Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

The London LibDems’ Party Leadership Hustings

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 17th June, 2015

leadership hustingsNorman Lamb and Tim FarronNearly 1,200 Liberal Democrat members (many of them newbies) gathered in the Institute of Education’s Logan Hall in Bloomsbury this evening for the London regional party’s hustings for the party leadership, compered by Party President (Baroness) Sal Brinton. Having had quite a lot of contact with both candidates over the years, and being aware of their very different characters and styles, I was curious to see how they would go down. It was all very gentlemanly, of course — not least because Tim Farron admitted right at the beginning that Norman Lamb had been his mentor when he first entered Parliament. Both have dug themselves in impressively in their respective constituencies of Westmoreland & Lonsdale and Norfolk North and thus did not get swept away by last month’s tsumani, which removed five of London’s six sitting MPs (only one of whom, Lynne Featherstone, appeared to be present this evening). Intriguingly, given that Tim is seen as being on the “left” of the Party, famously voting against tuition fees and not having any role in the Coalition Government, he was the one who paid the most fulsome tribute to Nick Clegg and the LibDem wins in government 2010-2015. But both men stressed the need for a reassertion of Liberal values. Tim has the advantage of being a born communicator and a bit of a cheeky chappie, whereas Norman has the gravitas not only of having had ministerial responsibility but also having thought through very deeply issues relating to significant subjects, not least mental health. If one asks the question, “Which one would make the more convincing Prime Minister?”, Norman would win hands down. But if the Party is currently basically looking for someone who can boost morale and rebuild the party from the bottom up, then Tim has the edge. Tim has also been doing the rubber chicken circuit for several years, as probably the most energetic Party President we have ever seen. This means that although I personally shall opt for gravitas, I will be extremely happy to work with whichever one of them wins the all-member vote and I can only be thankful that given that the Liberal Democrats have only eight MPs left — all men, alas — it’s tremendous that we have two such talented but different candidates to choose from. And I do believe the contest will help enthuse our recent intake of 16,000+ new members.

4 Responses to “The London LibDems’ Party Leadership Hustings”

  1. Peter Kemp said

    ye, i was in attendance, def Norman for me 🙂

  2. What is the point of deciding on the basis on “Who would be the best PM?”. Whoever wins is not going to be the next PM.
    The job on offer is leader of the party. The job description should start with the line – “Save the party from extinction”.

    Even if he stood up to his eyebrows in a swimming pool of ‘gravitas’ let’s face it Norman Lamb is not exactly made of the right stuff to save a political party from extinction.

    Fine if you were looking for a quiet legal clerk to check that your will is written neatly — but leader of a political party? No.

  3. Grace Goodlad said

    Personally I think we need someone with the energy, vibrancy and humanity Tim is showing. Charles Kennedy has sadly been taken from him far too young – but the pejorative name-calling of “Chat-show Charlie” feels like the same stuff about Tim not being serious enough. The electorate want a warm and real human being to engage with and be roused by. That person is most definitely Tim Farron.

  4. Tim Hill said

    For once I completely agree with John Tilley. I don’t understand the logic of voting for someone who has gravitas and who would make the best PM ! With 8 MPS, we need a scrapper and a fighter and Tim best fits the bill.

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