Farron’s sideswipe at the ethos of the party he led was truly remarkable

Jun 15, 2017 by

by Paul Goodman, Conservative Home:

Tim Farron didn’t serve in government under the coalition, and had spiky relations with his colleagues who did.  It became clear as the parliament went on that he was angling for the leadership, having prudently voted against tuition fees and the spare room subsidy.  His ambitions didn’t go down well with Vince Cable, who dismissed them two years ago, saying that Farron “would not be seen as a very credible leader, at least now. Maybe in five, 10 years time, things are different.”  Miaouw!

Now Cable is back in the Commons, together with other former Liberal Democrat Ministers, and Farron’s position was threatened.  He had gambled on seeking to mobilise last June’s Remain 48 per cent behind his party, and had met some success in local by-elections, but at least half of them had moved on, and Jeremy Corbyn’s pitch to younger voters turned out to catch their mood more effectively than Farron’s.   Yesterday, Brian Paddick, the party’s Home Affairs spokesman, resigned from the party’s front bench, citing his leader’s “views on various issues”.  No guessing what these might have been.

So it rather looks as though Farron jumped before he was pushed, with his quote from Isaac Watt in hand, but this is not to say that his decision was somehow insincere.  Far from it.  This site has no window with which to see into his soul, but it is clear from his resignation statement that the media pursuit over his views on gay sex and abortion has wounded him.  It may also be that, amidst the hazardous business of trying to balance his beliefs with his responsibilities, he feels somehow that he erred too much on the side of the latter.

Be that as it may, his resignation statement was remarkable.  “To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”  That sideswipe at his party was extraordinary.  It can be read as meaning that orthodox Christian belief and the Liberal Democrat worldview are currently incompatible.  Not all Christians will share Farron’s views – or perhaps what were once his views – on abortion and gay sex.  Liberal Anglicans, for example, would have no intrinsic problem with the second.  But churchgoers and others should ponder what he said.

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