WATCH: Tim Farron cheered on Question Time

A few noisy, boorish right wingers could not mask the audience appreciation for Tim Farron’s reasonable, moderate and generous-spirited message on Question Time last night.

As has unfortunately become the norm,  some over exuberant brexiteers booed everything he said. They showed themselves up.

Tim was cheered for saying that we need a referendum on the deal. “You can’t start a process with democracy and end it with a stitch-up,” he said.

But it was when he spoke out against Nigel Farage, that the audience really rallied to him.

He said, as reported by the Huffington Post:

“However you voted on 23 June, Nigel Farage does not speak for that kind of Britain, he doesn’t speak for the Britain I know.”

Highlighting his working class background Farron said: “I know lots of people who voted to leave the European Union and they are almost all of them outward looking decent, tolerant people who just happened to disagree with me on the 23rd of June.

“Nigel Farage, the man who stoked racism and division in our country, does not speak for those people.”

Over jeers from some members of the audience, Farron added: “He might speak for you, but he does not speak for the overwhelming majority of the British people whether they voted leave or remain.”

I was particularly pleased to see him come out so strongly against the ridiculous Tory plan to make NHS hospitals carry out passport checks. Tim showed how this was part of the dog whistle narrative coming from the Tories:

He said that doctors should make people better not have to act as border security officials.

He also flagged up the idea that if we want an NHS that meets our needs, we may have to pay more tax for it.

On a question about Tony Blair coming back into politics, Tim said that though Blair had done some terrible things, he had at least built a coalition pre 1997 that beat the Tories and slammed the current Labour Party for making themselves the “most unelectable opposition in British history.”

There was some good commentary on Twitter, too.

And this from someone who describes himself as a red-green member of the Green Party.

You can watch the whole thing here..

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

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This entry was posted in News.


  • It was a great performance. Now let us Cheer him on even more by each of us getting to Richmond Park to make sure we win there and give the party a real boost.

  • Matt (Bristol) 25th Nov '16 - 11:33am

    Who was it said, ‘on message, in volume, over time’?

    Of course, you need the right message and the right opportunity.

  • Sue Sutherland 25th Nov '16 - 12:17pm

    I thought he did brilliantly. I also liked him emphasising that he is from the working class. I would love to see the party appeal to those voters who have desperately tried UKIP for some hope of changing their situation, but who have realised they have also let them down. We have a real opportunity to broaden our base with Tim as leader.

  • I was more impressed with his considered comments on NHS doctors asking for passports…
    A good performance…

  • Tim did a great job last night, and I’m sure struck a chord with many watching and in the audience who aren’t necessarily LibDem voters. He also showed passion, which is a good counter to those who think he and we are a bit wishy-washy.

    I still say much of the media are prone to glossing over the good work by Tim and others in the party, preferring to stick to coverage of the main two parties, plus the lunatic antics of Farage etc. However, I note that the Express is especially annoyed, and eager to report how Tim was ROASTED by a perfectly reasonable audience member who told him to hang his head in shame etc etc. Tim is never going to appeal to their readership, so I’d call it a victory that he’s clearly ruffled a few of their feathers.

  • Excellent performance all round – can’t believe how much more accomplished and persuasive he is now compared to those first hesitant interviews with eyes to the sky.
    Really impressive – passion, common sense, good strong Northern accent 🙂 (I know but there’s buckets of research showing certain accents gain trust more than others – think call centres)
    Also, he wasn’t scared to insist that the NHS is on its knees and taxes would have to rise if we want decent services, which if we don’t want to go down the route of some kind of contributory funding model , is unavoidable going forward.
    I think if he sticks to his guns, trust will slowly but surely return for the Lib Dems.
    Early days, but quite of bit of Charles Kennedy type principled digging in of the heels in evidence which I think large sections of the British population will respect given time

  • Good stuff.

    Keep it up.

  • John Littler 25th Nov '16 - 1:00pm

    I’ve always though Tim was great. He has a terrific turn of phrase which given a higher party profile, could virtually write newspaper headlines.

    Tim is the nearest the LibDems and Centre Left have to a populist, but it’s a “nice populism” with principle, plus an edge. He’s pushing forward humanity’s better motives, reaching for the light and not the political dark side of Trump and Farridge.

  • Mike S 25th Nov ’16 – 12:33pm….Excellent performance all round – can’t believe how much more accomplished and persuasive he is now compared to those first hesitant interviews with eyes to the sky……

    Agreed! His effortless ‘put-down’ of the Farage fan, (“He might speak for you but not for the rest of the UK”) shows confidence…

  • Conor McGovern 25th Nov '16 - 1:20pm

    Sue Sutherland- Me too! Where are the millions of working-class Liberals?

  • John Peters 25th Nov '16 - 2:11pm

    @Conor McGovern

    Are there millions of “working-class” liberals? If there are they don’t seem to vote for the Lib Dems.

  • paul holmes 25th Nov '16 - 2:30pm

    It was the most polished, rounded and effective performance I have ever seen from Tim.

  • Bernard Aris 25th Nov '16 - 4:33pm

    Totally agree with the Charles Kennedy comparison;
    and Charles got a standing ovation lasting over 5 minutes speaking at the (Dutch) Spring D66 party conference in 2004.

    If Tim could see his way clear to speak at the D66 Spring conference (we’re in a very tough election battle with racist Geert Wilders and a host of Dutch populist parties selling out the people they claim to represent: pensioners, working classes, etcetera) it would be the headline of Dutch TV news that evening and dominate the weekend discussion (our party conferences usually are on Saturdays).

    The (eurosceptic) Socialist Party are proposing a Dutch NHS; Tm could disabuse them of their starry-eyed dreams that that would be heaven on earth, forever giving free medicine to the JAM’s.

  • Galen Milne 25th Nov '16 - 9:53pm

    I thought Tim did great. He was in real “serious” mode and made his points firmly and eloquently without being rude to those who were rude to him. Top class performance

  • Malcolm Todd 25th Nov '16 - 11:26pm

    Farron said: “I know lots of people who voted to leave the European Union and they are almost all of them outward looking decent, tolerant people who just happened to disagree with me on the 23rd of June.”

    Some regular contributors on here might do well to contemplate that.

  • Amen to that – Malcolm
    I was not a natural Tim supporter initially but I have to say his humility and political accumem, to say nothing of his natural ability to speak to people in an unaffective manner which is refreshing is winning me over by the day
    Very impressed with the balance he is managing to achieve in challenging circumstsnces so far

  • Lorenzo Cherin 26th Nov '16 - 1:22am

    As I have said before , Tim has the likeability of Charles Kennedy with the energy of Paddy Ashdown. This was excellent from him , he needs to be seen more. And the argument he regularly uses to explain the EU Brexit deal view, is now good and sensible as well as understood and accessible. Chris Leslie even stole Tim’s conference speech line , re; the leaving , journey , destination , aspect of this whole process !

  • Conor McGovern 26th Nov '16 - 1:25am

    John Peters, that’s my point – plenty of people are socially liberal and economically progressive but don’t even consider voting Lib Dem? Do they need to reform or do the party?

  • paul holmes 26th Nov '16 - 2:26am

    @Bernard Aris. Bernard I always read your comments with interest. However I don’t think either Tim now or indeed Charles in the past would ever want to argue against anyone adopting an NHS style system.

  • Daniel Walker 26th Nov '16 - 8:56am

    @paul holmes As I understand it the Dutch system is one of compulsory insurance, with the private providers not permitted to vary their charges due to the health status of the individual, nor are they permitted to “tie” you to a particular provider. It is widely regarded as a very good-value model, with good access to healthcare for people on low incomes, and regularly does very well in comparative assessments. While I have an instinctive preference for a fully-state healthcare system, having been very well-treated by the NHS my whole (asthmatic) life, and I don’t like the “pay the first €385 out-of-pocket” aspect, it does seem to be an excellent system by most measures (some friends of mine who live in the Netherlands are effusive in praise, as an anecdote) so doing a wholesale change to a working system seems a bit daft, frankly. I’d be very interested in Mijnheer Aris’s assessment on it.

  • John Peters 26th Nov '16 - 9:05am

    @Conor McGovern

    I have never given that any thought, I vote Tory.

    I thought this possibly related post by Gordon interesting.

  • It was an inspiration. For too long the Farages, Le Pens and the like have been seen to be “telling it like it is”. Here was a liberal taking the open, tolerant position and really telling it like it is. That wasn’t just a cheer from the audience, there were quite a few visceral roars of individuals who found someone who AT LAST will actually come out with it. We should all pluck up the courage to do the same.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Nov '16 - 10:00am

    I watched the programme on iplayer after reading some of the comments on here.

    Tim Farron was phenomenal. More please.

  • Keith Sharp 26th Nov '16 - 2:43pm

    Tim shows all the signs of polishing his performances while keeping the fire and sincerity which has the ability to rouse and inspire. If he and we keep to this line, with Europe as the current equivalent of the Iraq war, where we are right and different and consistent, we will reap support. I also appreciate that he is not trying to appeal to all-comers, quite ready to oppose the hecklers (as he did firmly but decently), in order to win over our ‘natural’ supporters. There are millions looking for a voice to oppose a blind, doctrinaire departure from the EU; and to stand up for civic freedoms, openness and tolerance.

  • It seems to me that the government is more concerned re the prospect of a parliamentary vote or secon d referendum than most of the Brexit voters I know. I agree that if we voted in part for greater sovereignty the that includes parliamenatary scrutiny… the ECJ ruling on article 50 or any part of the Brexit process would be slightly more ironic and also quite amusing part of me would be fascinated to see what would happen if that were to ever come about.
    Caron would be interested to know your views, or anyone elses whishing to comment, on how the NHS should develop in the future , particularly re funding, if you don’t like the passport idea, then do you have a different suggestion to adress the situation or do you think we should just accept that there will always be some people who deliberatly exploit the fact that our system is free at the point of use? My own view is the issue has been ignored or dismissed as by all parties for too long, and that the NHS can not carry on in it’s current form for very much longer.

  • paul holmes 26th Nov '16 - 4:44pm

    @daniel walker. I don’t disagree with what you say about the Dutch system. It doesn’t alter in the slightest the fact that I find it hard to imagine that either Charles Kennedy in the past or Tim Farron now, would want to go to another country and argue against the adoption of an NHS style system. The NHS also does very well in comparative assessments and if it were not funded 30% less than some equivalent Western European systems might do even better.

  • Daniel Walker 26th Nov '16 - 6:48pm

    @paul holmes You are, of course, right. I think the point I was trying (and apparently failing 🙂 to make was that the Dutch have a more-than-decent healthcare system of their own, and as a party who value results over ideology it would be hard to rationally argue in favour of them changing a working system to be more like ours. I don’t favour changing ours wholesale to be more like theirs, either, it “just” needs more money, change for the sake of it is wasteful (although I suspect the left wing of the Tories would be keener on a Dutch-style system, as probably would some of our right wing)

    It is very hard to phrase that without sounding like I don’t appreciate the NHS, which I very much do. It would also be political suicide to give what could easily be interpreted as an anti-NHS speech by the UK press in the Netherlands.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Nov '16 - 10:37pm

    @ Tynan,
    It is not the case that governments both Labour and coalition, have ignored or dismissed exploitation of our NHS.

    The problem is, the system is not very good at identifying those not entitled to free care and recovering the cost. Labour mooted the idea of identity cards and now the idea of needing to present a passport has been mooted. There is also an immigration surcharge for non- EEU nationals applying for visas to enter the UK or reman for more than 6 months ( there being some exemptions).

    Trying to quantify the number of individuals who deliberately travel to the UK for free treatment to which they are not entitled is very difficult, as is estimating the cost.

    My own view is that we should not be accepting of it, whatever the difficulties. I believe in the contributory principle. The NHS is not free as some claim. Individuals willingly pay through their taxes because they know that they may one day have need of it. If abuse of the system is ignored, individuals start to question the noble NHS principle of free at the point of need. I would argue that it is especially important that abuse is minimised when the NHS is chronically underfunded and people need to be persuaded of the need for more funding for the service through increased taxation.

    Given the complexity of identifying those who travel to the UK to deliberately abuse the system, what would be your answer to the problem?

  • Jayne, I agree that it is a complex issue, I think the i.d. card could have worked, similarly not against being asked to show my passport.
    Like you I believe that people should not be able to access the service if they have no right to do so, I’d accept emergency situations as an exception.
    I do think that any workable solution will have to involve NHS staff and that they will need to accept this if they want current public funding system to continue.
    Re question as to whether the issue has been ignored, I don’t think it has been pursued with great vigor by any party. I have heard some members of parliament suggest that it is not something that should be pursued, either because they feel it is discriminatory in some way or because they believe that the amount that would be raised is not worth the effort.

  • @ Caron

    It was taking place in London. You may like the phrase “dog whistle” but I don’t. He didn’t state how he thought the NHS could recover payment for the few people who use it but are not working in the UK.

    I also liked Tim saying we should say the people will need to pay more in tax for the NHS AND social care. When will 2p on Income Tax be our main policy to finance these?

    I thought Mariana Mazzucato was good.

    I do wonder how much of a problem NHS tourism is. If you have an emergency you go to A and E I think they ask you for your GP’s name and adress. To register with a GP you need two forms of ID including one with your current address (unless by GP’s are unusual in asking for these). Therefore how do you get non-emergency treatment on the NHS without a GP?

  • I doubt that providing A&E services to foreigners is a significant drain on resources. EU citizens (for the moment at least) would be entitled to this anyway if they have the correct form. I don’t think anyone would seriously consider refusing to treat someone who had been seriously injured in, say, a road accident because they didn’t have ID. And those who wander in with minor injuries are cheap to treat and it would probably cost more to implement a system to check entitlement than it would recover in costs.

    The real NHS costs are in managing things like long term chronic conditions and providing maternity care.

  • @Jayne Mansfield – “Given the complexity of identifying those who travel to the UK to deliberately abuse the system, what would be your answer to the problem?”

    To keep a sense of perspective, check out this report –

    The estimates of the cost of “health tourists” who travel here specifically to (ab)use the NHS is between £110m and £280m. At the very worst end it’s about 0.3% of the NHS budget and is less than is spent on stationary.

    That’s not to condone it, or say we shouldn’t make reasonable attempts to recover costs, but it really isn’t the major problem some present it to be.

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th Nov '16 - 10:32am

    @ Nick Baird,
    May I start by saying that I agree with Tim Farron insofar as I do think the way ‘Health tourism’ has been raised has been a dog whistle. It is used as another stick to beat immigrants and those who defend their rights.

    I will work through the report, but the first thing that I note is the date. 2013 There have been changes to immigration law since then, the 2014 Immigration Act tightened the definition of ‘ordinarily resident’ as it relates to NHS services by linking it to a persons right to ‘indefinite right to remain’ in the UK’.

    All I will say at this stage is that given the uncertainty around the data,and I agree from the data I have already seen, that it will be in the range of millions not the billion plus that is mentioned by some, it exists, and those millions are then broken down into understandable terms for the general public to ‘how many more doctors and nurses could be employed if this was clamped down on? By not showing a willingness to clamp down on abuse, my own belief, is that one creates greater not less hostility to everyone including those who are entitled to care that is free at the point of need, but assumed not to be so. ( it would cost more to recoup the money arguments etc.

    I would see this as yet another mistake by the party. I voted for the party despite disagreeing with the amnesty for illegal immigrants under certain terms, but I was upset about it. The argument given by the party was perfectly rational but as in this situation, it failed to account for the way reinforcing illegal behaviour offended peoples moral sense. It also fails to take into account the fact that, if people get away with something that they shouldn’t, it is an encouragement for others to do the same. No doubt a point that will be raised in the link you give.

  • I agree that we are talking millions rather than billions, but I think the argument that some but forward that this is not such an issue, or it is not with trying to collect only increases peoples anger and frustration re immigrants ‘abusing’ the system.
    To give the figure some more context, a large substance misuse recovery service could employee up to 80 staff and would likely have a government funded budget of 11 million pounds over 3 years. So yes we may be talking about a small percentage of the NHS budget but in terms of other government funding it is a not insignificant figure; about half the average annual spend on substance misuse services.

  • @Jayne and Tynan

    Like I said, I don’t condone health tourism. But the cost to us tax payers is peanuts compared to literally billions that the NHS has pissed against the wall on failed IT projects over the years, e.g. the £10 billion on the failed patient record system, and millions more on the years late and massively over budget NHS 24 system and canceled care.DATA project.

    A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking real money……

    That’s really worth getting angry about, but instead we’re talking about the relatively modest cost of sick foreigners getting treatment they’re not entitled to.

  • Of course “health tourism” is yet another slogan and notion trotted out by the non-dom billionaire media moguls to distract attention from the chronic failure to invest in social care and the NHS by this ‘liberal economic’ government.

    What they want is what Thatcher tried to get back in the eighties. See ……

    “Margaret Thatcher’s secret plans to dismantle welfare state almost …………………… › News › UK › UK Politics
    2 days ago – Margaret Thatcher’s secret plans to dismantle welfare state almost … “For the majority the change would represent the abolition of the NHS.

    Like carrion, they want to pick over the bits left on the road after the smash up.

  • Nick, I completely agree with first part of your last post. Inefficiency and waste is a major issue in the NHS and from my experience you could add probation and social services to the list.
    I don’t think it is an either / or situation both should be addressed.

  • Alan Dresch 2nd Dec '16 - 7:32pm

    My Dad was a stuanch Labour man, a union leader in the printing industry – I have always supported socialist ideals myself.
    However the Liberal Democratic positioning of the party is a long term strategy, count me in.
    Don’t change a thing. You might need some crowd funding for the fight, but winning is possible
    Tim had completely passed under my radar, the angry finger pointing closed it for me. He felt that moment and it showed.
    – Good man first, politician second.

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