Guest post: Nigel Quinton on why he believes Tim Farron is the best choice for leader

farronforleaderNigel 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.

Guest post: Simon Banks on why he’s supporting Tim Farron for leader

I mentioned in my previous links post that I’m happy to take guest posts for Tim Farron here on the blog and Simon Banks was the first to respond. If you’d like to follow in his footsteps, then get in touch.

About Simon:

Simon joined the Liberal Party as a Cambridge History undergraduate in 1966 and the Liberal Democrats at their foundation. He’s stood in four parliamentary elections and for twelve years was a Waltham Forest councillor representing Leyton wards: for five of these he was Group Leader and handled “balance of power” for four.

He’s worked in Kenya and Finland, in race equality and for the last ten years before retirement for Essex County Council, most recently in the Voluntary Sector Unit. His voluntary interests include birds, history, the Campaign for Real Ale and the Society of Friends (Quakers). He’s a published poet.

After moving to Harwich, Simon contested two local by-elections there and he’s now in his second year as Chair of North-east Essex Liberal Democrats.

Why I’m supporting Tim Farron

After the loss of confidence and clear identity in the last few years, and the disastrous elections of 2014 and 2015, we Liberal Democrats need to rethink our approach, rediscover our essential Liberalism and come out with fire and fighting spirit to prove wrong those who say we’re finished.

We have two excellent candidates to choose from who both have a lot to contribute to the rebuilding of the party, but I believe Tim Farron is the man for the job.

He’s passionate in his love of liberty and Liberalism and his hatred of injustice and oppression. He can communicate this passion, excite and motivate. We need that. He’s a fighter and he has huge energy and charisma.

Like Norman Lamb, he’s thoughtful and perceptive. I heard him defend the role of democratic government in the modern democratic state at the SLF annual conference and I believe he understands the relationship between the state, individuals, communities, equality and liberty well in a balanced way. If there was one thing that hurt us deeply from 2010 on, it was the dishonouring of the pledge on student finance – not the issue so much as the ease with which we abandoned a firm promise. Tim Farron voted against the government on this. That makes him much less vulnerable to criticism.

But above all I expect him if he becomes leader to emulate Paddy Ashdown and go on the attack.