Tim Farron’s Christmas message

Well that was quite a year, wasn’t it? It was a good one too!

I know, I know, after the referendum and the horrible results in May you’d be forgiven for believing we were sinking faster than Blackburn Rovers (how it pains me to write that), but you know what, it’s not true.

This year we did some amazing things, things you and I have wanted to do for years but never had the power to actually get done.

For one, we put an end to the horrific practice of locking up innocent kids behind bars for months on end in immigration removal centres.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, one of our brilliant MSP candidates who missed out on a seat in May, said that if his loss was in some way a down-payment on ending child detention then “I accept it with all my heart”.

But that was just one of many ways Liberal Democrats in the Coalition put our principles into practice this year.

We took nearly a million of the poorest workers out of paying tax altogether and gave a £200 tax cut not to the rich but to 23m working people.

We gave children extra support to stop them falling behind in school.

We gave pensioners the first meaningful rise in the state pension since Thatcher abolished the earnings link.

Nick Clegg stood up to defend human rights after the riots and for Europe against the Tory right-wingers.

You stood up for the NHS and forced real change.

Would all of that have happened if we let the Tories run the country on their own? I hardly need to answer that.

And we’ve really turned a corner in council by-elections in the last six months, with seven gains, eight holds and just three losses.

So I’m proud of our year and I hope you are too.

Next year will be hard too. We need to carry on doing difficult things and we need to work with our traditional opponents to clear up Labour’s mess and put the country back on track. As Nick said at conference, it’s not easy, but it is right.

So 2012 is a big year for us. A very big year. But our prospects are better than Blackburn Rovers’!

Happy Christmas.

Tim Farron

Liberal Democrat Party President

* Tim Farron is Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Refugees and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.

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10 Comments

  • At least two of the by-election wins were down to a clever new policy “Dont mention that the candidates are Lib Dems except on the ballot paper”

    Not a great advertisement for the year

  • LondonLiberal 23rd Dec '11 - 2:38pm

    Tim, would you support this reasonable suggestion to honour Mrs T’s memory? http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/18914

  • Malcolm Todd 23rd Dec '11 - 2:55pm

    Well, some of this is real enough and welcome enough. We may not have ended detention of child immigrants, but we seem to have made it a lot more limited and less brutal than it was, and that’s a real improvement that almost certainly wouldn’t have happened without us. (Hard to make into a slogan without misrepresenting it, mind; well, that’s life.)

    But I’ve got to grumble at the same old boast about pensions:
    “We gave pensioners the first meaningful rise in the state pension since Thatcher abolished the earnings link.”

    How? When? It’s all very well going on about the triple link, but the problem is:

    Earnings growth has been lower than inflation for the last two or three years, so pensions have in fact been increased in line with inflation, not earnings — so the restoration of the earnings link a little earlier than both Labour and the Tories had already committed to doing it (I think 2 years?) has made no practical difference;

    Inflation hasn’t been below 2.5% in the relevant month for several years, so that guarantee isn’t worth much (in fact, the chief effect is that the government won’t in future be embarrassed by its own success in holding down inflation, as Blair & Brown were that one time);

    The change from RPI to CPI (however justifiable it may be on rational economic principles) means that the inflation-linked rises will be persistently lower than they would otherwise have been.

    So the net effect is that pensions will probably be a few per cent lower in 2015 than they would have been if we hadn’t done anything.

    Now there’s a slogan for you. 🙁

  • To borrow your habit of using football analogies, a few more “good” years like this, Tim and we will be facing administration and relegation to the Evo-Stik league of politics!

  • As others have already addressed the ‘locking up kids’ and pension issue, can I also point out that I haven’t met a single headteacher (and I talk to hundreds a year professionally) who hasn’t said that the pupil premium simply replaces revenue funding which they are now having to spend on capital maintenance following the 80% cut in devolved capital.

    This may no longer be the case when the premium increases next year, but at the moment it is nothing to shout about.

  • Christine Headley 23rd Dec '11 - 9:41pm

    As he is addressing party members, he doesn’t really need to write one-sentence paragraphs.

    Unless he thinks we are really stupid.

  • Tony Greaves 25th Dec '11 - 9:05pm

    Just be careful about insulting the Evo-stik League (Tim has to swear some allegiance to Kendal Town, who in my experience often play better football than Blackburn) though those of us who watch the Northern Premier League every week won’t complain if we (as appropriate) move up a level this year. Won’t be Kendal though.

    But if we want to be able to0 shout the odds at the end of the year – I write about 2012 – we are going to have to have rather more to shout about that we have for 2011.

    Tony Greaves

  • Don Lawrence 28th Dec '11 - 9:53am

    @Tim

    Alex Cole-Hamilton, one of our brilliant MSP candidates who missed out on a seat in May, said that if his loss was in some way a down-payment on ending child detention then “I accept it with all my heart”.

    And when the last Lib Dem MPs finally lose their seats in about 2020, I’m sure we will all breathe a sigh of relief at a job well done and say “I accept it with all my heart”,

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