Tim Farron

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Tim Farron
MP
Tim Farron 2016 (cropped).jpg
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Assumed office
16 July 2015
Preceded by Nick Clegg
Liberal Democrat Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Spokesman
In office
7 January 2015 – 16 July 2015
Leader Nick Clegg
Preceded by Ed Davey (2010)
Succeeded by Tom Brake
President of the Liberal Democrats
In office
1 January 2011 – 1 January 2015
Leader Nick Clegg
Preceded by The Baroness Scott of Needham Market
Succeeded by The Baroness Brinton
Liberal Democrat Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Spokesman
In office
October 2008 – 11 May 2010
Leader Nick Clegg
Preceded by Steve Webb
Succeeded by Dan Rogerson (2015)
Member of Parliament
for Westmorland and Lonsdale
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Tim Collins
Majority 8,949 (18.3%)
Personal details
Born Timothy James Farron
(1970-05-27) 27 May 1970 (age 46)
Preston, England, UK
Political party Liberal Democrats
Spouse(s) Rosie Farron
Children 2 daughters
2 sons
Alma mater Newcastle University
Religion Anglicanism

Timothy James "Tim" Farron (born 27 May 1970) is a British politician who is the current Leader of the Liberal Democrats.[1] He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Westmorland and Lonsdale since 2005 and was the President of the Liberal Democrats from 2011 to 2015.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Farron was born in Preston, Lancashire and educated at Lostock Hall High School and Runshaw College, Leyland,[4] before going on to Newcastle University where he gained a BA in Politics in 1992.[5] He was president of Newcastle University Union Society, the first Liberal Democrat to hold the position, in 1991,[5] having joined the Liberal Party at the age of 16.[4] In 1990, he was elected to the National Union of Students' National Executive.[5]

Before his election to Parliament, Farron worked in higher education at Lancaster University from 1992 to 2002,[5] and St. Martin's College, Ambleside, from 2002 to 2005.[6]

Political career[edit]

Positions beginning prior to 2005[edit]

Farron contested North West Durham at the 1992 general election, where he finished in third place, behind the sitting Labour Party MP Hilary Armstrong and Conservative Party candidate Theresa May.[4] He then served on Lancashire County Council from 1993 to 2000 and was also a councillor on South Ribble Borough Council from 1995 to 1999.[citation needed]

Farron was selected to contest the Labour/Conservative marginal constituency of South Ribble at the 1997 general election, and again finished in third place.[citation needed] Thereafter, he was a Liberal Democrat candidate for the North West region in the 1999 European Parliament elections.[citation needed]

At the 2001 general election, Farron contested the Westmorland and Lonsdale seat and finished second, reducing the majority of the sitting Conservative MP Tim Collins to 3,167.[citation needed] He then served as a councillor for the Milnthorpe ward on the South Lakeland District Council from 2004 to 2008.[citation needed]

Westmorland and Lonsdale 2005 win, through 2009[edit]

At the 2005 general election, Farron again fought Collins in Westmorland and Lonsdale, and this time won this election by a narrow margin of just 267 votes.[6] He made his maiden speech in Parliament on 25 May 2005.[7] As a new MP, he became a member of the Education and Skills Select Committee and was appointed as Youth Affairs Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats.[4] From this time,[when?] he has been the Chair of the All Party group on Hill Farming.[citation needed]

During Menzies Campbell's period as the Liberal Democrat leader, Farron was Campbell's Parliamentary Private Secretary.[4] In 2007 he was made Liberal Democrat spokesman for Home Affairs.[citation needed]

Farron resigned from the front bench of the Liberal Democrats on 5 March 2008 in protest at the party's abstention from a parliamentary vote on the EU referendum. However he later returned to the party's front bench as spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.[8] He is a member of the Beveridge Group within the Liberal Democrats.[9]

2010s[edit]

In the 2010 general election, Farron achieved an 11.1% swing from the Conservatives, winning by a majority of 12,264 in his historically Conservative seat. This result was against the run of the rest of the party, making Westmorland and Lonsdale one of the few Liberal Democrat strongholds.[10]

On 27 May 2010, Farron announced he would be standing for the position of Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, made vacant by the resignation of Vince Cable. On 9 June, Farron lost the competition to the former party President, Simon Hughes. Hughes won by 20 votes; having had 38 nominations from the parliamentary party, compared to Farron's 18.

Farron in 2008
Farron speaking at a Liberal Democrat conference in the Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, 2014.

On 16 September 2010, Farron announced he would be standing for the position of President of the Liberal Democrats following The Baroness Scott's decision not to seek re-election. He won the election with 53% of the vote, beating fellow candidate Susan Kramer on 47%.[11]

In March 2012, Farron was one of three MPs who signed a letter sent to the Advertising Standards Authority, criticising their recent decision to stop the Christian group "Healing on the Streets of Bath" from making explicit claims that prayer can heal. The letter called for the ASA to provide indisputable scientific evidence that faith healing did not work; Farron subsequently admitted that the letter was not "well-worded" and that he should not have signed it "as it was written".[12]

Farron was one of only eight Liberal Democrats elected nationwide at the 2015 general election. He was considered a favourite to succeed Clegg as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.[13]

In May 2015, Farron confirmed his bid for the Liberal Democrat leadership on BBC Radio 4.[14]

On 16 July 2015, Farron won the leadership election with 56.5% of the vote, ahead of Norman Lamb who achieved 43.5%.[1]

Leadership of the Liberal Democrats[edit]

Farron's first speech at the Liberal Democrat September 2015 Conference in Bournemouth was praised in the press.[15]

Political positions[edit]

Among political observers, Farron is widely seen as being of left-leaning political position.[16][17][18][19] Although he is typically seen as being on the left of the Liberal Democrats, he usually self-identifies as being of a centrist political position, also referring to himself as a liberal. On 13 May 2015, in an interview with BBC Radio 4's The World at One, he said that the centre of British politics was "where we need to be".[20]

Policy as Lib Dem Leader[edit]

In August 2015, Farron identified seven campaigning priorities for the Liberal Democrats. These were rural affairs, the EU referendum, mental health, immigration, civil liberties, the green economy, and housing.[21]

Under-occupancy penalty[edit]

Farron was one of only two Liberal Democrats to vote against the under-occupancy penalty (also known as the bedroom tax) in 2012.[6]

Education[edit]

In December 2010, he voted against increasing the cap on undergraduate university tuition fees from £3,000 to £9,000.[22] Referring to Nick Clegg's earlier pledge not to raise fees—and the previous long-standing Liberal Democrat policy of abolishing them—he said: "Integrity is important. You must not only keep your word but be seen to keep your word. You can say no."[23]

Migration[edit]

He was the first senior British politician to back the EU proposal for a quota to take in refugees during the Mediterranean crisis. He called for the UK to accept up to 60,000 non-EU refugees to help with the influx. He attended the Refugee solidarity march in London in September 2015 and gave the opening speech.[6] In the 2016 Liberal Democrat Spring Conference, Farron accused the government of cowardice and heartlessness over their current refugee policy.[24]

Representation of women and minorities[edit]

Farron has said that 50% of target seats will be represented by women and 10 per cent of target seats will be represented by black, Asian and minority ethnic (BME) candidates.

Farron's appointment of party spokespeople was applauded for its diversity with 12 women and 10 men given positions. Women also took high ranking roles such as defence and economics spokesperson.[6][25]

LGBT rights[edit]

He voted in favour of allowing marriage between two people of same sex at the second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill but he voted not to timetable the debate on the Bill, which would have made it much more difficult to pass had the House of Commons agreed with his position;[26] and he was absent for the vote for gay marriage on the third reading of the Bill.[27] In 2014 he voted in favour of extending the right to same sex marriage to Armed Forces personnel outside the United Kingdom.[28] He currently holds a 90.4% rating on the issue of same sex marriage according to the website Public Whip.[28]

During an interview with Cathy Newman for Channel 4 News in 2015 (following Farron's leadership success), Farron avoided a question from Newman on his personal beliefs regarding same-sex relations, saying that his "views on personal morality [didn't] matter", adding that to "understand Christianity is to understand that we are all sinners".[29] In response, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said that:

For a Liberal, I thought his position seemed incredibly illiberal. Look, I don't think you should condemn someone or feel they're not fit for office just because they have religious faith. I'm a practising Anglican. I happen to be a liberal kind of Anglican, rather than a conservative evangelical, which it appears Tim Farron is. It seems to me he's pretty out of step with his own party even though they've just elected him leader.[30]

In 2007 he voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which for the first time imposed a general restriction on businesses discriminating against people on the grounds of sexual orientation.[31] However, in May 2015 he defended a court ruling which found that a Belfast bakery had acted unlawfully in refusing to carry out an order for a cake in support of gay marriage – saying "If you’re providing a service, that’s the key thing – you need to do so without prejudice, without discrimination against those who come through your door."[32]

Defence policy[edit]

He voted against replacing Trident with a like-for-like submarine-based nuclear weapons system.[33]

European Union[edit]

Farron strongly supports the UK's membership of the European Union,[34] but criticised David Cameron's renegotiation as "about appealing to careerist Tory MPs, who were selected by Europhobic party members, to persuade them to vote to remain".[35]

In June 2016 following the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, Farron stated that if the Liberal Democrats were elected in the next parliamentary election, they would not follow through with triggering Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union and leaving the EU ("Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements") but would instead keep the UK in the European Union.[36]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Farron has criticised Britain's close ties with Saudi Arabia. He said: "It is time to shine a light onto the shady corners of our relationship with Saudi Arabia. It is time we stood up for civil liberties, human rights and not turn a blind eye because the House of Saud are our ‘allies’."[37]

Cannabis regulation[edit]

He supports the complete legalisation of marijuana for both medical and recreational purpose, saying that "The Liberal Democrats will be releasing a report in due course that lays out the case for a legalised market for sales of cannabis. I personally believe the war on drugs is over. We must move from making this a legal issue to one of health."[38]

Personal life[edit]

Farron married Rosemary Cantley in July 2000 in Lancaster. The couple live in Milnthorpe, within the constituency Farron represents, with their two daughters (Isabella and Gracie, born in September 2001) and two sons (Jude and Laurie, born January 2004 and January 2006), the younger son being born since his election to Parliament. He is a committed Christian and says that "becoming a Christian at the age of eighteen [was] the most massive choice I have made."[39]

He is a life-long fan of the East Lancashire football club Blackburn Rovers.[40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Tim Farron elected as Leader of the Liberal Democrats". Liberal Democrats. 16 July 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Liberal Democrat Voice article on resultsLib Dem Voice
  3. ^ "Cambridgeshire campaigner becomes new President of the Liberal Democrats". itv.com. 2014-11-29. Retrieved 2015-03-22. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Prince, Rosa (16 July 2015). "Tim Farron: the Christian Lefty on course to be elected Liberal Democrat leader". The Telegraph. 
  5. ^ a b c d Perraudin, Frances (16 July 2015). "Tim Farron profile: who is the new Liberal Democrat leader ?". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Leet, Dillon (16 July 2015). "24 things you didn't know about Tim Farron". The Telegraph. 
  7. ^ House of Commons Debates for 25 May 2005Hansard
  8. ^ MP Tim Farron resigns from Lib Dem frontbenchThe Westmorland Gazette 5 March 2008
  9. ^ About usThe Beveridge Group 28 October 2007
  10. ^ "BBC News – Election 2010 – Constituency – Westmorland & Lonsdale". BBC News. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2010. 
  11. ^ "Tim Farron elected as Lib Dem president". BBC News. 13 November 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  12. ^ "Tim Farron: 'Prayer Can Heal' Letter Was A Mistake". Huffington Post UK. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  13. ^ Parker, George and Stacey, Kiran. "Nick Clegg resigns as Liberal Democrats suffer electoral catastrophe", Financial Times, 8 May 2015. (accessed 9 May 2015)
  14. ^ "Liberal Democrat leadership: Tim Farron confirms his bid". BBC News. 14 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  15. ^ White, Michael (20 September 2015). "Tim Farron plays to strengths with gaffe-free performance at Lib Dem party conference". The Guardian. 
  16. ^ Nick Clegg resigns: Lib Dems rush to replace leader with Tim Farron and Norman Lamb as potential candidatesThe Independent. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  17. ^ Tim Farron not a 'credible leader' for Lib Dems, says Vince CableThe Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  18. ^ – Leftwinger Tim Farron is now 'unstoppable' in battle to replace Nick Clegg as leader after a Lib Dem election wipeoutDaily Mail. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  19. ^ Exclusive: Tim Farron: Lib Dems will have to back Labour if they win more seats than the ToriesNewStatesman. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  20. ^ Tim Farron: Extremism proposals "authoritarian and Orwellian" – BBC Radio 4. Aired and retrieved 13 May 2015.
  21. ^ "Tim Farron unveils Lib Dem campaigning priorities". 
  22. ^ Tuition fees: How Liberal Democrat MPs voted – BBC News. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  23. ^ Tory coalition will tarnish Lib Dems for a generation, Tim Farron warnsThe Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  24. ^ Liberal Democrats (2016-03-13), Spring Conference York – Sunday, retrieved 2016-03-14 
  25. ^ "New Lib Dem spokespeople announced". libdems.org.uk. 29 July 2015. 
  26. ^ [1] – Commons Hansard 5 February 2013
  27. ^ [2] – Commons Hansard 21 May 2013
  28. ^ a b [3] – The Public Whip website
  29. ^ Wintour, Patrick (18 July 2015). "Tim Farron avoids saying whether he considers gay sex as a sin". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  30. ^ Perraudin, Frances (19 July 2015). "Lib Dem leader Tim Farron accused of 'illiberal' approach to gay rights". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  31. ^ [4] – Commons Hansard 19 March 2007
  32. ^ "BBC Question Time panel criticises 'gay cake' row bakery". PinkNews website. 22 May 2015. 
  33. ^ How Tim Farron voted on issues – They Work For You. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  34. ^ "Tim Farron challenges 'pathetic' Corbyn and Cameron on EU stance". 
  35. ^ "Tim Farron Really Thinks The UK Should Stay In The EU". The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 2016-03-14. 
  36. ^ Stone, Jon (25 June 2016). "Liberal Democrats pledge to ignore referendum result and keep Britain in the EU". The Independent. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  37. ^ "UK Government attempting to keep details of secret security pact with Saudi Arabia hidden from public". The Independent. 22 December 2015. 
  38. ^ Watt, Nicholas (2016-02-11). "Tim Farron calls for legalisation of cannabis for recreational use". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-03-19. 
  39. ^ Johnny Monro (15 May 2015). "Could Tim Farron finally quash the myth that Christianity and Liberalism don't mix?". Christian Today. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  40. ^ "Farron fury at Rovers owners Venkys". www.thesun.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-01-15. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Tim Collins
Member of Parliament
for Westmorland and Lonsdale

2005–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Baroness Scott of Needham Market
President of the Liberal Democrats
2011–2015
Succeeded by
The Baroness Brinton
Preceded by
Nick Clegg
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
2015–present
Incumbent