WATCH: Tim Farron on the Sunday Politics: Progressive, centre left voters are turning to us

Farron on Sunday Politics


Tim Farron was interviewed on the Sunday Politics today ahead of the local elections. Andrew Neil gave him a hard time, as you would expect, but he came out of it quite well.

You can watch the whole thing here.

He highlighted how Norman Lamb prevented the Junior Doctors’ contract being written and commented on what a shame it was that Labour’s internal wranglings had knocked that story off the front pages.


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  • I’m not sure there is any evidence that the “progressive centre left voters” are turning to the Lib Dems. In Scotland and Wales the evidence is strong that they are turning to the Nationalist Parties and a few to the Greens. However, with Labour in an absolute mess and getting worse, there will be many centre left voters in England looking for a new political home. At local elections where there is still an element of trust for the Lib Dems I can see you picking up some support. However, at a national level – 6% in the latest yougov poll – where you are so distrusted, I can see Labour voters switching straight to the Tories.

  • David Allen 2nd May '16 - 1:01am

    Andrew Neil made the blooming obvious point that the party which closed so many libraries and Sure Start centres in government can’t just blithely turn around and expect to be instantly credible as a stout defender of public services.

    Farron tried out different excuses in response. First, he blamed the deficit, and claimed that because of our “improving” financial situation, it had now become a better idea to protect instead of cutting public services. But secondly, he also argued alternatively that the LDs in coalition had moderated Tory cuts, and that today’s Tory majority government was far worse. Unfortunately, these two excuses tend to contradict one another. Furthermore, it is evident that if either one of the excuses was clearly valid, then Farron wouldn’t have needed to use the other one. It all looked rather shifty and evasive.

    What Farron could have said, but didn’t, is that new party leadership makes a difference. That would have been a much more credible thing to say, because it is actually true. Farron’s expressed stance on austerity and social policy is light years away from Clegg’s. Thus, Farron might (for example) have said that Clegg did a great job, but that a change of leadership is always an opportunity to review where a party stands and to gradually develop and update its policies and perspectives, blah de blah. In other words, he could easily have gently distanced himself from Clegg, without being disrespectful or picking a fight. So why didn’t he?

    I wish I knew the answer to that one. Is Farron scared of being his own man? Or have the grandees and/or the donors threatened him with nemesis should he move too far away from Cleggism? Or indeed, is Farron’s often quite radical rhetoric merely a presentational device, a cover designed to disguise a continuity centre-right political stance?

    That last explanation isn’t the one I’d favour. Sadly, however, I bet it’s the one which most of the voters would be inclined to believe!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd May '16 - 2:10am

    Malc does exactly what Tim avoids , being soothsayer ! The interview is one of the best Tim has given , though I could have done without the rather populist phrase referring to the “attack”on the junior doctors and then as one on the NHS itself !The issue is more complex than that .If Labour is to be criticised as “shambolic”, a bit mild for me , it is a very fitting description for the Hunt handling of the contract , many of us in the party fight dominant power where used wrongly and arrogantly wherever it is , and for some of us the Junior doctors have matched Hunt in that area , even if we believe the contract a mistake .

    The reference to “the progressive centre left” , a correct one ,needs the added phrase of “mainstream , common sense ” voters .The many who are against extremes of left and right , like our excellent new ex Conservative councillor , Amanda who has joined us, are not of the former at all times , ie progressive centre left , but are mainstream common sense in their views and compassion !

    Tim is very good when he is both pugnatious and thoughtful , he should avoid the populist and casual .

  • ………………..Andrew Neil gave him a hard time,……………..

    Compared to his usual style Neil gave Tim an ‘easy ride’…After all, he actually allowed him to string sentences together without constant interruption…

  • Sue Sutherland 2nd May '16 - 1:05pm

    I agree with David Allen but with the addition that Tim was elected by the members to provide a clear change from the previous leaders and policies which a majority of members did not agree with.

  • I’ve reached that horrific point in life I always dreaded where I begin to understand why middle-aged people tend to give up on the whole notion of “the left”. The reason the right have tended to do well is because they understand the importance of being in power. The left seem to regard being in power as somehow dirty, and are more than happy to remain ideologically pure in opposition. Hence the Tories are now very much the natural party of government once again, despite looking for a while in the late ’90s as if they might become the UK’s third party.

  • paul barker 2nd May '16 - 5:47pm

    @Stuart. You seem to be looking at a differrent Conservative Party to the one I see. The Tories are deep into a Civil War over Europe & the only reason it doesnt get much coverage is that Labours War is more interesting.

  • Stuart

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve voted Labour or Lib Dem all my life, but these days both seem obsessed with minority causes, political correctness and what they see as saving the world. They seem to think leadership and sensible, popular policies are to be sneered at and not the reason parties get elected. I can’t see anything other than a Tory government for many years to come and the voters will be right, Labour and the Lib Dems don’t deserve to win.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd May '16 - 9:06am

    @malc: Your comment is a fitting description of Labour but NOT of the Lib Dems. And the Tories seem also obsessed with fringe causes and what could be called reverse political correctness.

  • Alex Macfie

    We will have to disagree, I think the Lib Dems are in just as big a mess as Labour. Except for the Lib Dem Peers – who are doing a decent job – the party appears to be nothing more than a rather poor protest movement for minority causes. I just don’t see anything worth voting for and by the look of recent polls – 5 or 6% – I’m not alone.

  • PHIL THOMAS 3rd May '16 - 3:54pm

    No evidence of anyone returning at the moment. Tim needs to understand people see the Party as discredited and out of touch.

  • Matt (Bristol) 3rd May '16 - 4:36pm

    David Allen – it is also possible that somewhere around the leadership are people who continue to believe that there are conservative (small ‘c’) centrist pragmatists – not expressly of ‘left’ or ‘right’ who are becoming detached from Cameron and if the wheels fall off the Tory party at the referendum would naturally look for a Clegg-type offering in preference to Corbyn, Farage or a Tory party in chaos.

    I don’t hold to this myself, but I do wonder if some people are wary of tacking too far left in fear of being seen as ‘not any different from Corbyn’.

  • David Allen 3rd May '16 - 5:45pm


    I appreciate you are making a sincere attempt to identify how others might be thinking, and that you don’t think that way yourself. So please do not take the following as a personal attack, it isn’t. However….

    Right-minded Lib Dems have since time immemorial put forward the warning that it might hurt us if we looked at all similar to Labour. They warned that we couldn’t dare pitch camp anywhere in the acres of political ground to the left of Mr T Blair, because that might confuse the voter. Eventually Charles Kennedy called their bluff, pitched camp to the left of the Blair-Bush axis, and profited handsomely at the polls. Later, Right-minded Lib Dems argued that there was an army of pink Tories out there who would flock to our cause if we steered well to the Right of Ed Miliband and clung to Cameron’s coat-tails. Well, we know what happened to that one! Now, it seems that the people who got it wrong in the past think we should be scared of being confused with Jeremy Corbyn, for heck’s sake! Whatever next? “We have to get tough on public services and the poor and disabled, otherwise we might get confused with Josef Stalin…?”

    I can believe that there are people around the leadership who want to find reasons for keeping Right of centre. I can’t believe that they truly still think that will gain us support and revive our party. I can only think that they see a niche for us – as props for Conservatism, as the crucial swing party who can keep the Right in power.

  • Alex Macfie 4th May '16 - 1:23pm

    It’s quite easy to avoid confusion with Corbyn. Like, don’t honour terrorists.

  • Alex Macfie

    Very true. That is the number one issue that will hurt Labour at the next General Election and the Lib Dems should attack them on it – it would show a “clear” difference between the two parties.

  • I tend to remember Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness being house guests at Willie Whitelaw’s place near Penrith back in the 1980’s at the instigation of the Iron Lady –

    Did that make W.W. and Maggie T. friends of the terrorists ?

    Pack in the cheap shots, chaps – you’re playing Cameron’s rather nasty game. His red faced pseudo anger at PMQ’s today was a display of bullying disgrace.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 5th May '16 - 2:01am

    Anyone not aware of the difference between talking to people you not only do not like , but dislike , because you must, to seek peace , and talking to people you like , has missed the reason some of us criticise the Livingsnes and Corbyns and strongly !

    David , as often , with this issue, above , misses it .I have no fondness for Cameron as Flashman , but far less for someone who says he talked to people because it was necessary , did so often , called them his friends, never condemned them even when in his presence he heard them say extreme things ,played to the gallery of their cause himself at rallies for them , never bothered to review their comments to condemn them when found to be hideous ,and hardly ever had a conversation with the other side of the disputes concerned , from Ireland , and especially , to the Middle East .

    Livingstone cut bus fares. Corbyn has a nice line in rail re nationalisation.
    I find it hard to think of any other significant positive thing , politically , about either .

    Maybe they should have quit politics ages ago and worked for Transport for London !

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