Spring Conference seems like such a long time ago now all those weeks ago I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview Party President Tim Farron. Here is my report of the interview which was originally posted at the Libertine, there you can also find the other three bloggers' interviews :)
When I saw that Liberal Youth wanted bloggers to interview Tim Farron I was more than a little bit up for it, I got an ‘opportunity’ to interview David Miliband through my university magazine and he turned up quite late so in the end I didn’t get to ask a question at all. I love following Tim on Twitter and it’s fantastic that he takes the time to respond to people on an individual basis so I was definitely interested. ‘Blogger’ isn’t maybe the word for me though, my blog is a site a shout at once a month when some issue has gotten me angry then I forget about it for another three weeks. Luckily I was asked if I’d do it anyway so I couldn’t really say no!
Four folks all asking questions when you only have half an hour – Tim’s a busy guy at the best of times, never mind at Spring Conference with the country’s media watching – doesn’t give you a lot of time to ask your questions but I got to asked two; one that had political significance and related to an article Tim had written in previous day in the Guardian and one that was more about Tim as a person.
Tim’s article said that the Liberal Democrats need to stop apologising so following on from that I asked on where Lib Dems should be looking forward or back, I can safety say that Tim’s answer was the fully expected ‘bit of both’. "This is an opportunity to do things, and to change things in a very positive sense…I look at our flag ship policy [raising the income tax threshold] that I’m pretty sure going to get delivered and quicker…My great fear in all of this is that even that news gets swamped."
I think Tim taps into the feeling that a lot of people in the party have is that whilst we are in government doing brilliant things for people it gets overshadowed by some of the not so popular things that the government does or things that are beyond government control, Liberal Democrats seem to get the blame but not the credit.
We have to be mindful that Labour have a narrative to try and pitch us as being weak and keeling over in front of the Tories which isn’t true. And this is something I’ve encountered on several occasions, people are quick to criticise us for being the Tories’ whipping boys but when you explain to them our policies in government, both what we’ve done so far and our plans for the future, they are quite often receptive to them.
My second question to Tim asked what his proudest achievement as Party President had been so far. I expected him to name a policy he supported but was quite surprised that his first choices were the new HQ and the appointment of a new Chief Executive. These are, in his own words, “geeky” choices but they are clearly things he is proud of and he went on to say the bit of the job he enjoys most is “just getting out there, and knocking on doors and lifting spirits”. He told a story of going out campaigning with councillors and MSPs who lost their jobs in 2011 but who are still hard at work campaigning for the Liberal Democrats and it was obvious how proud he is of the grassroots campaigners who made the party what it is and who, by and large, are very supportive of him.
One of the great things about Tim as a Party President is that he is so approachable and willing to take time out of his undoubtedly busy schedule to talk to four Liberal Youth bloggers around a cramped table under the stairs at the back of a conference centre. We can only hope he remains as approachable and eager to reach out to all wings of the party in the future.