Liberal Democrat peer Brian Paddick has backed Tim Farron in the Lib Dem leadership race to succeed Nick Clegg. Paddick’s backing is more significant than that of most Lib Dem peers because Farron’s voting record on equal marriage is one of the factors which may trip him up from his front-runner status, as I wrote about in Liberal Democrat Newswire #66.
However Brian Paddick, twice Mayor of London candidate for the Liberal Democrats and who was the highest ranking openly gay police officer, is fulsome in his praise for Farron:
I am supporting Tim Farron for leader of the Liberal Democrats, because I think he is exactly the person that the party needs when you consider the position that the party is in at the moment.
Tim Farron has shown himself in being a master of connecting with activists and with ordinary members; he did a fantastic job as President of the party.
He developed links with all parts of the country, got to know people in practically every corner of the UK, coupled with the fact that he’s very enthusiastic and has loads of energy…
Tim Farron has come under a lot of criticism from people who either deliberately or simply misread Tim’s position when it came to votes in the House of Commons on equal marriage. He did ask for a change in the timetable to allow more discussion over complex issues around people who have honestly held beliefs who are currently employed as registrars, for example, who would feel very uncomfortable because it conflicts with their faith to conduct an equal marriage ceremony. He felt not enough time had been allowed in the parliamentary time belt to discuss those issues.
He has made it absolutely clear subsequently, he was specifically asked by a group of Christians, if there was a equal marriage repeal act or bill to reverse the decision he would absolutely not support that in any way shape or form.
Meanwhile, The Guardian‘s Politics Weekly podcast has taken a look at Norman Lamb’s bid for the leadership, followed by a discussion which included myself saying that the party now needs to look more to Paddy Ashdown’s time as leader than that of Charles Kennedy.
That’s because the current state of the party is very different from when Charles took over. Instead it is more akin to the post-merger disasters which nearly sunk the party at the start of Paddy’s leadership, and from which he led a remarkable recovery.