As Tim’s time as Liberal Democrat leader comes to an end, he looks back on all we’ve achieved together in the last two years.
By Tim Farron, Jul 18, 2017 2:07
On Thursday, I’ll hand over to our new leader – but before I do, I want to say thank you.
When I took over the role two years ago, I’d have never predicted we’d be where we are today.
These last two years have seen the Liberal Democrats recover from the devastation of the 2015 election.
That recovery was never inevitable but, in two short years, we have doubled our party membership, grown in council elections, and won by-elections the length and breadth of Britain.
We delivered our first parliamentary by-election win for more than a decade, and most recently in one of the most chaotic and difficult elections in recent memory, increased our number of MPs by 50% and defied expectations once again.
A third of our parliamentary party is now female and we now have our first ethnic minority MP and the first MP of Palestinian descent.
We are one of the few parties to elect a MP with a disability and we were the only party to select a candidate from an all disabled shortlist.
We have lead the fight to keep Britain at the heart of Europe, through the referendum and beyond and led and won campaigns that will make Britain a better place.
Most importantly the Liberal Democrats have established ourselves with a significant and distinctive role – passionate about Europe, free trade, strong well-funded public services underpinned by a growing market economy.
No one else occupies that space. Against all the odds, the Liberal Democrats matter again.
There’s still a long road to walk before we fully recover the strength we had in 2010 and a lot of work still to do to rebuild our party after a bruising few years, but we can be immensely proud of what we’ve achieved together.
My successor will inherit a party that Britain needs now more than ever before. Our future as an open, tolerant and united country is at stake.
People who will fight for a Britain that is confident, generous and compassionate are needed more than ever before. The cause of British liberalism has never been needed more.
That is the challenge our party and my successor faces and the opportunity I am certain that they will rise to.
I want to say one more thing: I joined our party when I was 16, it is in my blood, I love our history, our people, I thoroughly love my party.
I have loved being your leader and you have all made me prouder than I thought possible. You have risen to the challenge and rebuilt a party that was on its knees.
All of our success now and in the years to come is down to you and your support.
We do not know when the next General Election will be, but we will be prepared for it – and with your support and my successor’s leadership, I am sure our party will rise to the challenge once again.
Thank you for your support.