Farron's 'forceful' conference speech seen as leadership bid by commentators (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Farron's 'forceful' conference speech seen as leadership bid by commentators
WESTMORLAND MP Tim Farron gave a tub-thumping speech at the Liberal Democrat conference.
Some political commentators viewed it as a 'coded announcement' of his intention to stand in any leadership contest against deputy PM Nick Clegg.
Despite some polls putting the party fourth behind UKIP, the Lib Dem president delivered an upbeat assessment of their progress since 2010.
“You have changed things, you change them every day,” said Mr Farron, in Glasgow for his 25th Lib Dem conference.
“You increased the state pension by the biggest amount ever. You kicked Trident into the long grass. You won a 5.2 per cent increase in welfare benefits.
"You doubled the number of apprenticeships, you scrapped ID cards. You are realising the dreams of generations of Liberals.”
He added: “We owe it to ourselves and to our country to revive (William) Beveridges’ legacy, to extend his legacy, to have the audacity to go over the heads of the other two parties to the people in our country and stake out a new consensus that says that Britain can be prosperous, can be innovative, can be successful and Britain can be generous, decent and fair.
“William Beveridge named the problems that Britain faced, the five giant evils: Squalor, idleness, want, ignorance and disease. And then he named the solutions: state schools, the NHS, decent homes, welfare and full employment. A consensus that put human dignity first, a consensus that government must never wash its hands when it could roll up its sleeves.”
Daily Mail political sketchwriter Quentin Letts described Mr Farron’s reference to a ‘new consensus’ as the MP signalling his intention to stand against Mr Clegg and potentially form a coalition with Labour in the event of a hung parliament post May 2015.
“Not even Gordon Brown back in the days of Tony Blair’s premiership was this unsubtle,” observed Mr Letts.
Politics UK described the speech as Mr Farron in ‘full attack dog mode’ while The Guardian said it was ‘forceful.’
The Daily Telegraph’s political blog diarist - described Mr Farron as ‘almost certain to stand in any leadership contest’.
However in a list of the Telegraph's 50 most important Lib Dems, Mr Farron had dropped from third to fifth.
A poll of 300 Lib Dem councillors found that 38 per cent would want Vince Cable as the next leader with over a quarter backing Mr Farron.
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