Here's where he stands on some of the issues facing the UK
Yesterday Tim Farron beat former care minister Normal Lamb to become the new leader of the Lib Dems. He has an unenviable job, with the party struggling to form a new identity after the coalition years and the humiliation of the general election.
Farron, the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, won with 56 per cent of the vote. He is fairly well equipped to move the Lib Dems away from memories of the coalition, having voted against raising tuition fees, the Bedroom Tax and Trident replacement.
Here we take a quick look at where he stands on some of the other issues facing the UK today:
“Wrap yourself in the flag if you like, stick two fingers up at our friends and trading partners, leave the security and prosperity of Europe and cast us off on to the choppy seas in nothing more than a rowing boat.
“Do that, but do not dare call yourself a patriot. There is nothing patriotic about risking 3m jobs; nothing patriotic about risking our ability to fight crime and beat climate change; nothing patriotic about risking 70 years of peace and security.”
“Right to buy without replacement has had an appalling impact on provision of social housing in this country.
“The difference between us and our Conservative colleagues, and of course Blair and Brown let’s not forget, is that we also believe in the right to build and the importance of building at least as many homes as you sell.”
“We should support [taking part in an EU-wide quota system for refugees] because we are decent people. Our party should not have a mixed message about this. We should not turn people away.”
On the Human Rights Act
“There are some things no government should ever be allowed to do to anyone, because the rule of law is the bedrock of freedom and prosperity, and because people are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect whatever their nationality. There’s a major political battle coming over the Human Rights Act, which lies at the heart of Britain’s commitment to human rights. Liberal Democrats should lead the fight to defend it.”
On intervention in Syria
“In the Isis-occupied territories of Syria and Iraq, for the UK and the US to be seen to be directly involved – particularly in Syria – just plays into the hands of the Islamic fundamentalists who abuse Islam and indeed murder so many Muslims and so many other people in and around their territories. Let’s not play into their hands.”
On small businesses
“As we enter the new parliament, I want Liberal Democrats to stand up loudly and clearly for small businesses. We should push for a third of government deals to go to SMEs over the next five years. That’s an estimated £15bn of government contracts straight to people who don’t have the weight of a global corporation behind them.”
On welfare reform
‘It’s causing misery, maybe not as much as the Labour Party says it’s causing, but a lot of misery.”
Farron is seen by many as a risk-taker which could be just what the party needs, although the evangelical Christian inflection of some of his views (he voted for longer waiting times for abortion, for example) could be a point of concern if the Lib Dems really want to reestablish themselves as a credible voice of liberalism.
Still, electing a new leader is the first step in the Lib Dems’ mountainous journey to recovery post-election. It is important for our democracy that we have a strong third party in parliament, and I hope that the new Lib Dems will make wise choices as they take on their new shape.
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.