Interview with Tim Farron (Leader of the Liberal Democrats)

I am delighted to have been able to interview the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron in one of my most high-profile interviews so far. I was very interested to hear why he became a Lib Dem and what he intends to achieve as the new leader of the party.

  • How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?

“I joined the Liberal Party, as it was then, when he was 16 years old and to me young people’s involvement in politics is key to a well-functioning democracy. However, young people’s involvement in party politics is in “massive decline” and I believe that we must not make the mistake of thinking that young people are only involved in young people’s issues. We need to inspire people: nobody, and that goes for young people too, gets involved in politics unless you inspire them to do so. People vote on the basis of habit or calculation, but they join a party because somebody gets them in their gut.”

  • Did Politics at Runshaw College inspire you to become a politician?

“I did yes. It helped me understand the world and more importantly what I could do to change it.”

  • Why did you decide to join the Lib Dems?

“Because I am a liberal! I grew up in a terrace on a main road in Preston. I was brought up by my mum, often struggling to put food on the table.  I was politicised by watching Cathy Come Home. I should have been a natural Labour man.

But I wasn’t. That’s because I saw that Labour were just part of the system, small c conservatives.  2 parties happy to collude and protect the establishment, locking out people like us. I was an outsider, I wanted a party that spoke for me, that let you think for yourself, that wanted to win elections so that they could change lives not just so that they could feel self-important. 

And lives needed changing, a difference needed to be made.  I learned at first hand that nothing robs you of your freedom more than poverty and poor housing.  I also learned that dependency can stifle freedom just as much.  I saw the potential of people to change their own lives, if only we gave them the freedom to learn, freedom to earn the freedom to be the best that they can be.  I believe that Liberalism offers the solutions to fix the problems that Britain faces.”

  • What would you like to achieve as Leader of the Lib Dems?

“I hope to rebuild the party and make the case for Liberalism as strongly as I can.”

  • Do you have any funny stories from your time in politics?

“I mentioned my teenage pin up Wendy Smith of Prefab Sprout on stage one day at party conference and the next morning I find myself talking to her on Radio 4!”

tim farron leader

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Interview with Tom Brake (Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats)

Here’s my interview with the current Chief Whip and Foreign Affairs spokesman of the Liberal Democrats, Tom Brake:

  • How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?

“Very. Politics and politicians decide so many critical things; whether we go to war or how much is spent on hospitals.”

  • What do the Lib Dems need to do to be more successful in the future?

“Re-establish our liberal identity. Speak up for social justice.  Challenge the establishment parties.”

  • Following the recent devastating death of Charles Kennedy, was he someone who was respected right across the political spectrum and did he have an influence on yourself?

“Yes, his brand of easy-going almost apolitical politics is something I would like to try and emulate.”

  • Who did you think was the right candidate for the Liberal Democrats leadership?

“Supported Norman Lamb but confident Tim Farron is up to the job.”

  • Do you have any funny stories from your time in politics?

“Yes, the time I was ‘recognised’ at my local train station soon after I started campaigning to get elected as the MP for Carshalton and Wallington. As I was walking through the station, a young person said to me, ‘Are you …’ I was really chuffed because I thought I had been recognised as the candidate, but the sentence finished, ‘Are you, Jonathan from Brookside?’  Brookside was the big TV soap of the day.”

Tom Brake

Interview with Vince Cable (Former leader of the Liberal Democrats)

This evening I was delighted to complete my first interview for the blog through a phone call with Vince Cable, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats. Unfortunately the phone line was a bit faulty so the transcript may not be what Mr Cable said word-for-word.

How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?

“It is important to young people because if they don’t get involved then older people who have a different agenda will one day not have the same interests as the young. For example, older people have interests in things like pensions and forms of other expenditure that are not of benefit to younger people who themselves have an interest in things like education. They also have an interest in house prices- young people are desperate to get homes. So their interests are different. If young people don’t get involved then they will lose out. That’s the main idea of why young people should get involved. But as far as the country as a whole comes from, they need to become involved in different groups; like different parties and so on- otherwise we don’t have an influenced democracy.”

vince-cable

I also asked Mr Cable what he thinks the Lib Dems can learn from the recent election. The sound quality on this question, however, was not too great so I cannot quote him word-for-word, but he mentioned being surprised at some of their losses, particularly to the Scottish Nationals. Mr Cable felt they didn’t have the right balance against the Conservatives, who worked alongside each other in a coalition where Mr Cable felt they “set out to do the right thing in the right way.” Mr Cable also expressed his hope that the Liberal Democrats could do better in the future.