Tim Farron delivered his first speech to a Lib Dem Conference as leader of the party. In it he called on the millions of liberals in Britain to become Liberal Democrats and join the party.
After a witty “that time I was in a band” anecdote, Farron got down to business: the Lib Dem’s past, present and future.
Farron began by quoting former party leader, Nick Clegg: “This is a very dark hour for our party, but we cannot and will not allow decent liberal values to be extinguished over night. Fear and grievance have won. Liberalism has lost. But it is more precious than ever.”
As Farron acknowledged his party’s loss, he confidently claimed that the last 5 years were not a dreadful mistake, but rather a unification factor. 20,000 new party members have joined since then.
Farron confessed:“Five tough years for us, but five tougher months for Britain since. Since May, the government has threatened the human rights act, demonised refugees, penalised working families, and abandoned green energy. But --”
With a light-hearted reference in the midst of powerful delivery, Farron quoted the singer, Joni Mitchell:
“-- Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Except, we are not gone. We may not be able to change our country now from the top-down, but we can change it from the bottom-up. We must grow. We must thrive. We must rebuild.”
Farron recognised that one of the party’s main faults is that voters sometimes find it difficult identifying the Liberal Democrats’ values.
He bluntly stated: "We lost because people didn’t know who we are. We are Liberals.” Tim defined the liberals: “So what makes a liberal? A liberal is someone who looks for the best in people, not the worst. We believe that everyone is of equal value, and people always achieve more together, than they do when their at each other’s throats.”
Farron addressed those suffering from lack of affordable housing, commanded Britain to take their share of refugees in, pledged to continue to repair the economic deficit, while not putting it on the backs of those struggling to make ends meet, and enforced the need for green energy.
Tim concluded: “If you reject the politics of blame and separation. If you say Britain is best, when Britain is together. If you say Britain is best when it is outward looking, modern, and inclusive. Then guess what? You’re a Liberal. Embrace that diagnosis.”
For the future of the party, the Lib Dem leader left the audience with one statement: “My fellow liberal democrats, there’s never been more space for us, never been more need for us, never been a bigger challenge for us. Against all the odds we have just been given the chance to accept center stage. We will accept that role. It is time for liberal democrats to win again.”