I am supporting Tim Farron in the election for a new president of the Liberal Democrats. This might seem a surprising choice, as I have not always been sympathetic to Tim's views on the party's policy direction and was very critical of his chapter in Reinventing the state. If it was simply a matter of voting for the candidate I am most likely to agree with on policy or general political outlook, I would probably support Susan Kramer.
There are a number of reasons, however, why at this point Tim will make a better president. In the first place, it is important that there is a broad spread of opinion in senior roles in the party. While we are in coalition with the Tories there need to be prominent voices from what for the sake of brevity we must call the left of the party in the upper reaches of the Lib Dems. This is necessary if the party is to emerge from the coalition broadly intact and united.
Secondly, there is the danger that the Lib Dems' identity is blurred in the public mind because of the coalition, and that we stop campaigning. Tim is nothing if not an effective campaigner and will help to keep the party outside parliament focused on fighting and winning elections. Thirdly, even those like myself who support the coalition know that it will be a bumpy ride, with constant attacks from the left and difficult compromises to swallow. If there are to be difficult times ahead for the party, Tim will help to cheer activists up and maintain morale.
Had Susan Kramer retained her parliamentary seat, she would have been a strong candidate for ministerial, even cabinet office. She would no doubt have done an excellent job. But for the reasons stated above, I think Tim is a better choice for party president.
I note from Tim's website that my dear wife is also supporting him, which makes for happy harmony in our household.