Nigel Quinton was the Liberal Democrat candidate in South West Hertfordshire in 2015, and you can find out more about him on his own site. If you want to write a guest post about why you’re supporting Tim for leader, please get in touch!
It is difficult isn’t it? Reduced to eight MPs after the worst election result since I don’t know when, and now I have to choose between the two MP’s I admire most (no offence Nick, Alistair, Tom, Greg, Mark and John). Tim and Norman are both exceptionally gifted campaigners, and both exceptional role models, and both very definitely true liberals.
But that says it all doesn’t it? The fact that I can list all of our MP’s in one short parenthetic note. The party faces extinction if we do not work incredibly hard to survive and re-grow. Many have already written us off. Thankfully, 20,000 new members this year tells a more positive story, but we should not let that fool us. It will be a hard road back.
And actually it is not just about the 2015 result. It was the same in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011. The scale of our decline through the years in coalition is truly disastrous. I sometimes think that it wasn’t until 2014 and the loss of all but one MEP that it dawned on some in Westminster how great was the scale of our retreat, but as an aspiring PPC who looked at applying for a number of seats around the country in 2012/13, it was shocking how much our bedrock of activists had hollowed out.
So I have to say that my choice for leader is going to be governed by who I believe can turn this around. Who can motivate, who can enthuse, who can communicate our message, who can truly lead? Who can see beyond the Westminster bubble, understand what needs to be done in constituencies where we no longer have any councillors, let alone an MP. So in truth, it is not that difficult a decision after all, because when you think about those priorities, Tim is the standout choice.
He also ticks my boxes on the policy priorities, although both men have strength in this respect and I hope that Norman will be a huge part of the team going forward, not least for the passion and energy he has displayed in fighting for parity of esteem for Mental Health services. Norman has argued in hustings that the party needs to win the intellectual arguments, and he is probably right, but ultimately Tim is the more realistic when he talks of the need to speak to the ‘gut’ rather than the ‘head’ if we are to regain voters’ trust and support. Just getting heard at all will be the first challenge, and we will have to campaign on issues that really mark us out and identify our values. The two that Tim has identified with which I most agree are Housing and Climate Change, both areas we could have had a far more distinctive voice in the past five years in government, and both issues on which we could and should be leading the fight.
Despite my high regard for Norman his campaign has disappointed me. The negative attacks on Tim’s Christian background are truly awful, not to mention illiberal, and as for the ‘only true liberal’ line – please don’t get me started! My father founded the Humanist and Secularist group in the party and he signed Tim’s nomination papers so if he thinks Tim’s Christianity poses no threat to our liberalism that is good enough for me. I also count myself a Humanist, but I value the views of people of all faiths and none, and the idea that someone of faith cannot lead the party is completely illiberal and nonsensical.
In contrast Tim’s campaign has shown tremendous energy, positivity, and effectiveness – just what we need to give us the best chance not just to survive but to thrive. Please join me in supporting Tim Farron as leader.