Thursday, 16 September 2010

Why I'm backing Tim

Tim - campaigning in the North East a few years ago
The Liberal Democrats are a party that has a lot of internal democracy, as you might expect. The two positions that all members vote on is Leader and President. Most people know who the Leader is and what they do but the President has been more of a strange post. The President has the job of motivating and working with the party but also of reflecting grass roots feeling to the party establishment.

In the current political climate I think the President also has a role in communicating a clear Lib Dem position that is clear from the coalition perspective. The post has been held by party establishment figures (Simon Hughes MP and Charles Kennedy MP) and also well known activists (Navnit Dholokia and Ian Wrigglesworth for example) and has seemed to change from being a external facing post to beong more of an internal position similar to Tory party chairman (although much more democratic of course!)

Ros Scott, the outgoing president, has done a great job but has said she will not be standing again because the party needs a different type of President. I was really pleased to hear today that Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, is standing for the post. I am backing him. Here are a few reasons why:

- My parents now live in his constituency and I've seen how he has helped turn around a "true blue" constituency into a Lib Dem seat with a large majority (over 12,000) He has done this by working hard all year round and by being a great local activist. The local coucnil has gone Lib Dem too and the local party is energised and enthusiastic about selling the message to local people. If any of this approach can rub off on other areas, we will be doing well.

- As alluded to above, he's a really, really hard worker who is an instinctive Liberal. He supports the coalition but will always fight to ensure that there is a strong Liberal Democrat voice

- He is a genuinely nice guy who, despite being passionate about politics, has a lot of time for his family and for other people. I was once in London and took a workmate out for a curry with Tim and other (nameless!) politicians. She was totally uninterested in politics but Tim got her interest and she remarked what a good communicator he was.

- He is a great public speaker and motivator. At every conference he gives a speech and it strikes the right balance between funny and passionate.

- He knows the North East well, having gone to University here (he was president of Newcastle University Students Union) and having been involved in North East life (he stood for North West Durham many years ago and is an expert on the Rupali menu!). He will come over here and help us get our message across as well as communicate regional concerns to Westminster.

So I think he has the best balance between someone who can act as a touchstone for the wider party, can "walk the walk" when it comes to winning elections and will be a great voice for our cause in the media. You can support him at his Facebook page, http://tinyurl.com/36cryxd

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