Here lies the political career of Tim Farron

PUBLISHED: 16:12 16 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:12 16 June 2017

Tim Farron

Tim Farron

PA Wire/PA Images

Because he couldn’t lie.

Some will claim that Tim Farron’s leadership of the Liberal Democrats was doomed from the start.

They will protest that you can’t be a Christian and the leader of liberalism in the United Kingdom.

They will say that his alleged views on same-sex relationships and abortion put him beyond the pale.

But I, a gay man, an LGBT-rights Campaigner and a liberally-minded Christian, supported his campaign to become leader of the Liberal Democrats (and the party’s president before that) and am devastated to see him resign his position.

Now, to be clear, I was as frustrated as anyone, during the election campaign, that Farron seemed (at the start, at least) seemingly incapable of answering the question of whether gay sex was “a sin”.

The answer is of course it isn’t, no more than any of us believe being divorced is “a sin”, which of course very few of us do. I was born gay and I’m proud to be a gay man and I believe in myself and my fellow LGBT brothers, sisters, and non-binary individuals being fully equal under the law. But, here’s the thing, Tim Farron also believed in our equality under the law.

His record of votes on furthering LGBT rights was overwhelmingly positive, including voting (on a number of occasions) for the Same Sex Marriage Bill when it was taken through parliament by the Liberal Democrats during the Coalition years. As a side note, when Ruth Davidson and the Conservatives claim to be “the party of equal marriage” just remember how many Tory MPs voted against it and remind yourselves that, without Lib Dems in government at the time, it almost certainly would not have been brought for a vote before the House of Commons.

Then Government Minister and now Lib Dem peer, Lynne Featherstone, took that Bill through Parliament and I consider the Same Sex Marriage legislation to be, far and away, the best thing the Lib Dems did in government.

Getting back to Farron, he knew that – whatever his private views may or may not be, and I don’t profess to know what’s in his heart – a good liberal does not base public policy judgements or determinations on private prejudices. And he never did.

He knew that, if liberalism is about anything at all, it is about letting the individual flourish and about ensuring (as the pre-amble to the party constitution states) that no one is “enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”.

But, it would appear, some in my party believe you do have to conform to a certain set of views, both in public and in private, and I’m led to believe that considerable pressure was put on Farron to resign by party bigwigs at Westminster. I deeply, deeply regret that, if true.

Farron cares so much, especially about those less fortunate than himself.

He fought for the child refugees of Syria and other war-torn places – a pathetically small number of whom were allowed to come and stay in Britain by the nasty and insular Tory-government of then Prime Minister David Cameron.

He fought for better mental health services, for investment in the NHS and our schools. And, above all, he fought for the United Kingdom to remain a member of the European Union.

That vote, last June, to leave the EU (following the lie after lie of the Leave campaigns) broke his heart.

But, unlike Labour, he didn’t meekly forget or fold away his passionate belief in our Europeanism and internationalism. No, he doubled down.

He became the de facto leader of the 
48%.

He was our voice in parliament.

He stood tall. And he pledged, if a part of any government following the recent election, to give us – the people – the final say on whatever “deal” our weakened Prime Minister and her cronies would be able to secure, following the negotiations with the emboldened leaders of the 27 other EU countries.

I couldn’t be prouder of the stance he took.

It was a brave one, which was criticised by many who believed that we now must
all “get behind Brexit”. No, we don’t actually.

I voted to remain on June 23 last year and I still believe we should remain in the EU today. And so does Tim Farron.

I very much hope he’ll continue to push this case, but I’d have preferred him to do so as my party’s leader.

His leadership was brought down, in large part, I would argue, by a political media class today which isn’t about finding out facts and enlightening the public but, rather, about getting the best ‘gotcha’ moment and – when a politician’s perceived ‘weakness’ is found – gnawing away at the wound until they (politically speaking) bleed to death.

The constant harassment of Farron during the election campaign, by certain parts of the media, about his private views on certain social issues, became, in my view at least, a kind of bullying.

I hope that some will reflect on the way they conducted various interviews, but somehow I doubt it.

In a very difficult set of circumstances, especially following our near-death after the 2015 poll, Farron took our membership to more than 100,000 (its highest ever in our modern history) and saw a 50% rise in our number of MPs.

It would have been my wish that he could have continued to lead our party. That won’t now happen. But, Farron was, is, and will continue to be a good man, a fine liberal and an outstanding public servant. Our party and our country have reason to be immensely grateful for his leadership.

Mathew Hulbert is an LGBT rights activist and a former Lib Dem Councillor in Leicestershire

Support The New European's vital role as a voice for the 48%

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

  • Become a friend of The New European for a contribution of £48. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish)
  • Become a partner of The New European for a contribution of £240. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook
  • Become a patron of The New European for a contribution of £480. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook and an A3 print of The New European front cover of your choice, signed by Editor Matt Kelly

By proceeding, you agree to the New Europeans supporters club Terms & Conditions which can be found here.



Supporter Options

Mention Me in The New European



If Yes, Name to appear in The New European



Latest articles

video Should Labour stand in Northern Ireland?

Labour has traditionally not stood candidates in Northern Ireland. But on the back of the Tory-DUP deal that might be about to change

Little comfort in Davis’ muddled Brexit papers

The Government’s transitional customs proposals are a start – but it will be far from plain sailing for business

How your view on Brexit reflects the charities you support

A new study explores how and why the favoured charitable causes of Leave and Remain voters differ.

The untold stories of women and girls in deadly Detroit

A new film, Detroit, depicts the deadly five days in the combustible city over the summer of 1967 when disorder saw the National Guard sent in and dozens left dead.

Hungary: Eclipse of democracy in the heart of Europe

The decline of democracy in Hungary is an ominous sign for Europe.

video Ancient Rome was more modern than our alt-right

Social media went into overdrive when a BBC kids’ programme included a black centurion.

Support and opposition of a Hard Brexit aren’t just philosophical positions, they are ACTIONS

It’s not who you are underneath it’s what you do that defines you

video The great myth of British pluck (and why it’s a symbol of decline)

Brexiteers have deluded themselves with a belief in the native pluck of the British which will eventually win the day.

video Stirring up hatred is a means to an end for Trump’s mafia

On the ground in a divided United States of America past battle lines are being redrawn.

video The direct line between Trump campaign and Charlottesville horror

Donald Trump’s silence over the neo-Nazi’s in Charlottesville was deafening. But did he fail to speak out sooner because the only friends he has left are on the far right?

Brexit must not mean we slide back in time on gay rights

When Brexit-backing millionaire Arron Banks described homosexuality as a “lifestyle choice” Twitter reacted with horror. Here’s why Britain must not return to the dark days of Section 28

video Al Gore: No lie can live forever

Former US vice president talks Trump, Brexit and climate change denial.

This was neither up-to-date nor a poll. And not a single participant voiced their support for Hard Brexit

A recent poll by well-regarded academics suggested the vast majority of the British public now backed an extreme form of Brexit. Here‘s why that is not the case.

Parliament is filled with “spineless lemmings”

Brexit may not happen at all – when what we need are leaders, not followers, to win this battle

Leave.EU launch deselection bid in hope of dumping soft Brexit ministers out of their jobs

Leave.EU have launched a broadside on cabinet Remainers Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd in a bid to get the pair deselected.

Edward Enninful brings a new way of fashion thinking to Vogue

Fashion can be considered frivolous and in some ways it is.

My sense of humour failure over Brexit has helped clear Scotch mist

I don’t blame the Scots if Brexit leads them to want another shot at independence

The extraordinary story of how the humble spud created the modern world

The rise of capitalism and individualism in the West, and even the current reforms in China, can all be explained by the rise of the potato

Putin is just waiting for the right moment to spear Trump

Vlad the Lad is the supreme master of the macho man holiday snap...

The lesson of Singapore is not one Brexiteers want to hear

Long considered a lodestar of go-it-alone globalisation, Singapore now needs its neighbours more than ever

Podcast

Watch us on YouTube

6 excellent reasons to go out and buy The New European this week

Views: 179

The rollercoaster ride of Theresa May's plummeting approval ratings

Views: 605

A year of failure and fiasco in May’s Number 10

Views: 419

Trending

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter