Tim’s resignation: Wrong reasoning, wrong cause, wrong result

There is a clear irony in this car-crash. Prejudice against Tim’s supposed prejudices appears to have led to his resignation. Since he neither expressed such prejudices, nor, if he had them, allowed them to influence in the slightest his work as Liberal Democrat MP and Leader, what he has experienced is itself prejudice, an attack on his freedom of thought.

It seems a disgrace that he should have been confronted by senior party figures and asked to resign, apparently because of the supposed views which he has not expressed. It was unfair, and the more so since the delegation to him was apparently of unelected peers accountable to nobody, overriding the wishes of members who had elected him.

To the watching world it looks as if he has been forced out on the basis of aspects of his Christian faith. So, whether from an internal or external viewpoint, our party grandees seem to have acted from prejudice, rather than supporting the leader over the media voices which have tormented him with persistent, intrusive but irrelevant questioning.

Our party image is thus smeared. This has been a spectacular own goal, at the very time when the British governing party is unable to command a Parliamentary majority to enforce its will, and the main Opposition has, despite its many gains, failed to achieve power. Our party is now distracting itself with navel-gazing when we have the best chance in years of influencing government action over the Brexit negotiations, the failing economy, and all the other ills being endured by the country.

Party seniors have let down the ordinary members, many of whom were attracted to join the party under Tim’s leadership. Tim was elected in an electoral contest, and members should have been given a chance to vote for him as leader again.

Perhaps this can still occur. Members could write to him and ask him to reconsider his resignation, and to stand in the leadership election which is now to take place.

This should not take place without fair assessment of  Tim’s two years as leader. They have been years of growth, both in terms of party membership and local electoral success. And from the moment of the Referendum result on June 24 last year, Tim has led our party in a powerful campaign to protect Britain’s place in Europe. As the other two parties gave way in the Parliamentary debates last winter, the Liberal Democrats stood firm, their positive identity more strongly established in the public mind than for years past.

After Article 50 was invoked, Remainers began to accept that Brexit must happen, but the Lib Dem campaign led by Tim stayed clear and consistent, highlighting the importance of remaining in the EU internal market as well as offering a final democratic vote on the deal. Tim was firm and strong in leadership, with tireless personal campaigning all over the country and compelling speeches. Only the Election campaign’s focus on the dramatic contrast of the two main party leaders which short-changed smaller parties limited our progress.

Tim has raised the Liberal Democrat party from the dereliction and despair of the post-Coalition Election of 2015 to significance and importance once again. It is astonishing to think that leading lights in the party, unlike ordinary members, seem not to recognise his achievement. I believe party members should now face down the nay-sayers, assure Tim of massive support, and ask him to be prepared to take up the burden of leadership again. We can again then assure the country that we are still in the main, as Tim is, ‘liberal to our finger-tips’.

* Katharine Pindar is a long-standing member of the Lib Dems and an activist in the West Cumbrian constituency of Cumberland.

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  • They may as well put “Christian votes not needed” on the next campaign….

  • I am sorry that Farron resigned in this way. It’s a very sad way for his time as party leader to end. But I don’t think the way forward for the party is the deny the disaster of getting a popular vote less than at the last (devastating) election, and much less than where we were in the polls at the beginning of the campaign.

    All this talk of anonymous “grandees” is also divisive and unhelpful, especially since we don’t know anything about any conversations that might have taken place.

    Let’s hope that the upcoming campaign for leadership will focus not on personalities, but on how the party can define and express an appealing liberal vision suitable for these times.

  • Thank you, Katherine. You write that “to the watching world it looks as if he has been forced out on the basis of aspects of his Christian faith.” Whatever the truth may be, that will be the perception. I will not be alone in needing re-assurance that this is not the case. However, the silence from on high – by which I mean party grandees and not the Almighty – is deafening.

  • If this was a car crash then Tim has been pretty badly injured. You certainly wouldn’t ask such a driver to get straight back behind the wheel. We must move on

  • Charles BONEY 17th Jun '17 - 12:21pm

    The reference to senior Lords is worrying. Can we have this clarified? If it is the case that a delegation saw Tim specifically asking him to resign because of his faith, then that would be so disgraceful and illiberal that many of us would have to consider our own positions …. But these things are often not clear. If they spoke to him on behalf of a clear majority of MPs about his performance and their general confidence in him then that is very different. But it does raise the question of why his rivals (notably Norman Lamb) did not have the guts to speak to Tim personally.

  • Ronald Murray 17th Jun '17 - 12:25pm

    Very sad that Tim felt he had to resign having strong Christian faith should not go against anyone he is a great loss to the country and the party. It has the smell of a witch hunt.
    Please reconsider Tim you are wanted by the real ordinary members of the party.

  • Unfortunately instant damage can take time for facts to be disentangled. Trust me – I’m from Bradford!

  • As a new lib dem voter and committed Christian, I totally agree with the original post. I want to know that I am welcome, that I belong even if you disagree with my views on some things.

    It needs to be ok for me to say, that I think viable premature babies might deserve the same protections whether on an incubator or in the womb. And that I am uneasy that a full term baby with an easily operable cleft palet doesn’t have the same protections as the baby with no “disability”. I don’t even need you to agree, but just to acknowledge that there are some tricky eithical issues here, and if it is my position that both lives matter, it doesnt make me prejudiced, or less liberal. You can disagree with my premise (that the baby in the womb is a human being) but hopefully you can see that if I come to that conclusion it is inescapable to seek protections for the vulnerable,
    without being dismissive of the difficulties for some women.

    I hope being liberal means we can discuss and disagree even, with courtesy and respect, and that like Tim you would trust me more, not less, for being open about my beliefs. Is there still a home for people like me in the lib dems?

  • I am upset & angry over whats happened. There was no need for any of this, Tim had already decided to stand down & there was a consensus building for a Summer contest. The Delegation should be left in no doubt about The Partys anger.
    That does not mean that Tim should stand again. That sort of On/Off Leadership was one of the things that made UKIP into a joke & ultimately, destroyed them.
    What we need now is healing & a Leadership Election focused on our Future.

  • Chris Moore 17th Jun '17 - 1:05pm

    Tim could have stayed had he so wanted. He did not. The delegation is a moot issue. Party grandees will have made their thoughts known. So what?

    The election campaign was misconceived and Tim often looked irrelevant. 7% is a dreadful result. Let’s get real here.

  • Joe Winstanley 17th Jun '17 - 1:21pm

    Chris Moore is spot-on.

    A visit from a group of unhappy party grandees is nothing to what Jeremy Corbyn has faced down in the last 18 months. Tim could have stood his ground – he didn’t.

  • Katharine Pindar 17th Jun '17 - 1:27pm

    The Parliamentary party should surely be focusing on the Brexit negotiations, and making what impact they can on the problems facing the country at this time of very weak Tory government, rather than concentrating on internal party problems. The possibility of another election also suggests to me that it is better to keep our present team together for a few months until the political landscape is more settled. There is no need to hold another leadership election yet, if Tim will consent to stay on for the time being.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Jun '17 - 1:38pm

    Katharine writes with conviction but the conclusion is one we cannot reckon possible.He now has missed our leadership being more directly involved in the aftermath of the fire disaster. We have much to say and contribute that is constructive.

    Tim should not have caved in . It means as we hear , he planned to go , in a few months.

    We can move on and he must be party to that as the Millibands could in the opposition.A waste of political leadership in their prime.

    Charles Boney, why don’t you start by not refering to Norman Lamb, amongst the best in this party , as a rival, to our leader , Tim, he has been a terrific asset and is the best to lead us of those mentioned thus far .

  • Must admit never took to Tim. Always felt he was deeply conflicted – something that could have been sorted if he’d made some kind of speech around the time of his selection.

    The Lib Dems polled 7% – one in 14 of those that voted and about one in 22 of the entire amount of people eligible to vote. Unfortunately they are playing diversionary tactics towards process politics rather than tackling issues and making them their own.

    People are concerned about migration because if you cannot plan migration you cannot plan public services, getting British people into work and planning our public services. Some multi-dimensional thinking is required for new radical innovative policies that square liberal values and the need for change.

    Balance migration is a liberal issue – it asks for consent from the British people to protect those at the bottom and help plug the skills gap. You can’t tackle inequality in the work place unless you tackle migration. The Lib Dems are perceived as university dilettantes prattling about trendy coffee shops.

    Getting every Briton into work is also a liberal issue. It requires radical challenging thinking about the application processes and the nitpicking nature of some of our employers who have rode the mass migration wave too readily at the expense of British people.

    On security set up a national conversation talking about British values bedding in the social progressive attitudes from the 60s. Sort out policy on Islamism – get Maajid Nawaz on the case one of the most intelligent liberals around at the moment.

    It just seems the Lib Dems aren’t interested at the moment in anyone that’s not a fully fledged europhile that jets everywhere living in trendy coffee shops. You are seen as part of the problem. And I say that as someone who loves trendy coffee shops!

  • Well no, the problem was a DREADFUL election outcome, masked only by a few electoral quirks causing seats gain (had the SNP not had to face whichever of the reds/blues/oranges was strongest in 8 constituencies, the outcome would have been the loss of a further seat overall!)

    By introducing his faith into his resignation, and really by electing to resign in such an abrupt fashion (and frankly at such an appallingly horrific time to choose to do so) Tim has done the party no favours. But leaders must lead, and they must take responsibility. Are we really saying that Tim’s meeting with some Lords was so much worse than Corbyn has had, or May has now, that uniquely he decides to walk way?!?

    This is all about a dreadful electoral performance, as I said up front, and everyone concerned should admit so. Proof of the pudding? TIm himself almost lost his own safe seat!

  • Tony Dawson 17th Jun '17 - 2:23pm

    Thank you Katherine for articulating what tens of thousands of Liberal Democrats up and down the country must be feeling.

    Has anyone thought about the sheer physical and mental ‘grind’ which Tim Farron has faced over the past seven weeks or so – far more than any of the other Party leaders have faced and far more than any human should have to take, especially when one of the battles he has fought throughout this period has been facing an inward ‘enemy’ rather than the main outward one.

    Of course, Tim made some errors during this campaign. Who would not do being thrown into a surprise election leading a Party which had just hit it’s ‘Berlin 1945’ moment and after only being Leader for little over one year? But Tim certainly knows more about (a) winning elections (b) inspirational leadership and (c) being a Liberal than the combined weight of the ‘grey suits’ who pushed him out.

    Is there not some convenient wall in Westminster where these ‘grey-suits’ could all be lined up? Being a Liberal, I am not here talking about a firing squad but surely there must be an ample supply of over-ripe tomatoes and rotten Papaya available in central London?

    Thank you Katherine for articulating hat tens of thousands of Liberal Democrats up and down the country must be feeling.

  • I would back Farron standing for the leadership again.

  • Some people had very unrealistic expectations about the next general election after 2015. They should have expected that some of our MPs would lose their seats, they should have expected that our vote share could go down. If you expected a small move forward from 2015 then the 2017 election was a success. This is not to say that there were no problems. Of course there were and we should learn from our mistakes. Tim should have stayed as leader and learnt from his mistakes. However the party establishment was against him becoming leader in 2015 and they seem to have “put the boot in” when he was down. There should have been an enquiry into our general election campaign so we could be clear what happened, what worked and what failed.

    I didn’t like the phrase “the cost of a cup of coffee”. This is because I don’t frequent coffee shops and have no idea how much one costs. I also agree with James that we need a policy on “balanced migration” or as I would prefer controlling migration. The party is too quick to talk up the benefits of immigrates to the general economy rather that recognising the huge costs to society. We also talk up the benefits of free movement of labour for the young, but I am not convinced this perceived benefit is obtainable for the majority of young people, it is only available for a minority. Corbyn has the similar problem but recognises that when we leave the EU immigration into the UK will decline. We need to recognise the problems of free movement of labour within the EU and put pressure on the EU to come up with solutions to restrict the demand for people to move from poorer regions to richer regions which might include restrictions on the number of people who can move into a country depending on the size of the working age population.

    As James states with uncontrolled migration the government can’t plan public services and provide full employment. (We must recognise that the housing shortage is made worse by net immigration.) The ability to import trained people is a disincentive for UK companies to take on people and train them. It would also be difficult to provide a Citizens Income within the current rules of the EU. A Citizens Income and full employment are two ways that economic inequalities are be tackled and reversed.

  • Peter Brand 17th Jun '17 - 3:23pm

    I don’t understand Tim’s reason for resigning.
    The questioning on whether he thinks gay sex is a sin was completely irrelevant and he may well feel that he should have done a better job of dealing with it. There’s little doubt that Christian MPs all think that adultery is a sin, but there’s no suspicion that any of them might want to make it a criminal offence (except maybe the DUP). We’ve seen Theresa May repeatedly lying, certainly since she became PM, and probably before. She’s a Christian, why isn’t anyone asking her whether she thinks lying is a sin?
    But dealing with the question badly, although he alluded to it, is not the reason he gave – he said he felt torn between his faith and his job, that doing both had felt impossible. I wish he’d explain that in more detail. What was he unable to do because of his faith that he felt he needed to do because of his job (or vice versa)?

  • David Westaby 17th Jun '17 - 3:24pm

    I fear there is too much soul searching about an issue that was predictable for much of the recent campaign. I voted for Tim and admire his dedication , intellect and enthusiasm. He has all the merits to take the party from the conference league into the lower divisions. What he has achieved in a short period is admirable. However , his ability to connect with the converted was not reflected in an appeal to a wider electorate. I work in the NHS and spent much time trying to attract others to the liberal democrats. There could not be a more fertile ground. Working daily with a team of junior doctors I was saddened to see no attraction to the LDs but a straight move to Corbyn. Negative comments about Tim were very common.
    i am sorry if the means by which the resignation occurred are reminiscent of men in suits but it was inevitable. If for no other reason Tim could not lead into another election with such a small minority. I very much hope his great skills at motivating the party members continues. However , we must move on .

  • I agree with everything Katharine has written. Tim, if you are reading this, please reconsider. If anyone is raising a petition to refuse to accept Tim’s resignation I would be happy to sign it.

  • Peter Brand 17th Jun '17 - 3:49pm

    james and Michael BG
    The Leave campaigns were full of alternative facts about immigration and you seem to have swallowed the lot. Blaming all our problems on immigrants is capitulating to the propaganda.
    Immigration in this country is not uncontrolled.
    And there are many other factors that prevent precise planning of public services – some of which are quite amenable to government control, although not in a society that we would want to live in. For example: the birth rate, the weather, the emigration rate, life expectancy, geriatric dependency, internal movement, the economy, technological progress, tax avoidance, accident rates, global crises (famine, war, etc)…

  • Tony Dawson 17th Jun '17 - 4:06pm

    Why Tim just HAD to go.


    No place for a man like that in politics, is there?

  • I think Farron should have said “naff off, I will resign in my own good time, if you want to have a public hissy fit so be it” .. but who knows who was in “the delegation”

  • Brian Paddick 17th Jun '17 - 4:50pm

    I do not want to perpetuate this but I need to correct something someone has said about me in the comments. I told Tim when we discussed my stepping down on Tuesday, that this was not about my opposition to his Christian values. He knows and accepts that. I had a long discussion with Tim 2 years ago about what he believes about sex and sin. I agreed to serve in his Shadow Cabinet last October knowing what he believes. Unfortunately I was told not to talk to the media about my resignation and they jumped to the wrong conclusion. I completely understand people believing what the press wrote about my reasons for resigning but they are simply not true. I do not want to cause any more hurt or damage by explaining further.

    I waited until after the election to step down to protect the party and our candidates. I spoke to Tim as soon as possible afterwards. My tweet on Wednesday afternoon and Tim’s resignation later the same day I believe to be an unfortunate coincidence.

    I am sorry if this does not answer the substantive question about a coup, a delegation or a conspiracy but if there was one, it did not involve me.

  • Daily Mail spreads news about Libdem-Tory talk of coalition. I think it’s fake news.

    But if a Lib-Con coalition happens against, this will be a blatant broken promise and there must be an internal coup to expel the Coalition MPs from the party. Those who deal with the devil must suffer the same fate as Ramsay MacDonald in 1931 (expelled by his own party in 1931 after joining Tory-led National Government) for the sake of the party as a whole. National demand was and is always a poor excuse.

  • David Allen 17th Jun '17 - 5:05pm

    “He said he felt torn between his faith and his job, that doing both had felt impossible. I wish he’d explain that in more detail.”

    That’s a good question – and one which Tim clearly finds too difficult to answer. Here’s my attempt to work it out. (NB, I have no religious belief.)

    It is clear that Tim has a form of religious objection to homosexuality. It is also pretty clear that it is unprofitable to go any more deeply into the theology. Thus for example, Tim has commented that he would not say that gay sex is a sin. However, that might well be simply because he also believes that it is only for God (and not for man) to say what is or is not a sin.

    Given that position, Tim cannot simply deny that he has religious concerns.

    The “solution” which would seem obvious to most of us would be something like “Yes, I do have religious objections. However, those relate solely to the way I choose to live my own life. As a liberal, I refuse to entertain the idea that I should seek to impose my own moral principles on anybody else. That is why I will always support gay rights.”

    The conundrum is – why did Tim not do for that “solution”? Whilst it might not have been wildly popular with the gay community, it would surely have settled the questioning, cleared up ambiguity, and persuaded the media to move on. After all, plenty of people would say “I don’t do gay sex, but I don’t have a problem with those who do!”

    I think the answer to the conundrum is that the “solution” implicitly relegates God into second place. It suggests that liberal humanist principle comes first, Christianity second. A devout evangelical Christian could find that intolerable.

    A devout Christian might feel impelled to make balanced statements, along the lines of the classic “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. Or in this case “I disapprove of homosexual behaviour, but I will defend your right to do it”. At that point, one can envisage a Lib Dem campaign manager saying “Please don’t say that!” and a devout Christian replying “In that case, I’d better say nothing.”

    It’s all very sad. High-minded religious beliefs have messed up real life since time immemorial. Here we have just one more example.

  • I think the delegation should put their hands up and receive the brickbats or plaudits this action deserves. if they don’t I’m afraid I will forever have to think of them as back stabbing cowards and certainly not the sort of Liberal I’d like to be.

  • Well if they do crawl into coalition with the Tories can the last Liberal Democrat turn out the light.

  • I know this won’t be a popular view but after years of being in the ascendancy there is a tendency for some Christians to now play the victim card as their influence declines. I believe there is at least an element of that in Farron’s actions.

  • The annoying issue is the “No-Information Wall” which some senior party members seem to have built around Tim’s resignation. Why is there silence? Who was in the delegation? Which members of the party can accept a resignation or request a delay? Is it the President alone? Why are ordinary members being kept out of the leadership discussion by the Westminster sector of our party, and largely from HoL?

    What do we know? First Brian Paddick publicly announced his resignation from Tim’s team – with selected reasons. In short order, Tim resigned on video and cited his inner conflict because he is both Christian and leader of LD. Next, David Laws made a statement to the media about his LGBT point of view. Are there really unfinished issues between LGBT and Christian people? There seemed to be an emphasis placed by some LGBT people about their personal reservations. We did not hear from non-LGBT members of the delegation. Is David Laws a grandee and speaking for us? If not, why was David involved at all?

    I emailed our President, Sal, at exactly the same time as we all received Sal’s email on “Choosing the next leader” – when we were still taking in Tim’s sudden resignation. An amazingly rapid response to a resignation. I have not had a reply to my email – one which includes explanation. Perhaps the focus is entirely on electing someone else and not talking to Tim and to party members. How is Tim managing to remain leader until the recess of parliament? Is he being ignored like the members? Who is standing in to help Tim and his role right now? Anyway, I am waiting to get behind the no-information wall – as a member of a caring party not a machine.

  • First of all, Pete – you are /very/ welcome in this party. Take it from this gay, atheist pro-choicer who has been a member for 30 years. I hope we can have a pleasant argument about these issues over a drink at conference sometime.
    Secondly, Brian Paddick – thankyou for your contribution here. I have been one of those who has been livid about what has happened re Tim over the last week, and in the absence of any other info we are inclined to believe media reports. So, thank you for clarifying your role, but it just makes it all the more important for others to do the same.

  • Ruth Coleman-Taylor 17th Jun '17 - 5:59pm

    Thanks, Katharine, for a well-argued comment.
    I like and respect Tim, have done so for years, and I think he has been a hard-working and inspiring leader in almost impossible circumstances. I am sure we will all miss his brilliant speeches at Conference, his example of practical Liberalism and practical Christianity in getting directly involved in the great modern problems, like the refugee crisis, and his good humour, good sense and friendliness in ordinary conversations. So why did this shadowy group of peers think they had to persuade him to go?
    It seems to me that as a Party we want perfection but what we get is human beings. Every leader – every human being – makes mistakes sometimes, but in ordinary life we tend to focus on the good rather than constantly harp on about the imperfections. Why do we not extend such consideration to our leaders? And why do so many Lib Dems take their criticisms straight to the press and media, giving our attackers a lot of free ammunition to use against us all?
    I don’t understand why Lib Dems choose to collude in the attacks by our enemies. I am heartily sick of reading comments by party members who proudly identify themselves as atheists and then criticise Tim’s grasp of Christian doctrine and say that journalists were right to probe him on this.
    For me, Tim’s long-ago comment that ‘we are all sinners’ covers the sin questions perfectly adequately. In my view, if there is a such a thing as Judgement Day, then that is when our individual tally of sins will be judged.
    What matters in the here and now is whether Tim’s faith prevented him from voting and acting as a Liberal, and the evidence of his track record is that he did vote and act as a Liberal. Lots of people have said so, since his resignation, however much they criticised him before. But whatever the intentions of the people who contrived his departure, they have effectively smeared his reputation and the reputation of the Party. At our present level of support, that is suicidally risky.
    I am sad and angry about what has happened.

  • Katharine Pindar 17th Jun '17 - 6:23pm

    I believe Tim did deal successfully with his internal doubts, remaining a committed Christian and an absolutely sincere Liberal Democrat, but this has been an especially exhausting election campaign for him, and being asked to resign by important figures, whoever they were, was perhaps the tipping point. But he is still needed to lead our Parliamentary group with its considerable change of personnel, and I wish someone would indeed start a petition to ask him to stay on, at least for a few months.

    There is work to be done, as people have suggested above, for instance on developing our proposals for the necessary compromises on Brexit, and bringing influence to bear on this weak government on the issues of the day. We need our leader to be accepted as such, his retirement postponed, ready for example to make effective reply to the Queen’s Speech next week. This time can be one of opportunity for our party if we will grasp it, and we can restore our reputation and our poll ratings together.

  • David Allen 17th Jun '17 - 7:12pm

    “For me, Tim’s long-ago comment that ‘we are all sinners’ covers the sin questions perfectly adequately.” But do the vast majority of voters see it like that?

  • Graham Evans 17th Jun '17 - 7:44pm

    All those people asking Tim to rescind his resignation remind me of a election campaign which focused on asking the electorate to think again, whereas what most people wanted was to move on and make the best of where we now are. Perhaps people should reflect on this.

  • David Pocock 17th Jun '17 - 8:17pm

    @Graham Evans – A part of this for me, ~I would love for Tim to make a fight of it btw, is that it feels dirty. rumors of a group forcing him out are rumours, yet with the wall of silence and the resignation speech, and now the second Lib-con coalition (Which I think is just tory media putting the boot in but still) The whole thing stinks; like there is something rotten is in the party of the Liberals.

    My second thought is who else is there? Every name put forward is chained to our past. I am used to not being sure who to vote for but here I simply do not want any of the above to lead the party. A whole bunch of big beasts returned and the guy who won the seats back is gone and we are told nothing.

    Even with everything that has happened Tim would get my vote, at this stage I have just so little trust in the alternatives.

  • David Abrahams 17th Jun '17 - 8:36pm

    None of this would have happened if Tim had put forward the Christian case for affirming and celebrating LGBT relationships. That he seemed unable to do so is, in my view, both a tragedy for him personally and for the party as a whole. Of course I would not want to exclude Christians who subscribe to the traditional/conservative view of sexuality from the party, but they need to be aware that there are many Christians and many LGBT people in the party who regard that teaching as deeply harmful to LGBT people. There has to be room for open and honest debate on these issues. No-one’s beliefs, however deeply and sincerely held, are immune from challenge and scrutiny. That, for me, is a core tenet of liberalism.
    It also needs to be remembered that many LGBT Christians carry deep scars from the rejection they have encountered in conservative churches. That is why so many LGBT people were so hurt by Tim’s equivocation and lack of clarity on the issue.

  • I am worried about rumours in Westminster that the real reason for the grandees forcing Tim to resign was to facilitate the Lib Dems agreeing to a Supply and Confidence arrangement with the Tories, in addition to, and separate from, the deal with the DUP. Tim promised no coalition and no deals, so he could never have agreed to this. Suddenly his resignation makes perfect sense.

  • First of all, I do not for a moment believe that Tim’s resignation was really about religion. It is obviously about the party’s poor performance in an election where there was a good chance of doing much better.

    Second, objecting to particular political positions which happen to intersect with religious opinions is not in any way, shape, or form, a condemnation of a person’s religion as a whole, much less discrimination on the basis of that religion.

    Every person is entitled, not only to hold any religion (or no religion) that they wish, but also to interpret that religion as they please. Nobody is ever obliged to go along with the (often ill-informed) opinions expressed by religious leaders, even if one belongs to their religion. Plenty of people hold political views that are at variance — often widely at variance — with the ostensibly ‘official’ opinions of the leaders of their religion. This is well known and bothers few people. If a political leader were to doubt that he or she could remain politically independent of religious views on points where religion and politics intersect, one might doubt his or her ability to lead in an independent fashion.

    That is not a critique of religion. It is a critique of the misunderstanding that having a religion binds one to avoid making intelligent and well-reasoned choices that involve both morality and politics. If one has no better justification for one’s choices than “my religion tells me to” one may doubt one’s ability to make key judgments involving political leadership

    I do not actually think that any of this is Tim Farron’s problem. I think he is quite capable of making political choices independent of religion. What I fear is that he sometimes uses religion as a shield behind which he can avoid discussing his personal reasons for his political choices, and that is not a good trait in a leader.

  • Phyllis:
    I don’t think it’s useful to speculate based on “rumours”. If Farron was forced out by those who wanted a deal with the Tories, why would he cite his Christianity and the Bible in his letter of resignation? He could have easily fended off a leadership challenge if the issue at stake was resistance to a deal with the Tories.

  • @Phyllis – great minds think alike and… this afternoon while digging in the garden I found myself wondering if Farron’s departure now made a Lib Dem C&S with the Tories more likely. I find it extremely odd that we have still heard no formal announcement about an arrangement with the DUP given that Brexit negotiations begin in Brussels on Monday and it appears to be still possible (if not probable) that the government could lose the vote on the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday.

  • JR I see your point but….aren’t we all speculating here anyway? Rumours abound that Tim was forced out by “sandal-wearing grandees”, for instance. On your point about Tim’s explanation, I think it’s quite plausible if Tim himself was persuaded that C&S with the Tories was in the national interest but felt, quite rightly, that he could not be involved in this, given his previous assurances, and also because it might all come to nowt. It’s strange that people at the top of the Party have been keeping very quiet for the last three days, and I can only conclude that one reason for this might be because they are very busy talking to the Tories thrashing out a deal. But who knows? Maybe they are all away on walking holidays.

    Paul Murray, I always find that gardening is very therapeutic and enables great clarity if thought. Some of my best ideas have come to my while mowing the lawn or digging in compost 🙂

  • Katharine Pindar 17th Jun '17 - 10:47pm

    I don’t wish the question of prejudice against Tim, which is a disgrace to the party, to be forgotten here. David Laws wrote in ‘News’, I am told, ‘You cannot be a leader of a liberal party while holding fundamentally illiberal and prejudicial views.’ That is, bluntly, an attack on Tim’s freedom of thought, as well as being judgmental without evidence. I trust it is generally reckoned unacceptable for liberals to attack freedom of thought. Such a comment actually upholds the journalistic intrusions which were so distressing for Tim and widely condemned by many Lib Dems. A gay writer will not consciously want that association, I am certain, because journalists of that ilk tend to be motivated by envy of the power of politicians, and seek to gain a compensating sense of power by probing whatever apparently weak spots they can discover in the politicians they are reporting on. Thankfully there are many other journalists, such as Matt Kelly of The New European, who would not allow themselves to compete like that. But the lesser kind are a trap which everyone who upholds freedom of thought should beware of.

  • Douglas McLellan 18th Jun '17 - 2:04am

    One of the problems for Tim with his religious convictions was that he had to demonstrate to the public that he either:

    1. Stick to his faith and would vote against party policy on issues around LGBT and abortion thus calling into question his belief in his own party policies.


    2. Follow what his party policies are and expose himself as a hypocrite for being vocal about his particular brand of Christianity yet also not following it as party leader.

    His problem was that his beliefs are not compatible with party policy in certain areas and the public arent great fans of politicians who cannot even lie and say they support party policy.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Jun '17 - 8:18am

    Katharine, in your last comment you raise some difficult questions about freedom of thought. As you say, freedom of thought is a fundamental liberal principle. We must defend the right of every individual to hold, and express, even views with which we strongly disagree.
    I don’t think anyone is denying Tim Farron’s right to freedom of thought. The question is not whether he has the right to hold certain views, but about whether or not he holds views that are incompatible with being leader of a liberal party, which is a different issue.
    I do not think there actually is any evidence that he holds views that are incompatible with liberalism. But I think most of us would agree, theoretically, that there are certain opinions that would mean that someone could not be leader of a liberal party, even though we would still defend their right, as an individual, to hold and express these views.
    Suppose the Archbishop of Canterbury revealed that he was an atheist? I think most people, of all faiths and none, would agree that he should resign, because he held views incompatible with being Archbishop of Canterbury.
    I certainly do not think that a strong religious faith is in any way incompatible with liberalism. Quite the reverse. Charles Kennedy was a devout Roman Catholic, and I do not think anyone ever suggested that his faith was incompatible with being leader of a liberal party.
    But I am sure you would really agree that there are some views that are incompatible with being leader of a liberal party, even if the leader tried to keep quiet about these views. Suppose a liberal leader was secretly racist – which of course Tim Farron is not.
    I think most people would consider this to be unacceptable for a liberal leader, because such views are incompatible with liberalism.

  • Andrew McCaig 18th Jun '17 - 8:25am

    Yes, exactly, the charge against Tim was hypocrisy more than anything else and his resignation statement suggests to me at least that there was some truth in that charge.
    I was listening to the R4 Sunday programme just now and it was suggested that Tim is a “biblical literalist” . As a humanist and scientist I usually find major areas of agreement with Christians, but I do have big problems with people who feel they must obey words written thousands of years ago without question.. It is a dangerous philosophy and I am sure readers can think of many obvious examples why around the world.

    What I saw in Tim Farron was someone who used his Faith to drive him the extra mile in human compassion and say things about refugees etc that are not popular but are right. But he also said he consulted God before standing for Leader and that set warning bells ringing for me….

  • Katharine Pindar 18th Jun '17 - 8:55am

    Douglas, we have no right to know the details of Tim’s Christian faith, or speculate on their exact nature, but there is no hypocrisy here. Christianity allows us to express our beliefs in the ways that seem right to us, so long as that does not harm others. It is the only religion that accepts sinfulness, so I heard a preacher tell us, because Christ died for our sins; we are indeed all sinners, and must always keep acknowledging and asking for forgiveness for our particular sins, but we will be forgiven. The days of denouncing heresy are long gone in Britain, and it is freedom of thought that most concerns me now. It is the most basic freedom, the only one left to – for instance – many gay people living under repressive governments in some African and Asian countries. Leave Tim his freedom of thought, as he grants freedom to everyone.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Jun '17 - 9:35am

    I hope everyone has noted Brian Paddick’s comment above, in which he makes it clear that the reasons for his resignation were not anything to do with Tim Farron’s faith, and also that he was not involved in any “coup” against Tim Farron. It has been distressing to see people on Lib Dem voice making personal attacks on Brian Paddick, based on rumour and hearsay.

  • Katherine Pindar “Leave Tim his freedom of thought, as he grants freedom to everyone.”

    The problem was that many voters then exercised their freedom of thought by thinking that Tim’s thoughts on ” sin” were incompatible with modern liberal society. Leaders of all mainstream parties should be giving young gay people the confidence to be themselves in a hostile world, not compounding the difficulties they already face by thinking of them as ” sinners” . That’s just (albeit unwittingly) strengthening the hand of those who are openly bigoted against gay people. My daughter has a hard enough time already.

  • It’s great that Brian Paddick has – the only one – come on here to say ‘it wasn’t me’.

    All this speculation (and some of the division) could be ended in an instant if other people at the top of the party put out one email, saying what actually happened. And didn’t ignore our emails, or this furore which is likely to lose us members and make us look irrelevant.

    All those who think going from 8 seats to 12 (when most of them were predicting total wipeout) was ‘dire’ and who imagine we could have won dozens of seats ‘if only someone else had been in charge’ should put themselves forward in the leadership campaign. Show us how it’s done.
    All those saying Tim should have toughed it out: you’d likely have been on here every day, clamouring for him to go, if he hadn’t.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Jun '17 - 9:51am

    Andrew McCaig, you say that when Tim Farron said he had prayed before deciding to stand for leader, this “set warning bells ringing for you”. I am afraid this suggests that you are uneasy at the thought of anyone with a strong faith leading a political party. Don’t you realise how illiberal this is?
    As a devout Christian, naturally Tim Farron would have prayed before standing as leader, before making major decisions as leader, and before deciding to resign. To object to his right to do so, is to object to freedom of religion, an important liberal principle.

  • Peter Andrews 18th Jun '17 - 10:26am

    Just to say that anyone worried that Tim’s resignation is to be used to try and usher in some form of deal with the Tories can be reassured, the Party Constitution is clear, any deal even a very loose confidence and supply deal HAS to be approved by Conference.

  • Peter Andrews thanks for that reassurance. Though…..if I remember correctly, it was Conference that passed Andrew Lansley’s NHS re-organisation, if I remember correctly, so maybe not quite as reassuring.

  • It would seem that today in British politics, it’s fine to be a Christian just so long as you don’t behave as if you believe its teachings.

  • Richard Robinson 18th Jun '17 - 11:28am

    Why is my comment from last night still not up?

  • Ian Hurdley, Many people of faith are in politics, Tony Blair even converted to Catholicism during his term. But not many leaders have ” done God” as much or as freely as Tim has. Perhaps this might refresh our memories:


  • Peter Watson 18th Jun '17 - 11:39am

    @Catherine Jane Crosland “The question is … whether or not he holds views that are incompatible with being leader of a liberal party”
    Has anybody who believes Tim Farron’s beliefs make him unsuitable to lead the Lib Dems explained why it is okay for him to remain as an MP in that party? The only consistent approach I can see is to go the whole hog and call for in him to step down as an MP.
    I suspect that his opponents do not want to do this because it would gift the Tories an extra seat and the whole thing smells more like low politics than high principle.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Jun '17 - 11:43am

    It’s worth mentioning that there is no record of Jesus ever remotely suggesting that gay sex was a sin. Indeed, he said very little about sexual morality at all.

  • Helen Tedcastle 18th Jun '17 - 11:54am

    I address my comments specifically to those who actual Liberal Democrat members posting on this thread:

    Most of this thread is quite depressing.

    If there are those in our party who think it is quite legitimate for a leader to resign because he finds there is a conflict (real or manufactured by others) between being a faithful Christian and the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, then to my mind, the kind of liberalism gaining traction in this party is ideological.

    I never thought that in my political lifetime I would see the party of Gladstone, of Steel, of Kennedy (all Christians) be so hung up by conformity to a rigid dogma of political correctness, that what our leader amy or may think in his head is grounds for removal from office.

    We are the party of conscience. We uphold the value of conscience so highly that it is written into our preamble.

    Therefore, in my view, what has occurred in the past week should trouble all Liberals.

  • Andrew McCaig 18th Jun '17 - 12:20pm

    Yes it did, because I am afraid in an ideal world I would prefer someone fully rational to lead the Party. Nevertheless I voted for Tim because I also wanted someone who keeps their pledges to the electorate and I liked his passion on many liberal issues I hold dear.
    Now I will let you know my opinion, which as a Liberal I am sure you agree I have a right to hold: people keep to all sorts of irrational superstitions. Religion is a particularly popular one. When it becomes too dominant it also becomes dangerous, and there are plenty of examples of that in the modern world from all the major religions including Christianity. If I thought Tim’s religion was dangerous of course I would never have voted for him, but I certainly did consider that possibility before casting my vote…
    Sorry if that offends anyone. I normally keep quiet about this sort of thing. However one of the biggest evils in this world today is the concept of blasphemy, and if there is anyone in the Liberal Democrats who thinks blasphemy is a useful concept then yes, I think they should leave..That is an example for me where religion would be incompatible with leading our Party.

  • Andrew McCaig 18th Jun '17 - 12:26pm

    And let me make it clear that I do not think that in Tim’s case his religion was in any way incompatible with him leading this Party. But the way he did not give straight answers to questions about it was one factor that contributed to his unpopularity with voters, and that unpopularity cannot be denied…

  • Sue Sutherland 18th Jun '17 - 12:57pm

    One good thing that’s coming out of this is that we’re all discussing what Liberalism is and whether it’s incompatible with faith, or any strong belief. I’m under the impression that Liberalism has strong links with the Nonconformist churches so it’s possible to argue that without faith there would have been no Liberalism.
    I’ve been battling with a question asked on Facebook: would someone with fascist beliefs be acceptable as leader of the Lib Dems? I think as a Liberal I would have to say that if that Leader did not impose his views on the party and never put anything into practice or expressed an attitude that furthered those beliefs then it would be OK. Of course, this is unlikely to happen, so I understand that Tim’s inability to answer the sin question clearly may have seemed like an attitude furthering a belief that gay sex is a sin.
    I hope these discussions have helped us to be more robust in our Liberalism so that we can explain it better to the GBP and use it to inform our policy making better.
    I also hope we can move forward by having a members’ discussion about the broad position new Liberalism should take and get the economic versus social stuff out in the open and sorted so we aren’t suspicious of takeovers by one side or the other.

  • (Catherine jane Crosland to Andrew McCaig) “You say that when Tim Farron said he had prayed before deciding to stand for leader, this “set warning bells ringing for you”. I am afraid this suggests that you are uneasy at the thought of anyone with a strong faith leading a political party. Don’t you realise how illiberal this is?”

    Perhaps the biggest successful lie in recent British politics was Alastair Campbell’s “We don’t do God”. We now know that Tony Blair did God in spades, and that the Iraq disaster owed much to Blair’s conviction that God had told him – as was God’s usual habit – what was incontrovertibly the right thing to do.

    Religion doesn’t screw up every politician who holds religious convictions. It did screw up Blair, it actually did screw up Gladstone (cited in your post), it has screwed up US politics wholesale, it has screwed up Iranian and Turkish politics wholesale, it has created a millenium-old conflict which rages yet. George W Bush dared to call his illegal war of aggression a “crusade”.

    Yes, atheistic ideologies such as Marxism do also have a matching capability to screw up the minds and actions of politicians. Yes, there are also some politicians who have successfully managed to combine religion with practical politics, and indeed a few (Carter, Churchill) who may have gained political strength and wisdom from their religious beliefs. But – Warning bells? Yes, absolutely!

  • Helen Tedcastle 18th Jun '17 - 1:08pm

    Andrew McCaig – apologies for interjecting but these rather extraordinary comments caught my eye and invited a response:

    ” I would prefer someone fully rational to lead the Party.”

    In other words, ” I would prefer someone who subscribes to my world-view to the lead the Party.”

    ” Now I will let you know my opinion, which as a Liberal I am sure you agree I have a right to hold: people keep to all sorts of irrational superstitions. Religion is a particularly popular one.”

    Of course, as a Liberal you have the right to hold opinions of your own, selective, reductive and sweeping or otherwise.

    “However one of the biggest evils in this world today is the concept of blasphemy”

    Can you point to where in our British political system this evil has become apparent to you or is it confined to those areas of the world selected and shown regularly on TV, where it is but one of the problems faced?

  • Douglas McLellan 18th Jun '17 - 2:02pm

    “we have no right to know the details of Tim’s Christian faith, or speculate on their exact nature,” – as a private person in the street I can agree. As the leader of a political party that is pro-LGBT and pro-Choice there needs to be a level of confidence that they believe in party policy. That they believe in what they are telling the public.

    “Christianity allows us to express our beliefs in the ways that seem right to us, so long as that does not harm others” – I am sure generations of LGBT people will agree with that statement…… And when it comes to abortion policies who is termed as being harmed – the mother or the fetus?

    “It is the only religion that accepts sinfulness, so I heard a preacher tell us, because Christ died for our sins; we are indeed all sinners, and must always keep acknowledging and asking for forgiveness for our particular sins, but we will be forgiven” – as a person who believes in evolution rather than the Garden of Eden, that there was no first man or woman but instead a slow dawning of what we call Homo Sapiens I believe that there was no original sin and no need for anyone to manifest themselves to forgive me that sin. You may believe that we are all sinners but I utterly reject that and so do many others. What is the parties education policy – evolution or creationism. Only one leads to the idea that we are all sinners. Only one leads us to a place where a party leader thinks we all need saved.

  • David Abrahams 18th Jun '17 - 2:38pm

    I am worried that this discussion is overlooking the experience of the people who should be at the heart of the debate – LGBT Christians who are concerned that Tim Farron regards our relationships as sinful. Tim would have done so much better if he had acknowledged the negative experiences that many LGBT Christians have had in conservative churches. This isn’t a theoretical theological debate. Conservative teaching on sexuality attacks the integrity of the faith and relationships of LGBT Christians. Tim’s failure to distance himself clearly from those attacks is and was very worrying to Lib Dem members and potential voters.

  • David Evans 18th Jun '17 - 3:58pm

    Don’t be silly Douglas.

  • This is a murky business and gets murkier as rumours float around..

    Brian Paddick needs to clarify why – as a former candidate for London Mayor – he tendered his resignation on the morning that news of the Grenfell Flats Fire Disaster broke out. Is this the act of a sensitive and can he justify the timing of his statement. He did not do this in his post further up this topic.

    Sal Brinton, as President of the Party, needs to clarify the circumstances around Tim’s resignation. In particular, was he confronted by a deputation, and who was in the deputation ? As President, Sal, you have a duty to tell the party the truth. Integrity and honesty should be at the heart of any Liberal Democrat transaction or process. There’s a fake news gap to fill.

    If we don’t get an honest clear the air statement then many of us will never trust the Party establishment again, and the Party will truly be on the way to the knackers yard.

  • Katharine Pindar 18th Jun '17 - 4:09pm

    Douglas, it is perfectly possible to believe in Christ and his teaching, and still to believe in evolution! Creationism is a nonsense, and there are many contradictions in the Old Testament. As to sinfulness, Catherine, please accept that Tim said that ‘We are all sinners’ and never that gay sex was a sin. Is it not a fact, secularists, that there seems to be bad and good in most of us, most of us have a knowledge of when we do something wrong, and most of us tend to regret it and wish we could do better? That’s all that ‘we are all sinners’ amounts to for me.
    Tim has voted against illiberalism and prejudice, and I deplore the prejudice being displayed against him. As Paul Murray wrote on the other thread (thanks, Paul), ‘Does he have to think the think too?’ Not for the liberal-minded he doesn’t. Oh, and thanks to the chap who wrote he wouldn’t mind supporting ‘Atheists for Tim!’ Why not, indeed?

  • Hi Kathrine
    Earlier this week I tried to gently make a point that the first 3 rules of sales were:
    There has to be a need
    There has to be an emotional response in your target audience (in your favour)
    You have to speak their language

    I think Tim really struggled with the final one here.

  • Andrew McCaig 18th Jun '17 - 5:16pm


    see here: http://soundofanalarm.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/free-presbyterian-response-to-peter.html

    This is the church of Ian Paisley, the founder of the Democratic Unionist Party, shortly to be helping rule all of us. I am not happy!

    There are certainly people on this side of the Irish sea who think in terms of blasphemy as well, although hopefully not many. I would not want one of them as Leader of the Liberal Democrats – it was an example of where Faith would conflict with politics too much for me.. How about you?

  • Andrew McCaig 18th Jun '17 - 5:19pm

    But just to repeat, I voted for Tim as Leader, and might very well do so again, depending on who was standing against him. Or I might not, but it would not be primarily because of his religious views (even if those are not a plus in the equation for me personally, as they might be for some people who share his religious views…)

  • Douglas McLellan 18th Jun '17 - 6:02pm

    “Is it not a fact, secularists, that there seems to be bad and good in most of us, most of us have a knowledge of when we do something wrong, and most of us tend to regret it and wish we could do better? That’s all that ‘we are all sinners’ amounts to for me.”

    Well that is your interpretation. And the point is that we are not talking about personal feelings of regret and desires to improve. I am a humanist and easily agree with that. What is far more problematic is the fact that Tims version of Christianity clearly goes with the idea that a person who is LGBT “could [only] do better” by being not LGBT. Even his resignation statement was clear about his views. He stated that he was “remaining faithful to Christ” and that to be a “committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible”. So what he is also saying is that his version of Christianity is a better one than the one that LGBT Christians follow. Not ideal really.

  • Helen Tedcastle 18th Jun '17 - 6:33pm

    Andrew McCaig

    ‘Confidence and supply’ means voting with Government on votes to put through the Government programme. As the DUP and Sinn Fein, diametrically opposed parties have negotiated pragmatic agreements to govern NI, then I think we need to get some perspective and avoid scare-mongering. I say this as someone who is no fan of the brand of the politics of the DUP. I’m not a great fan of Sinn Fein either.

    The DUP however, do reflect their particular electorate and govern a devolved assembly. Their electorate is not the electorate on the island of Britain.

    And what this has to do with the leadership of the Liberal Democrats baffles me.

  • Christine N 18th Jun '17 - 7:19pm

    A lot of these comments are the very ones that have been worrying me as a newbie. Having read Brian Paddick, I apologise if I have placed blame on him elsewhere.
    If there is a group of Grandees then I am worried, is this the party I thought I had joined?
    And we now have the situation where we have three groups of possible leadership candidates. Those who will have to explain their actions during the coalition years – voting for bedroom tax? Then those who are knew to Westminster, and have a lot to learn of its internal workings. And Tim Farron.
    I have interacted with a lot of LGBTQ+ people who are hurting and take any talk of sin as a personal attack.
    I worry about thought police and extreme political correctness, both within and outside the party.
    After 2015 from outside the party I was disappointed to see Nick Clegg forced to stand down, now within I am disappointed to see Tim blamed for a general election called in haste and given no credit for the rise in membership. Is this really the party that so many of us thought we had joined?

  • Angry Steve 18th Jun '17 - 7:37pm

    @Douglas McLellan

    “Tims version of Christianity clearly goes with the idea that a person who is LGBT “could [only] do better” by being not LGBT.”

    No it does not. That is something you have inferred with absolutely no reference to anything Tim Farron has actually said. It would be an extremely odd belief for Farron hold as a Christain given that a fundamental tenet of Christianity is that we are all equal in the eyes of God. The Christian God does not give labels to people based on their sexuality. The fact that a fundamental tenet of Liberalism holds that all people have equal rights is derives from Christian tradition.

  • Dave Orbison 18th Jun '17 - 9:12pm

    Douglas McLellan is right. I have seen far too many ‘loving Christians’ promote hatred and the vilest of prejudice in the name of their faith. They sincerely believe their brand and interpretation is right and the LGBT people should burn in hell.

    Tim Farron clearly does not adopt that view. But equally he does not subscribe to the view that many non-gay Christians do either, when they say there is nothing whatsoever wrong or sinful about being gay.

    All of these three ‘bands’ of Christianity are entitled to believe in what they want. But given the diverse views within those that adopt this faith towards LGBT people, it is more than reasonable to be concerned as to which version of Christianity they follow. If it is one that advocates a negative view of LGBT people, if it in anyway ever affects their political judgement as opposed to their personal and private judgement, then of course people are going to be concerned.

    To suggest such concerns is some form of religious intolerance is quite insulting and insensitive to many LGBT people. If you don’t believe me then perhaps you should have listened to the reaction to Tom Farron on this during the election.

    Unless of course the electorate were just wrong.

  • Peter Brand 18th Jun '17 - 9:32pm

    Several of the posts on here proposing long smooth transitions of leadership are ignoring the possibility of another general election within a couple of months. We need to get on with it. Indeed, I can imagine that if Tim had mentioned the idea of resignation to anyone who was aware of the danger of this possibility they may have said to him “well if you’re going to go, go now”.

  • I’m straight, I’m an agnostic, and I’m a happy sinner (it can be quite enjoyable on occasion).

    I’m also a radical Liberal of 1960’s vintage who is beginning to find the modern Liberal Democrats rather tedious, self absorbed and not the least enjoyable.

  • Douglas McLellan 18th Jun '17 - 11:49pm

    @Angry Steve

    You are correct. I have inferred it. From his struggles in answering the questions asked of him. Eventually he stated that he did not think that gay [and gay sex] is a sin but then his resignation statement makes clear that he found it hard take that position (unless there is another policy area that he finds hard to reconcile with his Christianity). Also inferred from his voting record (although the closer he got to the leadership the more he regretted his voting record). Also inferred from his association with CARE and their interns. The Lib Dems had been told for ages about that lot and it took a long time (four years) for the relationship to end.

  • Katharine Pindar 19th Jun '17 - 12:02am

    Christine N., we should all show tolerance of each other in our party. Tim supports LGTB people as he supports everyone, and has no distaste hidden away. It is quite simple really: the command of Christ to his disciples was that they try to love one another. Love and care for individual people is also at the heart of our Liberal Democrat values, and so I find no inconsistency there. I am so glad that you are one of us, someone who is evidently tolerant yourself. We all have different things to offer, and things to annoy each other with too. I don’t think the peers who seem to have caught Tim in a post~election weak mood actually conspire to do harm, but they have had to be very active in the past year and maybe got a bit above themselves.

    I believe this is a nonsensical distraction, and Tim should stay as leader, at least until the New Year, by which time there may be many changes.. What is the sense of us changing our leader now, when it is the Tories who want to change their failed one and are in such disarray? We need our Parliamentary group to be well organised and led in the challenging months ahead , to help our poor country.

  • Mark Seaman 19th Jun '17 - 1:05am

    So many people really angry that someone’s religious beliefs are held to account to the same extent as any political belief! Its not before time, and the real issue is that not all politicians are being questioned to the same extent.

  • From a sympathiser, but not a voter. Tim’s statement was extremely self-serving, portraying himself as a Christian martyr when in reality he wasn’t very good at leading a liberal party in 2017. (As if all Christians agree with him about gay sin.) He deserves credit for the internal work to save your parliamentary party from extinction. But this story began in week one of his leadership and it seems that by week 80 he didn’t have an fair, open, honest answer.

    There are almost four times more gay MPs than Lib Dem MPs – there’s a dying market in weak and wobbly commitment to the good moral standing of gay people, outside the DUP that is.

    Frankly I think Tim didn’t tell the truth when he tried to get out of the gay question, let’s not even talk about the abortion question, and I think a lot of people who are in the Lib Dem receptive audience would agree with that assessment. I think that perception was ultimately a bigger problem than his view on gay sin.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Jun '17 - 8:15am

    Dave Orbison

    If it is one that advocates a negative view of LGBT people, if it in anyway ever affects their political judgement as opposed to their personal and private judgement, then of course people are going to be concerned.

    Replace “LGBT” here by “Christian” and that’s the issue.

    Clearly Tim Farron is not of a background where he would advocate any sort of discrimination against LGBT people. But it seems the prejudiced assumption that anyone who is open about being a Christian might do has in effect made it impossible for him to be a party leader. His personal position may differ slightly from current liberal orthodoxy, but what in practice does anyone suppose he would do that would be unacceptable? Is this really more important an issue than anything else? What sort of party would we be if a leader really could impose personal views like this on it? I would say very much not a liberal democratic one.

    The point is that constant questioning and insinuations made about him really damaged him doing his job. It was constantly brought up in discussions about the Liberal Democrats, which is ridiculous because it suggests that the whole party would somehow share his personal view. It meant that he was unable to promote the party properly because of the attention placed on this thing. And I suspect that whatever he said would have made no difference, because the insinuations would still have been thrown at him.

    What has happened means that for practical reasons it would never be a good idea to have a leader who is openly Christian. Or Muslim either, although I suspect that if a Muslim were treated as Tim Farron has been treated it would be denounced as “Islamophobic” right away and would never have blown up like this.

    How very different this is from the more tolerant Liberal Party I joined, which had no problem being led by David Steel who introduced legal abortion into this country and included as a prominent member David Alton who had strong personal view against abortion and who worked together productively accepting the right for members to have different views particularly in issues where it is known that personal background may have a big effect.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Jun '17 - 8:51am

    P Vine

    Tim’s statement was extremely self-serving, portraying himself as a Christian martyr when in reality he wasn’t very good at leading a liberal party in 2017.

    I think he did not do a good job as leader for other reasons that this, and therefore it was right for him to step down. However, I think he was right to make this point, because as I have explained it was another issue that has serious implications.

    Tim Farron was stuck. He probably would have liked to have given a longer explanation, which would have clarified that he certainly was not one of those Christians who would actively discriminate against LGBT people in any way. And that was precisely what those who attacked on this wanted, because long discussion on such issues diverted attention from what Tim Farron’s actual role was: promoting the Liberal Democrats. However, any attempt to shut things up and turn discussion towards that resulted in the line you are putting “Ahah – so you are homophobic underneath, and just trying to hide it”. He couldn’t win. Sure, a less honest man might have just said what was politically expedient to say, there are plenty of others who do just this, but then that means that he is being condemned for being honest.

    I suspect that he was in a personal dilemma over this. The idea that everyone should have an instant “yes” or “no” position on everything is profoundly illiberal. Tim Farron was probably genuinely torn on this issue, and I think it should have been respected that this would make him uncomfortable to talk about it, rather than force him to do so. Sure, it would have been acceptable to do so if it really would have made a big difference to what the Liberal Democrats would do as a party, but it wouldn’t. Anyone who suggests otherwise: what big things are going to come up in this Parliament on this issue, and how do you think Tim Farron’s personal views would affect the rest of the party on them?

    Tim Farron is a vegetarian, but that was never questioned. How would it be if every vegetarian politician was asked again and again for their precise position on whether they think it is a bad thing to kill animals and eat them? And whether their views on this mean that underneath they might discriminate against people who eat meat. And this done again and again and again, as a deliberate tactic to embarrass them and stop them from being able to move on to talk about other things.

  • Chris Moore 19th Jun '17 - 9:48am

    Senior party members are allowed to express their opinión. Tim, if he’d wanted to carry on, would have. A strong and self-confident leader certainly would have.

    The campaign was dreadful and what little impact Tim made was negative. That I’m afaid is the reality.

    There’s a lot of conspiratorial nonsense talked on here about “delegations”. There is always internal opposition and criticism. Leaders must put with it. It comes with the job.

  • Helen Tedcastle 19th Jun '17 - 10:55am

    Dave Orbison
    ” But given the diverse views within those that adopt this faith towards LGBT people, it is more than reasonable to be concerned as to which version of Christianity they follow”

    Not really, because we are dealing in this case with anything substantial. What you are doing is trying to cast suspicion on Christians for holding views which you suspect leads them to condemn others lifestyles in their heads.

    Douglas McLellan
    “What is far more problematic is the fact that Tims version of Christianity clearly goes with the idea that a person who is LGBT “could [only] do better” by being not LGBT.”


    Both Dave and Douglas seem to have a problem with people choosing to follow more socially orthodox Christianity rather than a version they deem more acceptable. Christian teaching does not in fact condemn any group or individual. All human beings are made in God’s image and likeness. No exceptions.

    I’m just wondering how any liberal could subscribe to such a narrow view of freedom of thought and expression that people in our country who are Anglican and evangelical are placed ‘under suspicion’ not for what they do but for what someone on the internet thinks they might be thinking.

  • Helen Tedcastle 19th Jun '17 - 10:59am

    Correction to earlier comment to Dave Orbison: “Not really, because we are *not* dealing in this case with anything substantial.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jun '17 - 2:06pm


    You are correct above and we agree when these things are brought up.

    We must not forget the party made a mistake on abortion twenty years or so ago, pushing it to be something that has a party position, rather than a conscience vote attitude on. Paddy Ashdown was not friendly on this issue , with Alton, and the policy and approach led to his leaving our party , a real loss.

    The area in which the modern liberalism is no liberalism at all is in its politically correct insistence on one stance prevailing above the inner voice on such things.

    Trudeau in Canada is on one issue a disgrace to Liberalism. He has denied any Liberal party the chance to select anyone who is potentially in the mind to adapt or change abortion law, and barred them from standing if not , as an individual member, in agreement with the present law. Thus every new mp must be ireligious, or a hypocrite, for how can you believe in God or even humanity at a high level of care, and mandate in favour of allowing partial birth abortion as that country do in being the only western country with o restriction on the we limit.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jun '17 - 2:07pm


    Should read , no restriction on the weeks limit.

  • Brian Paddick 19th Jun '17 - 2:33pm

    David Raw asked why I tendered my resignation on the morning of the Grenfell Tower fire. I told the leader in the House of Lords on the Saturday and the Chief Whip spoke to me about it on the Monday. I messaged Tim Farron on the Monday and asked to speak to him. He did not reply until the Tuesday morning when we spoke at length. I told Tim I was resigning. I did not make my decision public immediately because I wanted to tell my colleagues in the Lords first. The Glenfell Tower disaster happened on the Wednesday morning. There was a meeting of Lib Dem Lords on the Wednesday afternoon and I had hoped that my single tweet saying I was stepping down would not attract too much attention. I was wrong and I apologise.

  • paul barker 19th Jun '17 - 2:55pm

    Some “Liberals” need to google the phrase “Thought Crime”. Orwell actually meant it as a warning, not a program for Government.

  • @Helen Tedcastle:

    “Both Dave and Douglas seem to have a problem with people choosing to follow more socially orthodox Christianity rather than a version they deem more acceptable. Christian teaching does not in fact condemn any group or individual. ”

    There are many Christianities, both in organizational and individual terms. Some of them — in fact, many of them — do condemn both groups and individual. There is a great deal of irony in Helen Tedcastle condemning Dave Orbison and Douglas McLellan for preferring a “more acceptable” type of Christianity, and then turning around and immediately proclaiming her own brand of Christianity as “in fact” the only true and correct one. Helen cannot speak on behalf of all Christians and all Christianities; she can only speak for herself and for Helen-style Christianity. Dave and Douglas have as much of a right to prefer an LGBT-friendly Christianity to what Helen calls a “more socially orthodox” Christianity as Helen does to prefer her own Christianity to that of (say) Ian Paisley. Helen no doubt feels that her brand is “true Christianity” and other brands are fakes, but she can hardly honestly present that feeling as an incontrovertible fact. Christianities both more and less liberal than hers have as much right to the name.

  • Katharine Pindar 19th Jun '17 - 3:48pm

    Thank you, Matthew Huntbach, for your sensitive contribution above, and likewise Helen Tedcastle. I think we have to stand up against anti-Christian prejudice, vulture journalists looking for any weak spots, attacks on freedom of thought, and even what almost seems to be looming, militant gay-ism! LGTB people still have a hard time, and it is great that Lib Dems including of course Tim Farron speak up for them, vote for them, and try to advance their rights as much as possible. But Christians should not be seen as potential enemies, and their precise orientation interrogated. We should be liberal on all fronts, as Lorenzo wishes us to be.

    Meantime we should be asking Tim please to continue to shoulder the heavy burden again for a little while longer, with the assistance of a deputy leader, because we need to be fighting this decrepit Tory government and getting Lib Dem policies across and not spending this crucial time on internal politics. It is a great opportunity for us, particularly on the Brexit issues, but we need strong leadership to continue to take full advantage.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Jun '17 - 4:26pm

    Chris Moore

    The campaign was dreadful and what little impact Tim made was negative. That I’m afaid is the reality

    Yes, I’ve already said I didn’t think he did a good job. I remember way back thinking when he was always being pushed as the obvious candidate for leader from the left of the party that actually I wasn’t that keen on him. There are various reasons for this. One is that I was concerned at the extent to which he was really able to stand up against the Cleggies. I think this is a valid question now – it seemed to me that he didn’t make the clean break from Clegg that was needed, and I wonder to what extent he was in some ways just a puppet run by those Clegg had put at the top in running the party administratively.

    However, quite a big contributory factor to his inability to make an impact was the way coverage of our party in the media spent so much time on this really irrelevant issue of his precise position on LGBT issues, as if somehow as leader he could enforce that on the rest of us, so people should be wary about voting for any Liberal Democrat candidate for that reason.

    The consequence of this really is that for practical reasons it would be a good idea never again to have a leader who was open in their Christian affiliation. So, there you go, that’s my point – it seems that in order to protect against supposed unfairness to LGBT people, even though it’s hard to see how that would really amount to anything in practice, it is considered acceptable to have built up to the point where there is real discrimination against avowed Christians involved in politics.

    As I have hinted, those who think this is fair really ought not to discriminate against particular religions. Given that the Islamic position on these issues is just the same or more so, all those who have said it is right for Tim Farron to go just because of this religious issue ought to be asked “Are you an Islamophobe?”. They should then reply proudly “Yes, I am”, because for just the same reasons they would have a fear of Islam, and if they are true to their position should be open in admitting and practising it.

  • Being fully supportive of the whole spectrum of LGBT rights and being a devoted and committed Christian are not mutually exclusive or incompatible things. The problem is that so many people — Christians and non-Christians alike — seem to think that they are, and are quick to either say that LGBT allies cannot be real Christians, or that Christians cannot be real allies.

  • Malcolm Todd 19th Jun '17 - 5:04pm

    I had, with some regret, already resigned from this party on the day of the election, finding it ever more of an irrelevance. Having seen the appalling display of ill manners, shoddy logic and twisted argument displayed by *both* sides of this argument above, I must say it’s a decision I feel much less regret about today.

  • “Being questioned about faith in an election campaign could throw anyone off”

    This is not the first time such questions have been raised. As a professional politician, Tim should know to expect them and be well prepared to answer.

  • Michael Maybridge 19th Jun '17 - 8:09pm

    So I’m going to answer the ‘Tim Farron question’ and see whether or not it turns out to be a good idea. I’m an evangelical Christian, and my reading of the Bible leads me to believe that the proper place for sex is within heterosexual marriage. It also, for what it’s worth, leads me to believe that everyone, without exception is important and valuable, and that loving, caring and fighting for them is one of the very most important things one should do. I’m painfully aware that there are those that will find those two statements incompatible – indeed, I can tell you that in practice they raise some challenging questions, and they’re my views!

    I may be a relatively new Liberal Democrat, but I would consider myself an almost lifelong liberal, having voted for the party at every opportunity. Not only would I never, ever consider supporting legal regulation of what consenting adults get up to in the bedroom (or, within reason, anywhere else….), but I think, and try to practice, that fighting for LGBT+ rights in this country and abroad is one of the most important causes that we face. Indeed, while I very rarely mention my personal, faith – inspired views on this matter (to be honest, they seldom seem important compared with all the other stuff), it’s not infrequent that I find myself challenging the casual use of the term ‘gay’ as a generic insult by the kids at work, as an unacceptable if unintentional act of prejudice.

    And yet David Laws makes it clear that there are those in ‘my’ party who don’t think I (or many others, from a variety of religious traditions) should be a member of it (https://inews.co.uk/opinion/tolerance-not-enough-lib-dems/). I have considerable sympathy for Laws’ position, as a member of a group that has suffered horrendously from religious people, including Christians, in the past, and, shamefully, still does today. But one issue we need to settle as a party is whether our liberalism requires us to adopt a particular, approved worldview and set of values; or whether it welcomes all, regardless of religious or personal views, requiring only that they commit to building a better world in which all are not only tolerated, but can flourish.

  • Katharine Pindar 19th Jun '17 - 8:11pm

    Ian MacFadyen and Matthew, we have to fight these illiberal prejudices that have crept in, and ask Tim to do the same. I was about to send him a final tweet to ask him to stay as leader for the sake both of our Liberal Democracy and of Christianity. But then I thought there was an even more pressing reason. I had just read belatedly a moving article by Janice Turner in the Saturday Times, entitled ‘A fairer society must rise from the ashes’, about the stark inequality and injustices of the Kensington fire tragedy. Her title reminded me of an old hymn, beginning ‘ These things shall be! A loftier race than e’re the world has known shall rise …’ Unfortunately there’s no sign of that, and we must fight now in our time for justice, and I know we Liberal Democrats will not leave it to Corbyn’s Labour. So I thought of Tim’s great humanity, the way he fought for the refugees and will need to again for the abandoned refugee children, and my tweet was to ask him to stay for the sake of the ills of our society. We need such a humane and passionate leader as he is.

  • David Allen 19th Jun '17 - 8:26pm

    “if our party has now become so illiberal and humanist dominated that it has no room for Tim’s Christian faith, it has no place for mine”

    Speaking as a “secularist” who believes that religion is often a major cause of harm – There must be ample room in our party for people of faith. Many people are inspired by their religion to do good.

    We used in the past to treat issues like abortion, homosexuality and divorce as questions of individual conscience, on which we did not seek to impose a three-line-whip Party policy. Maybe we should go back to that approach.

    However – We rightly expressed horror when George W Bush spoke about his “crusade” in the Middle East. We would be blind if we did not recognise the harm that fundamentalist religious views can lead to.

    As to the (far lesser) problem of being unwilling to give a clear answer to an interviewer’s question about sex and religion – Well, of course, that wouldn’t be a barrier to being a Liberal Democrat member. It shouldn’t be a serious problem for a Lib Dem Councillor, or even a Lib Dem MP. But a leader who evades a question has a problem, just as a leader who evaded the anger of the Grenfell residents has a problem.

    By evading questions, Tim was effectively saying to his interviewers “I have views which I am not willing to tell you about. I assert that my practical actions will not be affected by my private religious views, and, you’ll just have to trust me on that. Or, perhaps you’ll decide that you don’t trust me.”

  • “Militant gay-ism”? Irrelevancy of whether gay behaviour is sinful? Sorry, guys. Can’t you see why you fail to inspire new support when the Labour or Green parties seem more in line with the mainstream values of the 21st century about the good moral standing of gay people, values that even Theresa May can fully echo? Can’t you accept that people don’t like to be considered sinful?

  • David Abrahams 19th Jun '17 - 9:32pm

    I want to commend Michael Maybridge for his comments. Although he makes it clear that he subscribes to traditional/conservative Christian teachings on sexuality, he has the grace to recognise that LGBT people have “suffered horrendously” from religious (including Christian) prejudice in the past. That is the right starting-point for this discussion and Tim would, I think, have received a far more sympathetic hearing had he made a similar acknowledgement when he was questioned about this topic and been similarly straightforward about his views. As an out and proud gay Christian I take a different view to Michael on these issues, but I would be horrified if he felt unwelcome in our party following this controversy. I only wish that all party members had approached this issue with the empathy and humanity that his comment displays.

  • Katharine Pindar 19th Jun '17 - 11:35pm

    The good moral standing of all gays I know of is certainly a given, P Vine, but so is the simple Christian belief that we are ALL sinful, as I have gone into in previous comments. In other words we all have failings – do you have a problem with that, gays and straights alike – and actually, in writing this, I don’t accept your implication of irretrievable difference, not because some of us are bi-sexual but because we are all stuck in this difficult and puzzling life with its miseries and its joys, and everyone is equally valuable.

    Michael Maybridge, thank you for that most interesting and useful contribution. You ask eventually however whether our liberalism requires us to accept a particular, approved worldview and set of values, and to me the answer is, clearly no. The reason I say that is that in the first place who has the authority to ‘approve’ any ‘worldview’, but secondly and more fundamentally we can only in our lives perceive a little bit of truth, if we ever do. Our view of truth is evidently influenced by our upbringing and the society in which we grow up, so that you are most likely to be a Christian if you are brought up in a Christian rather than a Moslem household, and who can tell where faith comes from.
    ‘And everyone born into this world alive Is either a little Liberal or else a little Conservative’ – well, W.S.Gilbert didn’t live in our days, but his point is still valid!

  • David Evans 20th Jun '17 - 1:22am

    Brian Paddick – you were indeed disastrously wrong and should apologise, but you also need to explain what differences you had with Tim which led to your resignation, and why, when there would have to be a leadership election within a year, you chose to make such an inflammatory Tweet except to cause mischief.

    You really have caused massive damage to Liberal Democracy.

  • Michael Maybridge – Be assured that David Laws does not speak for the party as a whole. I’ve been a arty member for 30 years, and I’m gay, and atheist. Your contribution here makes me proud to be in a party that can hold both of us. That’s exactly how it should be. The person above who mentioned David Alton and David Steel got it right. Those were the days!

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Jun '17 - 8:07am

    David Allen

    However – We rightly expressed horror when George W Bush spoke about his “crusade” in the Middle East. We would be blind if we did not recognise the harm that fundamentalist religious views can lead to.

    Oh, come on …

    George W Bush used that word without thought about its origin. Where is the evidence that he intended the invasion of Iraq to be a “crusade” in the sense of an attack on Islam? Was there a bunch of evangelists coming along trying to convert Muslims to Christianity? Did the invasion concentrate on destroying Mosques?

    Why are supporting the propaganda of ISIS by using this line, David? The word was commonly used back then for any campaign, although it now tends to be avoided because of the way it was then pointed out how it originated.

    Sure, people opposed to Bush and Blair jumped on this, and started saying things like you say. It has had a terrible effect, because it has helped boost extremism. It is perfectly possible to say that the invasion was a bad mistake without making false claims about religious aspects as you make.

    Of course what actually happened was that by deposing a dictator who had supported a secular aspect and worked with Iraqis of all religions, the invasion actually greatly helped Islamic extremism.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Jun '17 - 8:39am

    David Abrahams

    I want to commend Michael Maybridge for his comments.

    Yes, and Pope Francis has said similar, see here. However, he has not changed the official position of the Catholic Church that marriage is for a man and a woman, and that gay sex is a “sin”.

    I suspect that Tim Farron was stuck between wanting to say something which recognised this traditional position and gave some sort of explanation of it, and realising that if he did that, he would be condemned as he has been, because the only line that would be considered acceptable would be to say “No” to the question “Do you think gay sex is a sin?”.

    So now, because he felt uncomfortable about this, you make insinuations against him which suggest he has a more extremist position on this issue than Pope Francis, despite the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that this is the case.

    Tim Farron was questioned again and again on this in order to cause him embarrassment and to divert attention from him doing his job of promoting the Liberal Democrats. He couldn’t win, because by trying to push the discussion on to what his role actually was, he enabled people like you to make these false insinuations about him. But had he done what you and others suggest, and gone into some lengthy explanation of his position, this would have done precisely what our opponents wanted to be done: switch attention away from our party and its campaign and on to what is very much a side issue. Whatever he said if he had said more rather than tried to push it on would probably have just led to more intensive questioning of him, on and on and on.

    And it is clear now that this will be done to anyone who admits to being a Christian and is in a leading position by those who want to cause damage to that person and his or her party, and it will be regardless of what that person’s actual positions is on LGBT issues.

    So the effect really is that in order to defend LGBT against prejudice it has become acceptable to show gross prejudice against Christians. What next? Shouldn’t we say that it is better not to have anyone who has come out and said they are a Christian as a Parliamentary candidate for just the same reason?

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Jun '17 - 8:44am

    P Vine

    Can’t you see why you fail to inspire new support when the Labour or Green parties seem more in line with the mainstream values of the 21st century about the good moral standing of gay people, values that even Theresa May can fully echo? Can’t you accept that people don’t like to be considered sinful?

    Why do you write something that suggests every single Liberal Democrat holds to a particular position, when the whole issue is that the vast majority of Liberal Democrats do not hold to that position, and some have been quite angry about Tim Farron over it?

  • Katharine Pindar 20th Jun '17 - 9:50am

    I am so glad that you are keeping up the fight, and so cogently, Matthew. I think we may have ensured that prejudice against Christians and all attacks on freedom of thought will be resisted in future. But we need the party leadership to make a stand now , ask Tim to stay as leader for the present, and issue a statement strongly condemning the attacks on him and assuring the public of our continued liberalism.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 20th Jun '17 - 10:33am

    Katharine, I put a comment on Caron’s article, the “bruising week” article, saying that I was very sorry if any of my comments there had offended you, or if you thought I sounded patronising, which was certainly not my intention. I know you feel strongly that Tim should stay on as leader for a while. We still do not really know the circumstances of his resignation, and whether or not he was pressurised into resigning sooner than he wanted to. But I do not see how, after making that resignation speech, he could possibly then announce that he was staying on. He said that he had come to feel that it was not possible for him to lead a progressive, liberal party, while remaining true to his faith. Like most people, I am puzzled by why he feels this. His speech was in some ways quite moving, though I know many people have been distressed and hurt by the way he seemed to suggest that modern liberalism was in some ways incompatible was Christianity. Perhaps, in time, he will speak about this again, and explain what he meant. But after that speech, how could he possibly suddenly announce that he had decided to stay on after all? It does seem that he had already definitely decided to stand down in a few months anyway, so in that case it probably was really better that he should stand down sooner rather than later, so that we can have a new leader in place as soon as possible. We do after all have a number of possible candidates for the role, all of whom would, in different ways, make good leaders. And Tim is not leaving politics altogether. He will still be able to play an important role in the party.

  • @ P Vine
    “Can’t you see why you fail to inspire new support when the Labour or Green parties seem more in line with the mainstream values of the 21st century about the good moral standing of gay people, values that even Theresa May can fully echo? Can’t you accept that people don’t like to be considered sinful?”

    I wonder if the party has any data on the percentage of the electorate that even use the word Sinners these days?
    How many are practicing Christians?
    How many use the phrase” we are all sinners”?
    How does this come across to your target audience?
    What percentage of the population go to church anymore?

    I suspect the vast majority of the electorate see you as been simply a bit wacky, out of touch with modern secular society and worse using the kind of language that shows that you are a bit detached from the reality of modern Britain.

    Sorry, but again I come back to this point.

    Are you speaking the language of your target audience?

    If not, and worse if they see you as appearing to suggest people are sinful (who the hell even uses that word anymore in everyday language), they will simply see you as a bit old fashioned, detached form the major issues of the day, a bunch of oddballs and simply switch off from listening to you.

    Sorry,but I really suspect that the vast majority of the electorate simply think the word sinners is just a really odd old fashioned word to be even using, the LGBT+ community are either insulted or feel its a distraction from the messages both personal and political they want to get across, it derailed the election campaign and now the whole party is turning in on itself in a massive exercise in self flagellation – hardly inspiring at all!

  • Matthew H ” And it is clear now that this will be done to anyone who admits to being a Christian and is in a leading position by those who want to cause damage to that person and his or her party, and it will be regardless of what that person’s actual positions is on LGBT issues.”

    There are very many Christians who would quite truthfully be able to say that they consider gay sex to be perfectly normal and not in any way sinful. The fact that Tim could not bring himself to do so, is what caused him such difficulty. Journalists will harp on anything which presents as a politician’s Achilles Heel. If Vince is crowned, as seems likely, they will re-play, ad nauseam, his interview with two lovely journalists posing as constituents, the whole tuition fees issue will be re-visited, as well as the sale of Royal Mail. That’s life.

  • Dave Orbison 20th Jun '17 - 12:09pm

    David-1 thanks for your comments.

    I am quite shocked as to some of the views expressed. Just because I am gay and disagree with those Christians who chose to view gays as sinful does not make me anti Christian.

    I am a secularist. I could not care less what someone, including the PM believes IF I could be sure it did not lead them to having a negative view of me simply for being gay.

    The dilemma that Tim Farron accepts he faced over this (so there is no insinuation about his views) is down to him choosing what to believe. Many Christians do not share such a negative view of gays.

    To those here that profess outrage at questioning poor Tim over this, would you say the same if he had such a dilemma about race or women?

    Some 25% of young LGBT people contemplate suicide simply because of the negative views that remain in society today. Do you think Christians going around expressing their view that they are sinful is helpful? I don’t.

    As for all the poor Tim stuff. What utter hypocrisy? Corbyn has been vilified for 2 years including by many ‘good Christians’ on here. Tim Farron has played his part in this. Yet just because Tim Farron is asked a question which ihas a simple Yes/No we are supposed to feel sorry for him?

    He stood for leader. He chooses which views of Christianity to adopt. He chose to make his resignation about this issue, as if a poorly led election campaign was irrelevant. I’m done with the martyr thing.

  • Matthew,

    George W Bush may indeed have used the word “crusade” without much thought, but, did he withdraw it, or seek to clarify his remarks, when their implications were made clear to him? No, he let it stand.

    Do you agree that there has been a thousand-year conflict between Christianity and Islam, which continues to rage, and has done untold harm? Or do you think religion is an unalloyed boon to humanity?

    Do you believe that Islamist terrorism is solely the fault of its perpetrators – Or are you willing to concede that the behaviour of Western powers and fundamentalist Christian leaders has been, at the least, a contributory cause of conflict?

  • Katharine Pindar 20th Jun '17 - 4:08pm

    There are statements repeated without evidence that Tim Farron thinks gay sex is sinful, that he thinks homosexual union is sinful, and so on, and what he is believed to think has been shamefully attacked.. But it wasn’t Tim who started talking about sinfulness and sinners in the election campaign, just the gnats and leeches of journalism, envious of power, trying to find weak spots to enhance their own self-importance. In a most useful comment above, Michael Maybridge, an evangelical Christian and Liberal Democrat member, wrote that the Bible showed him that ‘everyone, without exception is important and valuable, and that loving, caring and fighting for them is one of the very most important things one should do … fighting for LGBT rights in this country and abroad is one of the most important causes that we face.’ I would think that Tim entirely agrees with this, but he should not be obliged to divulge his innermost thoughts or comment at all on this. There has been too much attacking of his freedom of thought, disgracefully, even by party members.

    Catherine, I think as I have written in Caron’s thread, Tim could perfectly well state that he has been persuaded to defer his resignation by LD members. in view of the parlous state of the country and the ineffectiveness of this hopelessly weak government to deal with the problems. He could say, truthfully, that this is not the time for the Liberal Democrats to be focused on internal matters, or for any fellow MP to take up the burden of leadership without experience. It would surely be far better for our MPs to elect a deputy leader to support Tim , who will then gain more experience for him or herself for a contest that should be held in the spring.
    Remember, Tim himself was intending to continue on June 9 and for several days after that, until the ill-advised interventions of grandees persuaded him that he could lay down the burden. But he is the best person to lead us through the challenges of the next few months, which will actually bring opportunities for us to advance our policies and help the country. He can be building up his own constituency base at the same time, again proving his value as Leader, and inspiring us once more at Party Conference. It is incidentally more likely that there will be a leadership contest in the Tory party (again!) this autumn than another election which they would find perilous.

  • Helen Tedcastle 21st Jun '17 - 12:40am

    ” Helen cannot speak on behalf of all Christians and all Christianities; she can only speak for herself and for Helen-style Christianity. Dave and Douglas have as much of a right to prefer an LGBT-friendly Christianity to what Helen calls a “more socially orthodox” Christianity as Helen does to prefer her own Christianity to that of (say) Ian Paisley.”

    There is no such thing as ‘Helen-style’ Christianity.

    My point was a simply one that all Christians can subscribe to, based on the scriptural text in Genesis, that all human beings are formed in the image and likeness of God. No exceptions. That is standard Christian teaching and is subscribed to by the orthodox and more liberal alike. Sin refers to personal failings or temptations contrary to God’s law and that is something all human beings have to deal with.

    Sorry but this is pretty basic stuff.

  • Dave Orbison 21st Jun '17 - 5:27am

    Helen Tadcastle – re the basic stuff.

    Many Christians have no issues with gays at all. On the other extreme some believe them to be sinners. That is the point being made.

    You do accept that there is a difference of interpretation by Christians surely?

    On a more fundamental point many of us couldn’t care less what it says in Genesis any more that a story by Hans Christian Anderson. Consequently receiving lectures from those who believe that stuff, though yes they are of couyfree to do so, is of no interest. What is of interest is when the anti gay Christian lobby start publicly disapproving of LGBT or use legislation in a homophobic way dressed up as backed by their faith. The DUP being a splendid example of how twisted faith hurts people lives.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Jun '17 - 10:56am

    David Allen

    I repeat my point. There is no evidence whatsoever that the invasion of Iraq was an attack on Islam. To keep suggesting that it was is just to help ISIS by pushing the propaganda line they are using.

    Saying this does not mean I think the invasion was a good thing, and it does not mean I deny that there has been a history of conflict between Islam and Christianity.

    On that issue, there were times in the past when Islam was the more tolerant of the two religions. That’s why in many countries with a Muslim majority there were also substantial Christian minorities. In recent years, however, in almost EVERY country with a Muslim majority, Christians have suffered severe persecution. The substantial Christian minority in Iraq has almost been destroyed. There are now repeated violent attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt. Blasphemy laws are being used to condemn Christians to death in Pakistan.

    On your point “Do you believe that Islamist terrorism is solely the fault of its perpetrators “, I believe that people bear personal responsibility for their sins and the line “Oh, it’s not my fault, they made me do it” is one which Jesus explicitly condemns in the Gospels. Not sure if Mohamed does in the Quran, happy to be informed by someone who knows if he (directed by Allah as Muslims believe) does so.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Jun '17 - 11:47am

    Dave Orbison

    What is of interest is when the anti gay Christian lobby start publicly disapproving of LGBT or use legislation in a homophobic way dressed up as backed by their faith.

    Yes, and here is the issue. There is no evidence that Tim Farron was of this sort, quite the reverse. But when people here try to make careful explanations – I don’t see anyone pushing anything like the “the anti gay Christian lobby” – your response is just, in effect, to jeer “Nah nah nah nah nah, I’m not listening” with the hint underneath that everyone who is a Christian is really underneath one of these “fundamentalist” types even if they say otherwise.

    By the way, I don’t like that word “fundamentalist” (and similar words like “radical”) to describe the people they are used to describe, because I believe those people are very much NOT fundamentalists or radicals in the true meaning of those words. Rather, they are generally people who have picked out small side issues that fit their own prejudices and actually ignored the fundamentals of their religion.

    The consequences of the way that if people come out and openly talk about their religious affiliation they tend to get tied up in arguments centred around assuming anyone who has a religious affiliation is a “fundamentalist” in the false meaning of the term is that it boost the “fundamentalists”. Others just end up shutting up in order to avoid getting tangled up in this sort of discussion where what they are actually saying will be ignored, and instead they are just subject to insinuations. So only the “fundamentalists” are willing to come out and put their view publicly.

    This case with Tim Farron so much illustrates that point.

  • Helen Tedcastle 21st Jun '17 - 1:25pm

    Dave Orbison

    “You do accept that there is a difference of interpretation by Christians surely?”

    Did you read my comment? I’m not sure you did.

    ” On a more fundamental point many of us couldn’t care less what it says in Genesis any more that a story by Hans Christian Anderson. ”

    I don’t know who you are claiming to speak for. I assume that you speak for yourself, as do I as a member of the Liberal Democrats. I no more speak for ‘The Church’ as you do for groups of unnamed people who agree with you.

    Clearly you DO care about what Genesis says (and by implication what Christianity teaches about human relationships and human relations to God) otherwise you wouldn’t post on this issue or seek to make judgements about Christian teaching.

    And why do you assume that I am speaking for the DUP and the Free Presbyterian Church when I’m doing nothing of the sort?

  • Katharine Pindar 21st Jun '17 - 7:34pm

    Matthew and Helen, I am very much admiring your well-argued comments above, and could not improve on them, thank you. Suffice it for me to agree with one point: if there is an anti-gay Christian lobby Tim is definitely not part of it, quite the reverse. The attacks on him have been harmful nonsense.

    What I am afraid of is, that if Tim will not consider suspending his resignation, which is the more apposite now that he has to lead our MPs in opposing the Queen’s Speech, it will be perceived that he has resigned because he can’t stand up to intolerant, illiberal comments which have attacked his freedom of thought and his right not to go into detail about his Christian beliefs. That perception is very injurious to our party, and of no service to Christianity either, so that I cannot as a devoted Liberal Democrat and an active Christian cease to urge him to think again.

    It would take strength, but I have respected his strength, firmness and resolve these two years. I believe there are many other Lib Dem members who join me in this plea, that now he is supported by an able deputy he will suspend his resignation till the spring, and lead us now in opposing Brexit and getting our policies listened to for the good of the country.

  • Tony Greaves 21st Jun '17 - 8:58pm

    This thread has turned into a repetitive argument amongst about five people. So I say to them – go back to the two pieces I wrote here three or four days ago and then tell me where I am right and where I am wrong, and why.

  • While it is probably not worth and a bit late wading in with my two pennyworth. It is my understanding that many Christians and Muslims consider many heterosexual practices including divorce, sex before/outside marriage and adultery wrong and sinful.

    This does not mean that they support discrimination against these people.

  • Katharine Pindar 22nd Jun '17 - 12:55pm

    Exactly so, Michael, thank you. Tony Greaves (greetings, fellow lifelong Liberal, and thank you for looking in on this), I would submit that the recent comments are entirely related to the original arguments of my piece and do advance them. If they are at all repetitive it may be because the points made do not appear to have been understood. As to your two articles, which I have read, I am happy to reread them, but I don’t recall them as especially relevant to the, in my view disastrous, resignation of our leader, which occurred later.

  • Katharine Pindar 22nd Jun '17 - 9:45pm

    My final word here is to demand that the party hierarchy limit the damage and waste as much as possible by issuing a strong statement, condemning the attacks on Tim for their unfounded presumption of his having illiberal beliefs arising from his Christian faith, and their refusal to accept either his denials or his right not to discuss his beliefs. The statement should plainly assert that the Liberal Democrat party condemns all prejudice, intolerance, illiberalism and attacks on freedom of thought and of expression, and will assert the right of adherents of the Christian faith or of no faith to stand for the leadership and remain as leader, providing they continue to show in their leadership their full adherence to the party’s values. The warm tribute to Tim that will accompany this will state that he fully complied with this requirement, and the party regrets that he was not sufficiently defended against the unjustifiable attacks that he suffered with grace and dignity.

  • Especially in the light of Brian Paddick’s comments above, that the coincidence of his and Tim’s resignations was a complete accident, this thread reveals a woeful lack of ability to manage the Party’s public image. But members should not be surprised: the Party’s organisation is opaque to a degree, even to Members; so why should we bother about making things clear to the electorate? As ever, the Liberal Democrats prove themselves to be more a collection of well-meaning individuals, than a coherent party.

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