James Forsyth

Farron brings the hall to its feet

Farron brings the hall to its feet
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For Lib Dem modernisers there are few more depressing sights than how conference reacts to a Tim Farron speech: he serves up social democratic red meat and they absolutely lap it up.

Farron, the party president, delivered one anti-Tory jibe after another. He declared that the government would be an ‘absolute nightmare without’ the Liberal Democrats in it, boasted that Nick Clegg was ‘leading the opposition’ as well as being deputy Prime Minister and accused the Tories of believing it was ok for the super-rich not to pay tax. There were also a slew of attacks on ‘the reactionary Tory drivel’ that the Tories have supposedly sprouted since the riots.

What so scares the liberals around Clegg about Farron is just how well he connects with the party activists. The party loves him in a way that it doesn’t Clegg. If there ever was to be a leadership contest, he would be a formidable candidate. But the direction in which he would lead the Liberal Democrats would be a disaster. He would take them to the left and it is hard to see how there’s a future for them in being the second social democratic party in British politics.