Tim Farron has launched a manifesto for his Liberal Democrat leadership campaign, promising to make sure the party “survives and then thrives”.
''I am ready to lead us in the fight of our lives to make certain that our party survives and then thrives,” writes the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, adding: “Britain needs the Liberal Democrats, but that is no good if Britain doesn’t know that.”
Fallon is the bookmakers’ favourite to replace Nick Clegg, who resigned as leader this month after the party lost 48 of 56 MPs at the general election, its worst poll performance since it formed from the merger of the Liberal party and the SDP in 1988.
“Our comebacks in the past underGrimond, Steel and Ashdown give us confidence that we will rise again, and soon,” writes Farron, referring to former Liberal and Lib Dem leaders. “But those comebacks were the result of hard work, campaigning and an ambitious strategy.”
Farron, a key figure on the left of the party who is continues to distanced himself from the politics of the coalition, adds: “As Nick Clegg said when he resigned, liberalism ‘is more precious than ever and we must keep fighting for it … there is no path to a fairer, greener, freer Britain without British liberalism showing the way’.”
Farron outlines the four main objectives for his leadership as:
- Active, ambitious, liberal government to create a new economy
- Leading a national campaign to tackle Britain’s growing housing crisis
- Openness and internationalism
A former party president, Farron is thought to be the frontrunner owing to his popularity with grassroots activists. He won 52% of the vote in his constituency in the general election and was a vocal opponent of the coalition’s tripling of tuition fees.
The leadership contest is shaping up to be a head-to-head battle between Farron and Norman Lamb, the MP for North Norfolk and former care minister.
Lamb, a former employment lawyer, is more aligned with the record of the coalition government. He is considered a centrist and served as parliamentary private secretary to Clegg from May 2010 to February 2012.
To get on the Lib Dem leadership ballot, a candidate must have the endorsement of 200 members from 20 local party organisations as well as 10% of the parliamentary party. After nominations close on 3 June, members will cast their ballots under an alternative vote system and the winner will be announced on 16 July.
This article was written by Frances Perraudin, for theguardian.com on Friday 29th May 2015 16.32 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010