Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Are faith and English liberalism incompatible?

This evening, Tim Farron announced his resignation from leadership of the Liberal Democrats for a reason that would have put him at the top of the tree in US politics: a very public evangelical Christian faith. Mrs May can put it about that she is a vicar's daughter and vote in line with rather Old Testament beliefs, but her party was comfortable with that - at least until she made a massive electoral miscalculation. Indeed, it would be difficult for an English Conservative to lead the party without at least a token adherence to Christianity, preferably Anglicanism. Tony Blair did not hide his high church leanings, though admittedly on Alastair Campbell's advice  he did not push them ("We don't do God"). But leading Liberal Democrats who are clearly committed to Christianity have been subject to continuous sniping, Indeed, I have speculated in the past that this is the reason for Sir Alan Beith not achieving the party leadership or the Speaker's Chair, both of which he would have fitted.

Tim's voting record on social issues has been virtually completely liberal. He also does not break promises. One of the people touted as a possible successor was one of those who, when in government, broke a pledge to the NUS over tuition fees. Tim did not.

I write as an agnostic, but not a militant atheist, so I believe I can take an objective view. A party which explicitly reaches out to all faiths and none should not penalise members for strongly held personal views which do not intrude on their public life. Good luck to Tim's successor.

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