Wednesday 3 June 2015

Proud to be supporting Tim Farron for leader

On the evening after the long night of the sgian dubhs I had the clarity to write about how Liberal Democrats can take the offensive on to 2020. I therefore admit that I was already looking for the general to lead us into the sound of gunfire that was still resounding in the ears of all our candidates, activists and supporters (as some used more that merely sgian dubhs).

The fact of course was that that blog post on the Friday after polling day got picked up by BBC Tees (indeed I have now been on twice since polling day) to talk about the Lib Dem Fight Back before it was really a hashtag.

Therefore on the Monday after the General Election I found myself being interviewed by Neil Green about what was happening in our party. The surge in membership, the attitude in the party and who might be the candidates in a leadership contest. Then he asked the question, who would I be supporting.

The answer was one I probably was aware of how I'd respond on that Friday. It certainly was by the following day as I'd sent an email to Tim Farron urging him to stand and also promising my support. The afternoon as I listened to the tributes in the commons I became more and more certain that I was right.

Yesterday on BBC Tees I had to talk about Charles Kennedy, so I know the emotions that those who spoke in the commons felt as they spoke, even more so those who addressed their comments to young Donald in the gallery. But I also talked about the highlights of Charles's leadership which led me to think of all the stuff he had done for the party before the big Iraq rally. The grounding was already in place ahead of the 2001 election and working towards 2005. I was ready to stand up above the parapet and be a candidate for our party before Iraq became an issue because of the passion that Charles showed for liberalism.

Therefore I know what we need know as we face the fight back, the rebuilding, the march towards the gunfire to say we ain't dead. We need someone able to enthuse that passion for liberal values, able to communicate with the established activists who are hurting, the new ones full or enthusiasm and the general public who we want to vote for us in council and devolved elections before we get to 2020.

Both Norman and Tim are Liberals to the heart, but I believe that Tim stands head and shoulders above as the one who can reach out to the voters to ensure them our values are the same as in 2010, 2005 or 2001. He is also the one who has been engaging with many of us who are stalwarts of the party who have been hurting and it seems engaging with the new members who now are over 25% of the members.

I'm backing Tim to be the leader to kick start carry on the Lib Dem fight back. I'm convinced that as I pound the streets, tap the keys and face the public or journalists that he'll be speaking the liberalism that will inspire, encourage and spark voters to turn to us again. Something that will be enhanced by the troops he is respecting, inspiring and walking alongside every step of the way.

I can't wait until I have the ballot in my hand, to give that promised support to Tim.

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