Tim Farron is a confident man. By this time Thursday, he will be announced as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats — if the bookies are to be believed. Ladbrokes currently say he is a ‘huge odds-on certainty’ to win at 1/33, compared to 12/1 for his rival Norman Lamb. Farron graced the front seat of my Mini this morning to discuss his agenda as leader.
His first job on Friday morning is to underline the point that Lib Dems can no longer be orientated around representation in parliament. ‘Organisationally for the Liberal Democrats, the leader’s office has traditionally been in Westminster in the Houses of Parliament,’ he says. ‘Frankly it shouldn’t be, so the leaders office with me will move over to HQ’. Then, Farron will move onto the large task to ‘rebuild the movement’ and make the party’s voice in opposition heard.
‘That is all part and parcel of trying to make sure that we communicate that very simple message so amongst the things that we’ll be doing very quickly is getting across a message that is not nuanced but is all about challenging this government on the things and providing more hopeful, more colourful and more exciting alternatives.’
Moving back into double figures
Rebuilding what Farron calls the ‘movement’ is going to be hard. ‘I am not planning to tell you what numbers of MPs we may consider to be a passable result,’ he says with regards to the 2020 election, but suggests ‘more than eight I think is a reasonable assessment.’ Another measure of success will be ‘establishing a purpose’ for the party, which Farron sees as ‘getting to that position where we are in double figures, teens, high teens, maybe higher in terms of percentage points.’
Given that his party has been chastened by May’s election result, Farron hopes to use his oodles of energy for cheering up the Lib Dems.