Monday, September 20, 2010

Why I'm Backing Tim Farron for Party President

The role of Party President is a flexible one. There are some things the President has to do, like chairing the Federal Executive, but most of the roll is down to how whoever is elected to the post wants to play it.

Ros Scott has done a good job, and was the right person for the last two years.

My reasons for deciding to support Tim Farron are based on my view of what kind of President the party is going to need over the next two years, which will be very different from the last.

We are very likely to face a difficult few years as a party. Even if our decisions to join the coalition and prioritise cutting the deficit are proven to be right in the long run there will be a few hard years before it becomes clear.

And it is not going to be easy for a party which has developed its collective skills as a campaigning opposition party to adapt to the role of a party of government.

During this period it is vitally important that we have a Party President who can keep morale up, keep the troops rallied and communicate our distinctiveness through the media.

My experience of Tim is that he has the skills needed to be that kind of President in spades.

I've known Tim since we were both involved in the National Union of Students. We were both Presidents of our respective Students' Unions (him Newcastle 91-92, me Leicester 92-93), and we attended several NUS Conferences together where it is fair to say that being a vocal Liberal Democrat was something of a novelty and often drew an excitable, noisy and negative response from a largely left-wing audience.

Even back then Tim was a passionate and engaging speaker, and to this day I always look forward to hearing Tim speak. His speech to the fairer votes rally on Saturday was no exception, despite his lack of preparation time.

Some people rightly question whether or not an MP should take the role of President.

My view is that it depends on the individual and the circumstances.

During the last Parliament Tim turned a wafer thin majority into a massive one. He did this while having a key role in the Parliamentary Party.

I am certain that he is more than capable of combining the role of a backbench MP with that of President and wouldn't support him if I had any doubts about this.

And I also know that when Tim says that he will be supportive of Nick and his role, whilst also being a critical friend of the coalition, that he understands the distinction between these two things and will do both of them well.

Finally I know that Tim's is a liberal through and through, and that he has given his heart and soul to campaigning for our party. During the next few years it is going to be hard work on the ground and Tim had been there and done that. He will lead from the front and enthuse members and activists wherever he goes.

So please vote for Tim Farron to be our next Party President.

The other three declared candidates are also great candidates, each in their different ways. It is great thing that our party's democracy is such that such a diverse field can stand and campaign.

I would like to put a plug in for the pledge bank supporting Jennie Rigg. Jennie does not have a huge income and if she wins will need support to get by. No-one should feel unable to put themselves forward because of financial worries so, if you are able, and regardless of who you are supporting, please consider making the pledge to support her.

No comments: