News articles related to the 2017 Liberal Democrats Party Conference in Bournemouth






  • caricatures-liberal_democrat-university_fees-dr-coalition-vince_cable-thrn81_lowSorry, Vince, the centre needs big, radical ideas before it can rise again – The Guardian – 18 September – by David Boyle











Wednesday 14 June 2017 – Tim Farron quits as Liberal Democrats leader less than a week after the UK General Election


Above: Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats


Less than a week after the General Election the second party leader has quit.  The leader of the UK Independence Party, Paul Nuttall, quit the day after the election after the party’s disastrous collapse at the election. He has now been joined by the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron.  The Liberal Democrats had a better election than UKIP, gaining a handful of new seats but also losing several seats.  They came away with a final gain of four seats but their share of the popular vote dropped from 7.9% to 7.4%. Over 300 of their candidates lost their deposit, which means they forfeit the payment made to enable them to run for office as they failed to poll more than 5% of the popular vote in their constituencies.  They were seen as still being punished for their Coalition agreement with the Conservatives in the hung parliament that followed the 2010 General Election at which they had 58 MPs.  At the General Election in 2015 that number was reduced to just 8.  Tim Farron became leader in 2015 after their leader at the time Nick Clegg resigned after the disastrous election.  Mr Farron will remain as leader until his successor can be chosen.


Mr Farron said he had quit because he was “torn” between his Christian faith and the task of running a modern-day political party.  He has been criticised lately for his Christian views, such as on issues of gay sex – which he finally said wasn’t a sin after five days of relentless pressure to clarify his position on the issue.  The controversy became a distraction to the Lib Dems’ campaign during the General Election.  He had been asked four times to say whether he believed or not that gay sex was a sin, but would not answer.  It was only after being asked the question in Parliament that he said: “I do not.”   He later said he was “getting tired of this line of questioning.”  A day later at the end of April he told a BBC interviewer:


“I don’t believe gay sex is a sin.


“I take the view that as a political leader though my job is not to pontificate on theological matters.


“It seems to me that there is a General Election on at the moment, we need to be talking about big issues – health, social care, education, whether we’re in the single market or not.


“And it occurs to me really that this had become a talking point, an issue.”


He had said back in April that he didn’t hold different views in public and private but his resignation today suggests otherwise  and it  seems now that he can’t reconcile his  personal faith and beliefs with running a liberal party.  He has chosen his faith over politics and that’s fine and his right.  Indeed, I am encouraged that he has decided to quit as  I strongly believe there is no place in UK politics for expression of religion  for someone who leads a socially liberal and democratic party. It has been a great tradition in this country that for the most part our politicians – at least in the main parties – resist the need to express their faith.  There is not the need as there is in the United States, for instance, to profess your devotion to God, Jesus and the Bible in order to obtain political office.  Two of our recent Prime Ministers, David Cameron and Tony Blair, were both Christians and men of faith but neither felt the need to let everyone else know this all the time.  Mr Blair, for instance, converted to Catholicism – but did so after he left office.  Mr Cameron was asked about his faith and said that he did not feel the need to discuss such matters.  That is refreshing and despite how ingrained the Church of England is into the British State and Government it lacks the fervour with which it has consumed American politics for so long.


Mr Farron said he could have dealt “more wisely” with the issues around his faith during the General Election campaign and he insisted his decision to quit was his alone. This is perhaps a veiled reference to the resignation this morning of Brian Paddick (Lord Paddick), the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman who quit over Mr Farron’s “views on various issues.”  Lord Paddick, who was a former candidate for the Mayor of London and before that was  Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (MET), is gay and elaborated on his resignation: “I’ve resigned as shadow home secretary over concerns about the leader’s views on various issues that were highlighted during GE17.”


Undoubtedly the Lib Dems showing at the election on 8 June played a huge part in Mr Farron’s decision.  The Lib Dem peer Lord Greaves described the election as “disastrous” and said that there were parts of the country where “no-one voted for us.”  Speaking after Lord Paddick’s resignation but before his own today Mr Farron tried to put a positive spin on the poor election:


“In the last Parliament, we didn’t have any women and we didn’t feel it was right to elect a deputy in those circumstances.


“But I wanted to revive the role as it gives the party another powerful voice.


“Now a third of our parliamentary party is female and we have our most diverse group of MPs ever, I feel our MPs form a more representative group to elect a deputy leader”.


Above: Tim Farron reads his resignation statement watched by Norman Lamb (far left), a possible successor


Just a few hours later and he’s quit as leader, saying in a statement:


“The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.


“A better, wiser person may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to remain faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.


“To be a leader, particularly of a progressive liberal party in 2017 and to live as a committed Christian and to hold faithful to the Bible’s teaching has felt impossible for me.”


He added: “I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in. In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.”


Mr Farron had not been tainted by the Coalition to the extent of other Lib Dem MPs as he was not a member of the Coalition government between 2010 and 2015.  He has been a vocal opponent of Brexit, the only major party leader to be calling for a second referendum on whether the UK should actually quit the European Union (EU).  Like many he was concerned that the country was heading towards a ‘hard’ Brexit – i.e. one with no exiting trade or other deals with the remaining countries of the EU.  Although the electorate voted 54% to 48% in favour of leaving in the 2016 referendum, many have come to doubt the merits of leaving or at least a ‘hard’ Brexit.  The result of this General Election and the successes of the Labour party in stopping Theresa May’s Conservative government from securing a majority is partly proof of these doubts.   Mr Farron had hoped that his anti-Brexit stance would serve him well but the results of the General Election have shown that the electorate has swung dramatically back towards the traditional two parties – Labour and Conservative – at the expense of smaller parties such as UKIP and the Lib Dems.  The Lib Dems have also haemorrhaged their traditionally loyal young voters who have gone to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.  They may be opposed to Brexit but perhaps they haven’t forgot the treachery of the Lib Dems, led by Nick Clegg, in 2010 who went back on their pledge to not raise tuition fees by doing just that when they joined the Coalition with the Tories.  Nick Clegg was ousted from his Sheffield seat last week.




While some in his party are praising his time as leader, such as Willie Rennie- leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats – who said he had been a “dynamic and inspirational” leader, others weren’t so generous.  Former Lib Dem official Miranda Green  criticised the timing of his resignation – coming on the day of the Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington in London in which 12 people have been killed in a horrific fire that engulfed the tower block of residential flats.  She described his timing showed he was “myopic and self-obsessed.”   Here are some more reactions to his resignation:


  • UntitledTOM BRAKE on Twitter: “Very sad @timfarron has resigned as #LibDems Party Leader. Under his leadership party membership doubled and no of MPs increased by 50%.”


  • LAYLA MORAN MP on Twitter: “I thank @timfarron for the leadership he showed in his time as leader. Liberal values have never been more needed. New era for @LibDems.”


  • YOUNG LIBERALS UK on Twitter: “Tim Farron doubled our membership by 100% and MPs by 50%. Thankyou for all your hard work and rebuilding us after 2015.”


  • SAMUEL COATES on Twitter: “Lots of scorn about this. But there’s clearly more tension between frontline politics and traditional Christian views than there should be.”


  • JAMES MILLAR on Twitter: “Interestingly a senior Lib Dem told me today that not time for another man from London as leader (ie Davey) – It’s Swinson time. #LibDems.”


  • JOHN O’SULLIVAN on Twitter: “You’re right his Remoaner views cost him the election; but his Christian faith cost him the Lib-Dem leadership. Ad: No Christians Need Apply.”


  • PHILIP SIM on Twitter: “Imagine @joswinson will go straight into the conversation for possible replacement, alongside Vince Cable.”


  • LAURA KUENSSBERG on Twitter: “Strong and stable all the way UK – no govt deal yet, leader of lib Dems resigns, Corbyn reshuffles – election result not even a week old.” and “Interesting Corbyn’s reshuffle very limited – no big moves, deserved rewards for Gwynne and Lavery who ran campaign.”


  • LORD PADDICK speaking to the Guardian: “It is very sad that he feels he cannot be a committed Christian and leader of the Liberal Democrats.”


  • SEAN KEMP, former head of media for the Lib Dems: “I hoped that was going to be Tim and I feel very sorry for him. I wish he hadn’t made this decision but it was always going to be the most difficult issue for Tim as leader to balance his faith with what it means to be the leader of a liberal party in the 21st century.”


  • PETE BROADBENT, acting Bishop of London: “No-one should have to choose between their faith and politics. [it is] deeply regrettable.”


A Lib Dem source said that the resignation was “a dilemma”, but then said: “It’s an opportunity also to have a first female leader, but there are some who feel anybody as leader who was part of the coalition government would be poisonous. That’s the conundrum.”  Possible successors include Sir Vince Cable, Jo Swinson, Sir Ed Davey and Norman Lamb. 

Sources & Further Reading:






Tuesday 22 September 2015 – Media having field-day over lurid David Cameron pig story

with additional update on Wednesday 23 September 2015

The papers and social media were having a field-day today after billionaire Tory donor Lord Ashcroft made remarkable claims about Cameron’s past – including that he had inserted his penis into a dead pig’s mouth as part of a bizarre initiation ritual.

The claim was made in Lord Ashcroft’s biography of Prime Minister called Call Me Dave. He said that Cameron performed  the sexual act as part of the initiation into the Oxford dining club Piers Gaveston. Ashcroft claims the story originates from “a distinguished Oxford contemporary” of Cameron who had seen a photograph of the incident, which he called a “disgusting ritual.” The source, who is a MP, has made the allegations before and claims to know the name of the individual whohas the photograph in his keeping. Ashcroft was unable to confirm the story with the owner of the photograph but suggests that it is “an elaborate story for an otherwise credible figure to invent.”

Other claims in Lord Ashcroft’s book include one that says Cameron was a womaniser – that he would spend evenings seeking female company – something Cameron called “wooding.” Of Cameron’s alleged womanising in his Oxford days, Ashcroft said: “I was quite jealous. Most people were I imagine. I think he slept with all the good-looking girls from college.” Ashcroft also alleges that Cameron was possibly taking cocaine. He followed up claims of drug taking by the future Prime Minister made by the journalist James Delingpole – who was an Oxford contemporary of Cameron. However, Ashcroft was unable to find any hard evidence to substantiate his susipicions, but nevertheless repeated the accusations. 

Ashcroft claims that Cameron’s more “liberal” view of illicit drugs as a young MP stems from personal experience. The Lord alleges that a close relative of the Prime Minister was addicted to a class-A drug when Cameron was a young MP. He alleges that the partner of the relation acted as a drugs mule and collapsed and died in Argentina, at an airport, when “bags of narcotic burst” in their stomach.

Cameron’s liberal views on drugs were expressed when earlier in his Parliamentary career he was a member on the Home Affairs Select Committee. But since then he has toughened his stance. When a more recent Home Office report suggested relaxing the law, Cameron rejected  the findings outright.

The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman said of Ashcroft’s pig claims: “I’m not intending to dignify this book by offering any comment or any PM reaction to it.” Sources close to the PM also dismissed the ideas, saying they “did not recognise” the pig and drug accusations – but why would they know anything of it if it were true?

More potentially politically damaging allegations were also made by Ashcroft – that the Prime Minister knew of his non-dom tax status a full year before the Prime Minister claimed he first heard of his status. Ashcroft said he discussed the issue with the PM in 2009 and that the PM misled the public on the subject before the 2010 General Election.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow minister without portfolio, said there was a “serious question mark over the consistency of the Prime Minister’s statements.” He called for the PM to “immediately clarify” when he knew of Lord Ashcroft’s tax status. Meanwhile, the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the claims “perhaps shouldn’t just be allowed to disappear into the ether.”

David Cameron’s direct silence on the pig story seems to suggest either that it is untrue or demonstrates his confidence that any photo of the pig incident is either destroyed or in the hands of someone Cameron trusts or has influence over. Doubts also emerge over the veracity of Ashcroft’s allegations when you look at his “motive” for writing the book – co-written with journalist Isabel Oakeshott.

After donating millions to the Tory Party, Ashcroft expected to be rewarded with a significant position in Cameron’s Cabinet when he became Prime Minister in the Conservative-led Coaliton in 2010. However, he was only offered a junior post – which he rejected. This led to a dramatic falling out with the Prime Minister.  Ashcroft admitted that this was partly his reason for writing the book. He says that he was promised a major role, only for Cameon to phone him after the 2010 election to apologise and tell him that Nick Clegg – the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the junior party in the Coalition – had blocked his appointment. 

Ashcroft’s assumption that he would be qualified for, or would merit, a position in the Cabinet simply because of his financial contributions is outrageous. It is sadly a symbol of the corruption and moral ambiguity of many modern-day politicians.

As for the pig story. I don’t know if Ashcroft is telling porkies about the Prime Minister porking a porker. However, if Cameron was a member of the Piers Gaveston club then it would be hard to believe he didn’t take part in the club’s notorious debauchery. He was a member of the Bullingdon Club, also notorious for its behaviour, so it is not a huge leap to accept that Cameron would join the Piers Gaveston.  Photos of the group in the 1980s show members including Nigella Lawson, Hugh Grant and Nat Rothschild. They are shown in bizarre costumes looking distinctly worse for wear. 

The club largely concentrates on organising an end-of-year party where a select group of posh twats are invited. According to a recent member of the group, the party is drug-fuelled but nowhere near as bad as some people make out. He told the I newspaper: “They pick you up in a minibus, confiscate your mobile phones to avoid pictures being taken and drive you out into someone’s countryside for a massive party. Everyone gets smashed and a lot of people hook up. Everyone knows drugs are very easy to find, including hard drugs. Sometimes you’ll see people having sex in public.”   A different member of the club said: “there was some sexual debauchery at a Piers Gav party, a pig was around and people have added two and two to get five.” These two people, however, are recent members of the club so it is possible their memories of the activities of the club do not reflect the behaviour of its members twenty or more years ago when Cameron was supposed to have been a member.

Whether the allegations are true or not the discomfort they are causing the Prime Minister and Government is very real. Social media has been ablaze with pig-related  jokes and mockery of the Prime Minister. The claims of debauchery and lurid sexual acts with pigs are disturbing enough and, if true, would demonstrate his extreme poor judgement, lax morals and simple idiocy in his younger days.

The claims regarding Ashcroft’s tax status are much more serious. If true they show Cameron was lying before the 2010 General Election as to when he found out about the Tory donor’s tax status. The issue of tax avoidance was a big issue in the 2010 General Election campaign and Ashcroft’s avoidance of tax through his non-dom status was a symbol of the anger and frustration amongst the public on the issues of tax avoidance – both legal and illegal.


UPDATE: Wednesday 23 September 2015

The feud between Lord Ashcroft and the Prime Minister continued today when David Cameron cracked a “joke” at a Conservative dinner. He told his fellow diners that: “while having treatment for a minor back injury, his doctor warned him he would need an injection involving ‘just a little prick, just a stab in the back’,” according to the BBC reporter James Lansdale.

Lord Ashcroft replied on Twitter: “Good to see the PM retains his sense of humour. We must have the same doctor. I had the same in 2010 when the PM emerged.”

More accusations about Cameron have emeged in the serialisation of the book Call Me Dave by Lord Ashcroft and Isobel Oakeshott in the Daily Mail. One allegation claims he intervened in legal action against a friend who, in 2008, was being prosecuted for taking part in an illegal fox hunt. The case against him was eventually dropped on a technicality.

According to the Daily Mail, the former Tory chairman Michael Ancram has criticised Cameron over Libyia, saying that Libyia was the Prime Minister’s Iraq and that the country is more unstable now than under Colonel Gaddafi. The ex-Defence Minister Nicholas Soames has also accused the Prime Minister of “stripping (the Royal Navy) down to nothing.”

David Cameron continues to remain silent, publicly, on the allegations in Lord Ashcroft’s book.

Related comment by Simon Kelner in The Independent: “Lord Ashcroft has unwittingly shone a light on the corrupt heart of politics” at