by Andrew Emmerson
Anyone who knows my online persona is likely to understand that between myself and Tim Farron, we are two ends of the liberal microcosm. Our politics tend to clash, but we both want the same end goals. A more liberal society. So I was pleased when Harry Matthews on behalf of Liberal Youth offered myself alongside other youth bloggers the chance to interview Tim, I have to say I jumped at it, hoping I could ask Tim some difficult questions!
So alongside Emma Revell, George W. Potter and Josh Dixon, in a quiet corner of The Sage in Gateshead, huddled around a table that was clearly too low for us, and with recording devices clearly not at the ready, we managed some sort of constructive question and answer session with Tim.
So what did I ask Tim? Well I managed to get three questions in; firstly, should the government with in it’s consultations on equal marriage consider opening up civil partnerships to heterosexual couples. secondly; the leadership debates caused mass hysteria around our party last time, can we do it again and if so how? And lastly; does Tim consider himself ideologically wedded to the 50p tax rate or would he be willing to trade it for something along the idea of wealth taxes.
So what were Tim’s answers: that’s the bit I’m sure you’ve all been reading up to this point for, so I won’t keep you in suspense: let’s deal with it point by point
On civil partnerships for heterosexual couples Tim seem open minded, stating it should definitely be part of the discussion and consultation and if anybody wanted to partake in such the they should be allowed! It was a good positive start from Tim, clutching his red bull, who seemed genuinely passionate about a choice that could happen!
Secondly, I managed to ask Tim about the leadership debates. (my microphone was working by this point). His first assertion was that it’d be the same three men up on the platforms, as lead the parties now. That’s a bold choice of words if you ask me, with speculation rife about a European commissioner post for Nick in 2014 and Ed … Well Ed is Ed and just yeah. However, what Tim did say is that at the end of the day it’s just going to be three men (based on his assertion) up there. People are gong to stop and take another look at Nick, remember that he is the genuinely nice guy all over again. There according to Tim will also be the dual attack from Ed on trying to group us with the Tories and calling us failures. That line of ‘what has he done in government’ appeared this week at PMQs and could represent the line of attack up until 2015.
I think we just need to be bold in these!
One of the interesting things that did come out in Tim’s answer was that Cameron is worried, and is working hard to change the dates of debate, instead of one a night over three nights, apparently Cameron wants them in January, February & March. I’m not sure if I’ve just broken an exclusive there, but it certainly wasn’t something I was aware off. Initial thoughts are that, more air time for Ed is good for everyone else, we should approach it cautiously.
Moving on, my last question revolved around the 50p tax rate. This was based asked as to whether Tim was ideologically wedded to such. Indeed the only answer Tim could sensibly give first off was a no. However, he did go onto say he thought it a powerful symbol in times of austerity, I agree but for probably different reasons to Tim! What Tim also went onto say was that he was happy arguing for 10k, and let the Tories argue for 50p, they look like same old party of millionaires, we look like party arguing for millions. Indeed very true. Indeed Tim at one point suggested that 10k for allowance for 50p would be a good compromise! I entirely agree!
Now this point may be contentious, what Tim says is slightly muffled on my speaker because of moving around for pictures, but I think Tim says: ‘the 50p tax rate is clearly unsustainable’, maybe that’s wishful thinking that Tim would say this, but it’s clearly true. As latest receipts show, income on this tax band has been steadily declining since it was introduced. Tim then went onto laud about the good signals it sends out to the mythical hard working families and such lark, doing his best to sound like the good progressive politician he is!
Overall it was an interesting 30 minutes with Tim, he’s clearly firey and full of passion, no matter what your views one can’t deny the man his charm, wit and people skills. Something he’s clearly used to his advantage, and I hope he continues to do this. He’s a good wing man for Clegg, the left/right balance is just that within the Lib Dems with these two in charge.
So good luck to Tim, and most of all thank you!
Andrew blogs at The Yellow Bastard