Faced with a potential putsch, Farron leaves behind a party which faces a long fightby Miranda Green / June 15, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Nothing in his leadership of the Liberal Democrats became Tim Farron so ill as his leaving of it. Hustled into going by what looked to be the start of a putsch, he issued a lengthy farewell statement just as the full horror of the Grenfell Tower fire was sinking into the national consciousness.
The timing was not his choice, his team insists. The unexpectedly respectable Liberal Democrat showing on election night—50 per cent more MPs looks OK on one of the party’s infamous bar charts—should have meant a more measured handover. Farron can be proud that he has delivered 11 other MPs from whom to choose a successor, and they are no longer all white men. Jo Swinson has a good chance of becoming the first female Lib Dem leader.
But at some point, a departure had become inevitable. Some found Farron’s evangelical Christian beliefs incompatible with a role as figurehead for a party founded on principles of dignity and equality. Others (far fewer, I would guess) saw his stubborn defence of private religious faith as a courageous rejection of contemporary conformity. Either way, the “gay sex thing,” as politicos tend to call it, was damned confusing to voters and messed up the Lib Dem campaign.