Tim Farron withdraws from event after seeing promotional material which attacks the “gay lobby” and talks about problems with Islam and immigration

Tim Farron has withdrawn from an event he was speaking at on Saturday after someone posted promotional material for it on Twitter.

The blurb for the “Men Standing Alone” event to be held in Manchester says as follows:

The leadership from those in authority in the denominations who should be the guardians of biblical truth has been muted to say the least and even in Bible teaching churches many appear to be wavering under the onslaught of the gay lobby. Add to this scenario the increasing problems associated with immigration, and Islam in particular and indeed many other things which push Christians further and further to the margins, there is for many a feeling of despair and even fear about standing up and speaking out.

In a tweet, Tim said that he had only just been made aware of this aspect of the event:

Tim has form for not doing due diligence on stuff. In 2012, he apologised for signing a letter to the Advertising Standards Association criticising them for banning ads which talked about the healing power of prayer. He wrote an article for this site at this time explaining his position.

I completely understand why some of you are concerned. It’s not a well-worded letter – the reference to the ASA providing indisputable evidence is silly, and the implication that people should seek faith healing at the expense of medical intervention is something that I just don’t believe in. For what it’s worth, I also think that the Fabrice Muamba reference is crass. So on all those fronts, I should just say sorry and not bother defending myself. I shouldn’t have signed that letter as it was written, so I apologise for putting some of you in quite a difficult position.

It is to be hoped that in the future he will be very carefully scrutinising such invitations. Thankfully Twitter has saved him from turning up at an event which is so obviously in conflict with liberal values. That would have been personally embarrassing from him and damaging for the party.

LGBT+ Lib Dems want more from him, though:

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

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28 Comments

  • “Thankfully Twitter has saved him from turning up at an event which is so obviously in conflict with liberal values.”

    Quite. If only Mr Farron had a staff who could research events before he agreed to speak at them, to help him avoid yet another incident in which he accidentally appears alongside homophobic people?

  • This is why Tim’s views on homosexuality, religious discrimination etc. are so, so toxic. We can argue (and have argued, many times) about where he has/hasn’t crossed the line.

    But having a high-profile MP associated in any way with such unequivocally vile groups is indefensible. Merely having that association brings them more publicity, and serves to legitimise their bigotry – and despite belatedly
    doing the right thing, Tim has (inadvertently, I really hope) contributed to that.

    Agreeing to be there was at best a colossal oversight bordering on gross incompetence. But as noted in this article, it’s not the first time this has happened. It’s getting to the stage now where I dread any headline with Farron’s name in it. He really is a liability, and sadly I believe having him as an MP is hurting our cause.

    Tim needs to be open and frank about everything he knew when initially agreeing to this event. If necessary, a transparent investigation should follow – if this isn’t bringing the party into disrepute, what is?

  • While I think Tim is right to withdraw from this event, I think as Lib Dems we need to be careful that we do not over attack minorities such as “orthodox” (literalist, traditional – pick your epithet) Christians. Just as the Tories were wrong to attack LGBT people through section 28 etc. whose viewpoint they viewed as “toxic” if you like (to re-use a phrase).

    Saying that Tim has “form” on this citing his letter to ASA is a little snide – perhaps a wrongly worded by busy MP and office. In my view the “claims” made by many brands while they may be within the regulations and law are far, far worse.

  • He’s not helping himself (or the party as a whole) is he?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 10th May '18 - 7:17pm

    Just a bit of context to those of you who put this all down to incompetence and in particular blame staff. MPs receive hundreds of invitations every week. I suspect that what came in was an email asking him to speak on the sorts of things he’s been talking about – Christianity being counter-cultural etc – without any of the surrounding publicity.

    The small team that an MP has doesn’t tend to Google every event, they don’t necessarily even know who the other speakers are. They almost certainly don’t get to see the promotional material for it.

    Now, nobody can seriously think that he would want to be associated with such an event when he has such a strong record of being positive about immigration for a start. Even those of us who are most furious with him on this would have to give him that.

    I very strongly suspect that Tim will be a lot more careful about the invitations he accepts in future. He has made a big mistake, and when he’s realised it he has done the right thing and withdrawn.

  • @Dave Page

    True Orthodox/evangelical Christians should be – and often have been (actually including Tim) – at the forefront of supporting those who society have (wrongly) not valued – the poor, refugees, immigrants, LGBT+ people, people who are “different” etc. among whom they may count themselves.

    Although I am not a practising Christian a key tenet of the faith and one I find attractive is to ‘love’ your neighbour. And Christ when asked who is “my neighbour” told the parable of the Good Samaritan. The point being that it was the Samaritan (and Samaritans were despised by Jews) who helped the man left for dead and not the Priest or the Levite. So should Christians living in accordance with the bible try and live their lives like the Good Samaritan.

    But…

    The does seem only to be criticism of Christianity and Christians in this regard on their views of gay sex not Islam and Muslims or Orthodox Judaism and Jews.

    I think we need to be careful about substituting “You can be LGBT+ but be quiet about it” with: “You can be an “orthodox” Christian just be quiet about it.”

    Such Christians see a literal reading of the Bible as who they are and how they live their lives and this has many benefits – there is much to be admired in trying to live a good life in accordance with the Bible as outlined above.

    And Orthodox Christians would say and should not “attack” LGBT+ people. But they do think they should be allowed to have their literal reading of the Bible and not a “pick and mix” one – they cannot pick and choose what to ignore – just as they can’t ignore the parable of the Good Samaritan.

    I am agnostic but I find much to be admired in the teaching of Christ – although I think the ASA would disallow a claim that he was the “Son of God” on the evidence available!

    I think also that trying to suppressing views – the suppression in the past of LGBT+ people or the suppression of Orthodox Christians is not a successful strategy. We are getting to a 1984 Orwellian state if we do that and to societies like Russia and China.

    There is much that I find distasteful and indeed dangerous and causing injury and death even to my fellow citizen about the views of Conservatives, the Conservative party and this Conservative Government (and more than a small Christian grouping). The solution is not to ban Conservatives from speaking but to take them on at the ballot box, in campaigning and challenging their views.

  • I’m with David. Tim has taken the correct course of action once more facts were known. Case closed.

  • Geoffrey Payne 10th May '18 - 9:49pm

    He has withdrawn. It would have been a story if he hadn’t, but now he has, very quickly after the publicity went out revealing the nature of the event.

  • Michael Maybridge 10th May '18 - 10:12pm

    @Andrew Page: ‘I’d also add that we’re usually very keen to criticise opposition MPs when they have appointments with unsavoury people or seem to be supporting objectionable organisations in a similar way. I think we do have to be consistent.’

    Well, naturally. Being, well, partisan, we love nothing more than to criticise politicians of other parties, and, shocking though it might be, that criticism may just occasionally reach slightly beyond the strictly proportional. Don’t get me wrong, politicians, including ours, should expect to be criticised, so Tim can’t have any complaints about a lot of the criticism that’s come his way after what was undoubtedly a bad mistake. But politicians are also humans, and if being consistent involves recognising that about those from other parties too, then that might be no bad thing!

  • I’m with David as well.

  • Jayne mansfield 10th May '18 - 11:21pm

    If Tim disagreed with some of the values espoused by the organisers, why as a speaker did he not attend and speak up and speak out?

    I don’t often disagree with David Raw, but in my view, radicalism involves stating one’s position and thus offering oneself up for challenge by those with whom one profoundly disagrees, ( painful I know).

    Would that I had been offered such wonderfully opportunistic platforms on issues that I care deeply about over the years.

  • I’m also with David Raw. Tim made a mistake, and when he realised that he quickly rectified it. Let’s give him a break.

  • Michael 1
    Orthodox Christians are members of Churches that split from the western Church in the Great Schism of 1054. Of course you mean traditional Christians.
    A careful reading of the Bible will reveal that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was more about the mistreatment of Strangers (or immigrants as they would be called today) than vice and homosexuality. See Mark Jordon’s book ‘The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology’ University of Chicago Press.

  • OnceALibDem 11th May '18 - 7:52am

    Tim is well enough connected in such circles to know the rough position any group will be coming from. And he should be politically sensitive enough to know to take particular care over association with any group coming at politics from a religious standpoint that he could be very vulnerable on this.

    His statement was really lacking in any admission that he was wrong on this (as he always does) – hence the loss of patience by LGBT+ (who have gone out of their way to support him in the past).

    He was either reckless or negligent.

  • Andrew McCaig 11th May '18 - 9:31am

    I am with David Raw as well.
    And I really don’t see why the OP links this incident with the “healing power of prayer” incident, back in 2012, which is just raking over the past using an issue which is only vaguely related.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th May '18 - 2:25pm

    Agree with David Raw, and how is the hip ?

  • Nick Cotter 13th May '18 - 8:45am

    I’m with David Raw ……….

    As a criminal defence lawyer the term ….”he has form” ……….means something totally different to me, and is one which is often used inappropriately and yes in a “snidey” way …………..

  • Tim seems to sail a little too close to the wind a little too often on this one.

    He could take up a public position showing that he is Liberal, Christian and supports LGBT+ people. There are plenty in the party who would support and encourage this.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 13th May '18 - 10:55am

    @David Raw: Good luck with the op.

  • > It seems my ambition to play for the mighty Terriers first team is finally over.
    Walking football team? (*)

    Good luck with the op and your recovery – David.

    (*) Yes I am serious, my father-in-law having had his knees and hips replaced some years back (a long distance runner until his knees gave out), took this sport up.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th May '18 - 2:23pm

    In the theatre you say break a leg, here, David, we shall merely convey regards …

  • Teresa Wilson 13th May '18 - 6:38pm

    I agree we are quick to condemn MPs of other parties for having unsavoury connections but surely the point here is that Tim hasn’t got an unsavoury connection. I mean, if a Tory accepted an invitation to speak at a political meeting and withdrew having discovered the group running it had connections to the alt-right, it wouldn’t really be a matter for criticism would it? If he attended the meeting, or if he only withdrew because the matter hit the headlines, then it would be fair comment. But to withdraw, having discovered the link himself? Not really.

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