voters beyond the middle-class mainstream we Liberals won’t be given the chance to change much here in Britain.

  • Conor McGovern 9th Nov '16 - 7:40pm

    Roger Billins is right on the money.

  • Lorenzo Cherinl 9th Nov '16 - 8:39pm

    Talk of Corbyn’s words and scrapping the honours system and the Lords , for everyone’s sake enough of the knee – jerk stuff, I preferrerd Hillary to many alternatives and her words impress me more , and her actions , than Corbyn , as a potential leader , and some of Britain and this party’s greatest and most humane have been and are knights and Lords !

    If you want a leftist party messing around with nonsense removed from the real issues form a fantasists party or join one of the many far left socialist ones ! This is a Liberal Democrat party , evidence can have emotion too, but coming together is not the same thing as clutching at straws. Now it’s let’s abolish income tax ?! I despair ?!

  • Neil Sandison 9th Nov '16 - 10:29pm

    I think we need to be a radical in our liberal and social reforms and take a leaf out of David Lloyd Georges book .What he did for pensions ,welfare ,public health we should do for for modern day affordable housing ,skills training ,health and social care .We need to re equip our infrastructure to meet the demands of a global economy whilst promoting a new co-operative enterprise economy for local economies .more support for regional air and rail hubs rather than London centric solutions and yes give local councils back their powers to get on with the job of regenerating there communities and meeting local needs within diverse and enpowered local communities.

  • Sue,

    you said

    Reaganism/Thatcherism much worse. It also revealed the ignorance of “experts” and their inability to see problems on the horizon. Even the Queen asked why no one saw the crash coming.

    the answer to that is people did, you can still find on fringe websites warnings issued well before the crash, but these were dismissed as from the tin foil community (didn’t help that some probably did model tin foil clothing), as to the experts as Upton Sinclair pointed out

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

  • I think we are upon the cusp of radical change; hopefully those of liberal bent will be able to channel the forces constructively, but if they fail or even worse don’t attempt too because people are rough and uncouth and just not civilised like us (I except myself, no one has ever called me civilised) then change will still occur and we won’t like the outcome.

  • David Garlick 10th Nov '16 - 12:28pm

    I will start to believe in Justin T. when he calls a halt to the devastation of the Canadian Boreal Forest in Alberta. He must withdraw the licences to exploit the Tar Oil sands in the region which is resulting in massive pollution of the environment both at the open cast mines and waste ‘water’ pits/ That’s on top of the damage from burning the stuff or the damage to the water supplies to the area. Most of all he needs to stop the denial of the authorities that Tar Oil exploitation is putting directly at risk the lives of the indigenous populations.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Nov '16 - 1:19pm

    David Garlick

    You do a good job of pointing out that monsieur Trudeau is a very flawed Liberal , as Hillary is , but in a way I find more bothersome .

    Hillary Clinton very strongly favours legal abortion as do I, though I believe the weeks it is allowed need significant reduction, I favour eighteen or twenty weeks. But she is happy for the issue to remain one of conscience.French socialists are happy to keep their law at twelve weeks ! But Trudeau has stopped any potential candidate from even standing for the Canadian Liberal Party , who does not support the current , unique , Canadian law of no limits ! On that alone he is not a Liberal but a socialistic illiberal authoritarian ! A shame , as on most issues he is a liberal .

  • Joyce Onstad 10th Nov '16 - 5:11pm

    I think what we have seen in Trumpism and Brexit is a global phenomenon. It is found anywhere where there is gross inequality. Globalisation and technological innovation has led to dramatic change and to a world of immense economic opportunities, but also to sharp inequalities within countries. The elites in every society have been able to take advantage of opportunities while others have seen their livelihoods diminish as jobs and capital move more freely around the world. Ironically, this change has at the same time led to a reduction of inequalities between the so called “First World” and the “Developing World”, something that is to be welcomed. The elites of London, New York, Nairobi, Mumbai and Buenos Aires have all been winners in this game. Governments have ignored at their peril those increasing band of left-behinds who have felt disconnected from the affluent world that they glimpse on social media. It is no wonder that they are making their voices heard and getting even by choosing radical extreme outsiders such as Trump. They are making it clear to the elite that they intend to “Brexit “ from the status quo.
    Tim cites Justin Trudeau as an example, but we must not forget that Canada is one of the most equal and inclusive countries in the world. We need to focus on the value of inclusion and find ways to distribute the benefits of the current world order more evenly.

  • Stevan Rose 10th Nov '16 - 8:46pm

    It’s far too early to judge whether Trump said outrageous things in the campaign to secure the votes he needed to win or because he actually believes them. Obama seems positive and optimistic after their meeting today. I trust Obama’s judgement here. Wait for his nominations.

  • Joyce Onstad
    Your comment very accurately describes the ‘big picture’, of where we are right now, globally. Where I have less faith than you, is in your final paragraph, whereby you say that,…:

    “We need to focus on the value of inclusion and find ways to distribute the benefits of the current world order more evenly.”

    If only…..

    Human nature is very much O.K.,.. with ‘liberalism’, sharing,..and the common good, when we’re in a period of globally expanding economic pie. But we’re far less interested in the common good and liberalism, when if [heaven forbid!], it means each of us having to give up some of our hard-won, individual share, in a period of shrinking global economic pie.?

    If we humans, were so naturally agreeable to liberalism,.. we’d do it in the bad times as enthusiastically as we are willing to do in the good times.? But sadly, we don’t. Liberalism is like the proverbial ‘good time’ girl. She appears when the global ‘punch bowl’ is full and brimming, and conversely, both she and her ‘bonne amie’, disappears when the [global GDP], money disappears.?

    In this shrinking pie, no growth world,..the ‘gal’ called liberalism, is packing her bags.

  • Simon Banks 14th Nov '16 - 4:33pm


    Your model of why people vote this way or that is both too materialistic and too rational. I’ve met many UKIP voters and none of them alleged their own personal interests had been damaged by immigrants, the EU or anything else UKIP is against. Indeed, many of them in Clacton are quite well-off retired people with nice houses, gardens and cars, and perfectly capable of contacting a councillor or whatever. They fear what their world is becoming. Some of that is racism and some is information overload. Their equivalents in the 1930s, say, would have been told little about what was happening in foreign lands except those in the Empire. The world actually is a more confusing and fast-changing place than it was, but also, people get far more often disturbing information about it. Some racists do believe their jobs are being lost to immigrants, but many just don’t like diversity.

    As for how we should be pitching our appeal, we got 8% at the last election. If we can get 20% next time, that will be a big improvement; and that certainly can be primarily based on values, though I agree that pointing out useful facts about material advantage can help a good deal.

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Nov '16 - 5:01pm

    Hi Simon Banks, by “perceived self-interest” I also mean mental wellbeing, not mainly just materialism. The term can become so wide as to be meaningless when I put it like that, but I think in general that is how people vote.

  • I didn’t know that about Trudeau’s stance on abortion, Lorenzo. I admire him more now than I did before. He is a better Liberal and liberal than I thought.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Nov '16 - 8:35pm

    Jen ,
    your statement makes no sense , defend that which you may , but do not appropriate Liberalism or liberalism to do so when to ban a point of view based on , say conscience , religious conviction or moral ,stance , is illiberal , just as I feel late term abortion with no health grounds , is infanticide , often , gendercide , sometimes, and always imoral !

  • Richard Underhill 6th Jan '19 - 12:38pm

    Supposing that Hillary Clinton would win the same states that were won by Barrack Obama was intellectual laziness, and many people who consider themselves expert are guilty. Obama had talked about “people who look like me”, which she does not.
    US women interviewed said they wanted to vote for a woman “but not this woman” who has a complicated history.
    In her autobiography she glories in her youthful support for Presidential candidate Senator Goldwater (AU-H2O). There are other issues.
    Step forward the Senior Senator for Massachusetts, who spoke with such clarity on the main issues at the 2016 party conference, thereby upstaging the candidate.
    There are about 70 possible candidates so far, including the former Vice-President,
    so the question is likely to be, who can beat Trump in 2020?
    I would support Senator Warren.

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