The “Orange Booker” case for supporting Tim Farron

by Stephen Tall on June 26, 2015

orange bookYes, you read that headline right.

I’ve already said why I’m supporting Tim Farron as next Lib Dem leader.

This is a brief coda addressed specifically to those party members, like me, who are quite happy still to be regarded by the divisive label “Orange Bookers” — which I’ve previously defined as being “at ease with the role of a competitive market and who believes also in social justice”.

Party members have a clear choice at this election as each candidate is from a defined wing of the party. Norman Lamb is a “Cleggite”, Tim an “SLF-er”.

(The “inverted commas” are deliberate as each term is of course a broadbrush descriptor — and, as I pointed out here, this contest has not been notable for Big Policy debate.)

Whichever of them wins will then have to work hard to unite the party, to deploy the talents of their opponent and those who supported him. That means either will have to find ways of tacking “right” — in Tim’s case — or “left” — in Norman’s — to bring folk together.

(Again the “inverted commas” are deliberate. Let me put it this way: Tim will need to show he understands solving social problems needs more than just more public money; while Norman will need to show that personal freedoms mean less to those living lives in or near poverty.)

So the small policy differences between them will likely become smaller still whichever is elected. Especially as the loser will, I assume, be given a plum role by the winner — for example, shadow chancellor and/or heading up the party manifesto-writing group.

In that situation, then, I think the ability to be a distinctive, passionate campaigner ranks higher up my priority list of what I want from the next leader.

That’s the basis on which I, as an “Orange Booker”, will be supporting Tim, while fully recognising that he’s further to the “left” than I am — and that there will almost certainly be times when we’re on opposite sides in specific policy debates.