A Farron Boost for Richmond Park
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 21st October, 2014
Tim Farron is coming to the end of his four-year term as President of the Liberal Democrats, but he’s still juggling being the campaigning MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale with the demands of the rubber chicken circuit. This evening he was in Mortlake, to open the new constituency offices of Richmond Park LibDems, at 65a Sheen Road. Being Richmond, there were not only distinctly upmarket canapés with the rather good wine, but even a display of original artwork and Liberal memorabilia on the walls. In fact, the front room facing the street will act as a small gallery for local artists to show and sell their work, outside of election times. In his speech, with his usual humour Tim offered good cheer to the local party and the tireless PPC Robin Meltzer by pointing to the example of David Penhaligon, who won the previously safe Conservative seat of Truro in October 1974 at a time when the Liberal Party elsewhere was slipping back. Even more remarkably, Penhaligon vastly increased his majority in 1979, when the party was suffering from the fallout of the Jeremy Thorpe affair and Mrs Thatcher swept to power. Sometimes this phenomenon of bucking the trend is somewhat trivialised in the LibDem campaign slogan of “where you work, you win”, which isn’t always true, as many councillors defending their seats over the past four years have sadly discovered. But it is possible sometimes to pull off a remarkable victory with an inspirational candidate and a truly dedicated team behind him or her. Tim himself, of course, has made his own seat about as solid a LibDem fiefdom as it’s possible to be in England, so one hopes that in the run-up to next May’s difficult general election he will be able to get about around the country still, motivating people. Meanwhile, whichever woman wins the contest to succeed him as President on 1 January is going to have a hard act to follow.