May 23, 2015
A photo I took of Tim after having a cup of tea with him in Portcullis House, Westminster on March 24th this year
We are very fortunate to have someone of Tim Farron’s skills available to us as a leader of the Liberal Democrats at this time. We need to rediscover and refocus our liberal values. Tim is a lode star of liberalism. He is a walking, talking embodiment of liberalism. I can trust 100% that in any given situation, if Tim is asked for his view on it, he will give a 100% liberal view – and do it with enormous passion and clarity.
Tim is a very honest and sincere person. As has been said, he shakes every hand, answers every tweet, email and direct message. I honestly believe he does so not out of ambition, but because he feels he ought to. That it is his duty to be polite and friendly.
So in this desperate situation for the party, we need Tim to re-establish our identity as liberals. That identity has been blurred by five years of compromise in government. We need Tim to electrify us – as only he can – in the party and non-party members up and down the country with passion for liberalism.
Tim reminds me of many of my heroines and heroes in the Liberal Democrats and Liberal party. John Pardoe. Shirley Williams. Jeremy Thorpe. He is precisely the sort of person we need at this time. A rabble rouser. A “march to the sound of gunfire”-type person.
Back in 2003, with my family, we were privileged to be invited to one of Gerald Vernon-Jackson’s legendary birthday jaunts. This one was a weekend in Prague. We were fortunate to spend quite a bit of time, during the festivities, with Norman Lamb and his wife. They were in the same hotel as us and we shared tables with them etc. So we were able to get to know Norman, who was two years into his time as MP for North Norfolk. My overall impression was, and is, that Norman is a very, very nice man. His spell in government, his very firm base in his constituency, his stand on mental health, and the dignified way he dealt with the publicity surrounding his family, all show that Norman is a very passionate and effective liberal. I have enormous respect for him.
But at this particular time in the Liberal Democrats we need a rabble rouser as leader. Whatever Norman’s huge talents, he is not a rabble rouser.
I should add that I know, from what he said as party President at a dinner at Hampstead Norreys locally a couple of years ago, that Tim has enormous respect for Norman and has based his whole behaviour as a local MP on the “Lamb plan” as operated for many years in North Norfolk. It is no accident that Tim and Norman are two of our remaining MPs – both in areas with Conservative-dominated histories.
Me and Tim stuffing envelopes at the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election 3rd January 2011