Tim farron

Tim Farron’s fake Twitter army

Twitter may not be the real world, but it sure does set the conversation in Westminster. Commentators once spoke of ‘the ground war’ of activists on the ground and the ‘air war’ of broadcast interviews, but increasingly social media is where battles are fought and won. This week an audit in the States found that nearly half of Joe Biden’s 22.2 million Twitter followers are bogus, according to a study by software firm SparkToro which reported that 49.3 per cent of the president’s followers are ‘fake followers’. SparkToro has defined ‘fake followers’ as ‘accounts that are unreachable and will not see the account’s tweets (either because they’re spam, bots, propaganda, etc. or because

Tim Farron’s Christmas roast

Christmas is a time for tradition and nowhere embraces it quite like Westminster. If you work in a building that looks like Hogwarts, it’s no surprise that MPs and ministers are keen to celebrate the festive customs, be that spending quality time with your (ever-growing) family like Boris or hanging out the £8 Big Ben decorations on the tree like Liz Truss. But in recent years a new-tradition has developed in SW1. Whereas once the Tory great and good would spend Boxing Day on the traditional hunt, these days another fox-related ritual has been established: the annual mockery of Jolyon Maugham QC. For it was two years ago today that the Babe Ruth

Tim Farron just can’t escape gay sex

What does Tim Farron think about gay sex? Like Ken Livingstone’s repeated reluctance to discuss Hitler, the former Lib Dem leader has never really offered his views on the subject. This time a year ago, for instance, he was so busy talking about all the things his party was putting into its general election manifesto that there was just never time for the matter to creep into interviews. He’s never avoided questions on gay sex, or changed his views on gay sex, or offered formulations which sound as though he loves gay people (just not in The Way) but actually mean he doesn’t think they should be having gay sex.

Vince Cable’s conference speech, full text

It is with a real sense of pride that I stand before you as leader of the Liberal Democrats. First of all, I’d like to put on record my thanks to my predecessor, Tim Farron. He hands over a Party, which is larger, stronger and more diverse than the one he inherited. He stood up for refugees whose plight the government had shamefully ignored. He established our very clear identity as the only real, undiluted pro-European party. We are all hugely indebted to him. It’s good, today, to be amongst friends. So please forgive me if I start by addressing people who are not yet our friends, but whom we might persuade.   People who say they

Can leading politicians get away with opposing abortion and gay marriage?

What can politicians with socially conservative beliefs expect from public life? Is there now a faith glass ceiling under which lurks would-be party leaders whose views on abortion and homosexuality are just too unpalatable for voters? If there is one, Jacob Rees-Mogg might have a good chance of telling us where it is located. The alleged contender for the Tory leadership told Good Morning Britain today that abortion was ‘morally indefensible’ in any circumstances and that he opposed same-sex marriage because ‘marriage is a sacrament and the decision of what is a sacrament lies with the Church not with Parliament’. William Hill has already cut the North East Somerset MP’s

Tim Farron goes rogue

Last week, Sir Vince Cable was appointed – unchallenged – as leader of the Liberal Democrats. While some in the party would have preferred a younger leader or at the very least a two-horse race, there is one thing they can all agree on: Cable comes with less baggage than his predecessor. There is a general consensus that the party’s ‘liberal’ appeal was not helped in the election by Tim Farron spending so much time talking about how gay sex and abortion fitted in with his Christian faith. But is it too early for the Lib Dems to breath a collective sigh of relief? A little (yellow) bird tells Steerpike that there is concern

Theresa May will be feeling the heat at today’s PMQs

What a very different atmosphere the House of Commons Chamber will have today for its first PMQs since the election. In the week before Parliament dissolved, Tory MPs were in a most obsequious mood, reciting the ‘strong and stable’ slogan that Theresa May started her campaign with, and even telling the Prime Minister that ‘I am confident that the country will be safe after the election under strong and stable leadership’ (sadly Peter Lilley, who made this prediction, stood down at the election and so is not in Parliament to offer his insight into how he feels about the state of the country now). It will be interesting to see

What should party leaders be allowed to believe?

‘If he can’t be in politics,’ the Archbishop of Canterbury tweeted last week after Tim Farron resigned the leadership of his party, ‘media & politicians have questions.’ So prelates now think complex theological concerns can be despatched within the Twitter limit of 140 characters. They cannot. Let me now unpack Dr Welby’s abbreviated consideration of this subject and examine what’s behind it, because the subject is of profound importance —and not only for Christians. Nobody has said Mr Farron can’t be in politics. He has been returned as MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale with the support of 26,686 voters. Farron himself, however, has doubted he should be leader of a

Could Vince Cable be the Lib Dems’ answer to Jeremy Corbyn?

There was a time when progressives thought that politics had become too much of an old boys’ club. In the place of ageing male politicians, liberals called for more women and ethnic diversity in politics. However, times are a’changing. After Jeremy Corbyn defied all expectations in the snap election by hoovering up 40 per cent of the vote, the Lib Dems could have found their own pale, male and stale answer to Corbyn: Vince Cable. The 74-year-old announced this morning that he is running to replace Tim Farron as Lib Dem leader. Cable said he was ready ‘to commit my energy, enthusiasm and experience to the task of leading the Liberal Democrats through

Tim Farron’s tormentors ought to be ashamed of themselves

The resignation of Tim Farron has left a bad taste in the mouth, don’t you think? There were a number of reasons why he was an unconvincing leader: the puppyish demeanour, the want of eloquence, style or confidence – even if you agree with him about Brexit, but they weren’t the reasons why he resigned. He was quite clear: the reason was “I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader,” he said in a televised statement. To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully

Theo Hobson

Embracing liberal Christianity can lead the Lib Dems out of irrelevance

In a sense it was the Liberal Democrats who did worst in this odd election. For the point of this party is to attract progressives who find Labour too dogmatic. And in the past two years Labour has been taken over by old-fashioned socialist dogma. It was the perfect opportunity to create a huge base of homeless New Labour voters. And then came Brexit, doubling this golden opportunity, for the Liberal Democrats were the main party of Brexit-scepticism. Why was the chance missed? Maybe English voters can only really believe in the two main parties, when it comes to governing. In fact, most of us find one of these parties

Isabel Hardman

It’s not Tim Farron who is illiberal: it’s society

Was Tim Farron’s resignation as Liberal Democrat leader inevitable? He seems to suggest so, saying in his striking resignation statement that it felt ‘impossible’ to be a political leader and live as a committed Christian.  He spent much of the election campaign stuck in a strange political special of the Moral Maze, endlessly cross-examined about his beliefs on issues such as gay sex and abortion. He argued that religious beliefs are not relevant in a political context, telling Sky during the campaign that ‘the measure of a Liberal is someone who protects other people’s rights, no matter what your personal position is’. Many in his party admired him for this.

Tim Farron quits as Lib Dem leader

Tim Farron has resigned as Liberal Democrat leader. The Liberal Democrats did make a net gain of four seats but this was far lower than what they had been hoping for; early on in the campaign Farron talked about his desire to double the number of Lib Dem MPs. At the same time, their share of the popular vote fell half a percentage point—with them now down to a mere 7.4% share. Given that these were uniquely promising circumstances for the party, they were the only UK-wide party opposed to Brexit, these elections results were particularly disappointing for them. Farron’s leadership style has received much of the blame for their

The Christian views of Theresa May and Tim Farron are way below the radar. And that’s how they like it

There’s a mischievous, not to say malicious, Twitter photograph of Theresa May circulating this morning. It shows her sporting shoulder pads and severely slicked-backed boyish hair, campaigning in the 1987 general election. On top of it someone has added the words: ‘Curbing the promotion of lesbianism in Merton’s schools starts with girls having male role models in their lives’. Did she say it? No one can source the quote. But Mrs May, then as now a weekly churchgoing Anglican, did vote against the repeal of Section 28 in 2000. In those days she was an opponent of same-sex marriage, as was Tim Farron, also a weekly churchgoer. Both the Prime

Tim Farron on the ropes in Andrew Neil interview – ‘you’re a populist who’s not popular’

Tonight it was Tim Farron’s turn to take centre stage in the last instalment of the Andrew Neil interviews. Unfortunately for the Liberal Democrats, his performance could also be described as the worst of all five interviews. The Lib Dem leader repeatedly clashed with the broadcaster as he ducked out of questions, filibustered and squirmed while attempting to explain his party’s position on the EU, security and cannabis legalisation. With the Liberal Democrats promising a ‘second referendum’ on the final Brexit deal (while insisting they ‘respect’ the EU referendum result), Neil asked Farron what Britain’s exit from the EU ought to look like. However, Farron struggled to explain how this should differ at

Andrew Neil interviews Tim Farron: full transcript

AN: Tim Farron, this election’s about electing MPs to sit in the British parliament, but you’re fighting on a manifesto which advocates UK laws being made in Brussels, having no control over immigration policy and for Britain to stay under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Why? TF: The Liberal Democrats are campaigning in this campaign to trust the people, and we know that people voted to leave the European Union last June. I grew up with, you know, people who voted to leave. I completely respect those who did. Obviously a whole different view. The issue now is how do we move forward? And we know that

Nick Hilton

The Spectator Podcast: General shambles

On this week’s episode we look ahead to the General Election, now just days away, and ask whether Theresa May might conceivably have blown her chances, or if Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister is still as unlikely as ever. And, for some light relief, we also be consider the role that handwriting plays in our digital society. First, the British public will be heading to the polls in just a week’s time, so we took a moment to reflect on the campaign so far. In his cover piece this week, James Forsyth decries the state of this election, saying that it has left Theresa May, particularly, in a weakened state. James joins

Gary Lineker to the rescue

Last month, Rachel Johnson managed to create a mini furore when it transpired that she had joined the Liberal Democrats. Given that the Mail on Sunday columnist has only ever voted Conservative in elections, the news came as a surprise to many — not least her brother Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary. But has Rachel already got cold feet about her new home? In this week’s issue of The Spectator, Johnson gives reason to believe that she’s not completely loyal to the Liberal Democrats. She says that she recently got talking to Gary Lineker — aka ‘the people’s snowflake’ — who she decided is the ‘only proper opposition now’: ‘At

Have the Lib Dems learned the wrong lesson from the SNP?

That the Tories would enjoy this general election campaign and Labour would spend it alternating between abject misery and total panic was a given from the moment Theresa May announced she wanted to go to the polls. More of a surprise has been how uncomfortable the Liberal Democrats have looked so far. Tim Farron has spent far too much time defending and then apparently recanting various unpopular beliefs. The party is averaging nine per cent in the polls. One analysis suggests they could end up with fewer than the nine seats they currently hold. What’s going wrong? Aside from Farron’s awkward media encounters over his religious beliefs, the party may

Is Tim Farron prepared to defend any of his beliefs?

Are there any matters of principle, do you reckon, that Tim Farron isn’t prepared to give up on under pressure from a television journalist? After caving under repeated questioning from Channel 4’s Cathy Newman (how brave, Cathy!) to declare that he does not, in fact, consider homosexual acts to be sinful, he’s now had to conform again, this time on abortion. In an interview with ITV, he said he strongly believed that ‘when procedures takes place, it should be safe and it should be legal,’ and supported the law as it stands. Pressed on his personal view, he said: ‘Again, what one believes in one’s personal private faith is just