Wednesday 14 June 2017

Time after Tim

This evening Tim Farron has announced that he will step aside as party leader at the time of the Parliamentary recess so that the Liberal Democrats 104,000 members at last count can have a say in the new leader.

In his resignation statement Tim says:

"From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith. I've tried to answer with grace and patience. Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.

"At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again - asked about matters to do with my faith. I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.

"A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment."

I did come out in support for Tim's bid to become leader very soon after the last general election. Indeed I had written to him as soon as I got back to Northern Ireland after that horrible night two years ago to encourage him to stand.

It is a sad day for our society and our Liberal Democrat party if someone of faith does not consider he is able to lead the party and be true to both. Long before Tim stood as leader I did have discussions with him about his faith and the work on LGBT+ issues that I was working on.

As a fellow Christian but also a gay man I was convinced then, as I am now, that Tim Farron is no homophobe and in no way stands in the way of LGBT+ rights. Indeed at every step of the way he has backed every reform wholeheartedly. I was ashamed with the way the media and especially Cathy Newman would continue to drag up question they dared not ask the rectors daughter with a record of voting against LGBT+ advancement who resides at Number 10.

For the past 2 years I have been proud to be one of the Lib Dem cockroaches that Tim mentioned early in his leadership. One of those who would be hard to kill off as we started to fight back.

I am sad that he felt the need to step down and list his faith as one of the obstacles he saw in leading our party. I wish him well in the future and for the moment while I have my own idea who should be next I would encourage all members to think carefully about who can continue to lead the fight back our party still needs.