Tim Farron in outspoken and honest interview shock!

by Stephen Tall on March 8, 2013

Tim Farron speaking - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsAn interview with Tim Farron is never a dull one, that’s for sure. I found that out when I spoke to him for the party magazine, Ad Lib, last month — prompting the headline, Lib Dem brand ‘tainted by Tories’ (£), in The Sunday Times.

Today’s he’s in the headlines for an interview in The House magazione with Paul Waugh and Sam MacRory in which he likens Lib Dem MPs to ‘cockroaches’ (hard to get rid of) and ‘nutters’ (because of how hard they work and campaign). He’s also pointed out the obvious: that however buoyed we all are by the win in Easleigh, we face an uphill task as a party:

The party is in a critical state. We may well be cockroach-ish, but we shouldn’t take that for granted. One day someone will stand on us if we are not careful. We shouldn’t assume our survival is guaranteed. Nick’s a good leader, a very, very popular leader within the party and nobody else has had to withstand the kind of pressure that he has and the scrutiny, and whoever was in that position would have to be dealing with all that and I think he’s dealt with it brilliantly.

The language is colourful: that’s Tim for you. He could give dull, measured interviews that are risk-free. But it’s not his way. And I don’t think many activists would want him to be anything other than himself. It is precisely because Tim is un-spun, a straight-talker who takes his role as ‘honest broker’ between the party’s membership and its leadership seriously, that he’s popular. Whether that schtick is one that would work as well as leader is a question he’ll need to think hard about, assuming he one day wants to be leader (and I think he does).

Anyway the interview is a terrific one, well worth reading in full: here’s the link. He talks about Eastleigh, the Rennard allegations, tactical voting, the party’s lack of women MPs — and the Tories:

What David Cameron has not understood, what William Hague got so wrong, is that saying things that the man in the pub tends to chime with doesn’t win you an election. Because those people when they’ve sobered up realise it sounds ridiculous. The other thing is UKIP prove that their vote is not just about Europe at all. It’s a general discontented, broadly right wing but not exclusively, protest vote. So Cameron is fighting the wrong issues.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.