Naked Politics Blogger
The Liberal Democrats are the only party in Westminster to actually represent centrist-liberal views due to the polarisation of the Labour Party and the Conservatives. Farron’s untenable position of allowing his personal Christian tenets to supersede his Liberal beliefs and those of his party, made him became what George Osborne would describe as a ‘dead man walking’.
The Liberal Democrats have the best record of any party in their steadfast support for the development of LGBTQ+ rights. The Liberal Democrats were one of the main proponents for equal marriage rights for LGBTQ+ communities. This makes Farron homophobic and out of touch, not just with the rest of his party, but with the ever increasing majority of British people who support freedom of sexuality. Constrastingly, Tim Farron has on multiple occasions refused to rule out homosexuality as a sin.
It is not like Tim Farron has been a roaring success for the Lib Dems either. He was elected against the wishes of party grandees like Lord Ashdowne who supported his rival, Normal Lamb, and through his tenure as leader was unable to shake the mistrust the people of Britain have with the Liberal Democrats since the tuition fees saga.
Tim Farron only furthered this mistrust by being unable to commit to supporting the human rights of the LGBTQ+ community. There was no emergence of a ‘Farronmania’ to compare with the ‘Cleggmania’ that swooped across the nation in the lead up to the 2010 General Election. Instead, the Liberal Democrats actually lost popular support (even though they marginally managed to gain seats) dropping from 7.9 to 7.4% during his two years as leader.
Nevertheless, as long as he legislatively supports the cause, then surely that is all that matters? On a practical and technical basis, then sure. This is not what the electorate want, however. The we are tired of seeing hypocrisy in the upper echelons of governance, and are even more astounded by the hypocrisy of a man who is meant to be leading a modern and liberal movement.
There is the opportunity for the Orangebookers (the more liberal wing on the Lib Dems) to take back control of the Liberal Democrats. This would provide the order, structure and spine that the party needs to have, in order to flourish again. There is a vaccuum of space in the centre ground of British politics for the first time in decades, but if the Liberal Democrats don’t choose the right leader to succeed their rather lackluster previous leader, the opportunity of seizing the centre ground will not be taken.