Tim Farron was the victim of prejudice against Christians

Tim Farron was the victim of prejudice against Christians

The Catholic Cardinal of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, above, left, has added his voice to those claiming that Tim Farron was forced to resign as leader of the Liberal Democrat party this week because of prejudice against Christians in the world of UK politics.

According to the Catholic Herald, Nichols said he was:

Sorry to read Mr Farron’s statement and I recognise the hurt it expresses. Undoubtedly he has been given a hard time.

This country has a long and continuing history of very committed Christians making major and sustained contributions to our political life. Our current Prime Minister is just one example.

Canon Pat Brown, the Catholic chaplain to Parliament also expressed his sorrow, saying that he was:

Very saddened by the resignation of Mr Farron and alarmed if it is true that there is no place in Parliament for a committed Christian. It’s a judgement on the way we do politics in this country.

Crossbench peer Lord Alton of Liverpool, a former Liberal Democrat MP, also released a statement appearing to lay the blame at the door of the party, noting that millions of British people share Tim Farron’s Christian beliefs.

It is ironic that a Party, which I joined as a teenager, because of its belief in conscience, human rights and free speech, has morphed into something so narrow and intolerant…that its leader has been forced to choose between his Faith and his Party.

While Tim Farron should never have been forced to make this choice, said Lord Alton, he has nonetheless made the right call and should be admired for doing so.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Farron said:

To be a political leader, especially of a progressive liberal party in 2017, and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching has felt impossible.

He said he had found himself “torn” between:

Living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader. I seem to be the subject of what I believe and who my faith in is. In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.

Farron, who is on the evangelical wing of the Church of England, was repeatedly dogged by questions over his views on homosexuality during his time as leader, especially during the election campaign.

After winning the party leadership in 2015, he was repeatedly asked whether his Christian faith meant he believed homosexuality was a sin. The questions then arose again in the recent election campaign, with Farron first prevaricating before eventually saying he did not think it was sinful.

The Guardian then dug up a 2007 interview in which Farron said abortion was “wrong”. He recanted that view during the campaign.

Earlier on Wednesday, Lord Paddick, above, who is Britain’s most senior openly gay police officer, resigned as the party’s home affair’s spokesman over “concerns about the leader’s views on various issues that were highlighted” during the election campaign.

Farron narrowly held his Westmoreland and Lonsdale seat in last week’s election, but saw his party’s representation increase from nine seats to 12.

Farron’s departure has further diminished the influence of Christians in British politics

After the General Election Dan Hitchens, Deputy Editor of the Catholic Herald lamented the fact that voters had chosen to oust:

Some outstanding examples of Christians in public life. The Conservatives’ David Burrowes, an Evangelical who opposed his party on gay marriage and campaigned for refugees and the homeless, lost his seat. So did Labour’s Rob Flello, a Catholic convert who once said: ‘I could no more leave my faith at the door of the House of Commons than I could my name or my gender or my arms and legs.’

Some of the Christian MPs who were ousted in the General Election: From left, David Burrowes, Rob Flello, Julian Brazier and Nicola Blackwood

Flello was a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group; two other former members – Julian Brazier (Conservative) and Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem) were also ousted. A fourth member of the group, the Lib Dems’ John Pugh, stood down at this election. Meanwhile, Ben Gummer, a Tory minister who was opposed to abortion and said he would vote for a reduction in time limits, lost Ipswich. In Oxford West, Nicola Blackwood, a Christian Tory who voted against assisted suicide, was defeated by Layla Moran, a Lib Dem who supports it.

Hitchens said:

For all I know, the next generation of Flellos and Burrowses will be found among the new crop of MPs.

But it looks as though Parliament’s Christian contingent has been seriously damaged, which is worrying given the issues which could come up in the next five years. Pro-choice MPs are seeking the decriminalisation of abortion; the Tories want to introduce four-year-olds to ‘relationships education’; promoters of assisted suicide never give up; and that is only to mention the more obvious areas.

Christians have other reasons to be disappointed. Within both main parties, the movements which are explicitly inspired by Catholic social teaching – Red Toryism, Blue Labour – now seem on the back foot.

He concluded:

The hounding of Tim Farron suggested that British politics was an increasingly hostile environment for Christians, an impression which these election results have reinforced. Then again, the DUP – whose MPs tend to support the lives of unborn babies and oppose the redefinition of marriage – are now being welcomed into the corridors of power, so who knows? Perhaps we should all swear off predictions for a while. Perhaps Christians should especially.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

72 responses to “Tim Farron was the victim of prejudice against Christians”

  1. John says:

    Grand ideas – like the NHS and the welfare state?
    Would you rather they did not exist?

  2. remigius says:

    John, I think you may be confused. Both the NHS and the Welfare State are Liberal/Conservative reforms rather than Labour.

    The NHS and the Welfare State arose from the Beveridge Report commissioned by the Conservative led coalition government in 1941, and published in 1942. The author of the report, William Beveridge, was a member of the Liberal Party.

    On March 21st 1943 the Conservative Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, announced a four year plan for the establishment of a national health service and an expanded welfare stare – paid for by a mandatory national insurance contribution scheme.

    Churchill lost the election in 1945, however the Atlee Labour government continued with the plans for health and welfare.

    The Labour government were certainly in power when the NHS began operating in 1948 – but they were not in power when the reforms began in the early 1940s.

  3. barriejohn says:

    And don’t forget Lloyd George, who introduced the Old Age Pension, although Labour was only a fledgling party at the time:

    All opposed by the religious and Northcliffe’s newspapers, of course (plus ca change!):

    “pure socialism… and the end of all, the negation of faith, of family, of property, of Monarchy, of Empire.”

  4. John says:

    Labour were in government from 1940 onwards.
    Attlee served as Deputy Prime Minister along with a number of other Labour colleagues in government.
    Yes, Churchill was involved in the early attempts to introduce some sort of welfare state along with Lloyd George after Churchill had observed the Bismark reforms in Germany in the early 19th Century but he only did so as a result of wanting to have a fit and healthy workforce and a fit and healthy bank of recruits for armed service.
    The individual welfare of individuals did not come into it.
    From memory, the first 1911 state pension payment was five shillings for a single person over 70 or seven-and-sixpence a week for a married couple. Hardly generous!
    Yes, Beveridge and Butler both had their names on the reforms that were introduced by the 1945-1950 Labour Government, as well as the introduction of another Liberal set of ideas known as Keynesianism but it was a Labour Government that introduced these measures as the UK electorate knew that the traditional parties of power – Tories and Liberals – would only have tried to take the UK back to the earlier era of the 1920s and 1930s.
    The reforms were grudgingly accepted by Churchill during the early 1940s as a “price” for maintaining a united front in the struggle against Nazism.
    Turning to today, there is virtually no difference between the present-day Liberals and Tories. The Lib Dem record in coalition government contrasts sharply with Labour when in coalition government between 1940 and 1945.
    Labour extracted commitments to a modern welfare state, an improved education system and an NHS from the Tories as part of the deal to stay in coalition.
    The Lib Dems – between 2010 and 2015 – junked everything they had pledged themselves to just to get in to and stay in power. How can anyone trust them?

  5. remigius says:

    ‘The reforms were grudgingly accepted by Churchill during the early 1940s as a “price” for maintaining a united front in the struggle against Nazism.’

    John, that’s bollocks.If it were the case that Churchill only ‘grudgingly accepted’ a proposed national health service in order to defeat Hitler he could have reversed that decision in 1945, after defeating Hitler.

    However, as the 1945 Conservative election manifesto shows, he was fully committed to the national health service. See here (about halfway down)…

    If you have any evidence that Churchill was not in favour of the creation of the NHS I would be both eager, and surprised, to see it,

  6. remigius says:

    Even the British Medical Journal credits Churchill, rather than Bevan, with the creation of the NHS…

    But please don’t let facts,or an article in a peer reviewed publication (published by the relevant professional body), get in the way of your sincerely held beliefs.

  7. John says:

    What you are citing is a response to an 11-year old article, the content of which is hidden behind a paywall.
    The response – from a GP in Singapore – reads like something out of Tory Tall Tales.
    You should try to address yourself to the reality of the history of the 1940s and not the retrograde musings of some colonial practitioner.
    Churchill played a significant role in keeping the UK free in the 1940s – of that there is no doubt.
    But he also has much to answer for even in today’s world.
    His contribution to the zionist rape of Palestine being just one.

  8. John says:

    Labour’s 1945 General Election was less wordy that the Tory one.
    It kept the language simple, did not enshrine ‘voluntary’ hospitals (as did the Tory manifesto) and pledged ‘Labour will work specially for the care of Britain’s mothers and their children.’, whereas the Tories main concern seemed to be ‘the life of Britain and her enduring glory.’
    See the difference?
    I am sorry if this does not fit in with your perception of Tory paternalism. I think Macmillan was like that but he was just about the only in recent times, except possibly Heath, who was in office too short a time to be known.
    Coming back to today, I don’t trust the Tories or the Liberals of today to be any different to their counterparts from the 1980s onwards.
    They were – and are – all advocates of neo-liberalism – as were Blair and Brown.
    It is time for a change.
    It is time for Corbyn and McDonnell.

  9. remigius says:

    ‘You should try to address yourself to the reality of the history of the 1940s…’

    I did, hence my inclusion of the 1945 Conservative election manifesto pledge on the NHS, which you somehow forgot to read – or maybe you did read it, and recognising that it did not fit your narrative decided to change the subject from the NHS to Palestine!

  10. remigius says:

    Sorry, I started typing my comment about you not reading the manifesto before your second comment appeared. (Still an impressive change of subject, though).

    However, the fact still remains that Churchill was in favour of the NHS. Do you have any evidence to the contrary?

  11. John says:

    No – I read the entire section relating to health, ending with the words ‘the life of Britain and her enduring glory.’
    The usual humbug phrases associated with Churchill.
    Did you not read the entire section?
    I already referred to it once before above.
    I am just pragmatic about Churchill, whereas you seem to have some sort of hero-worship complex.
    In many ways – not good ways – I can see Boris Johnson emerging as a present-day Churchill figure.
    Watching him on TV recently, I noticed he is now cultivating a Churchillian-style walk.
    I am sure the Liberal Democrats would be happy to get into bed with Boris in Parliament.
    An “unholy” “marriage” of Bo and Jo, maybe?
    She could always say she is doing it for England.
    What do you say to that?

  12. John says:

    Something has happened to this web site in the form of it taking some time before posted comments appear.
    This is causing unnecessary extra comments, as commenters are having to respond to earlier comments they had not previously seen.
    Barry has admitted the problem.
    Maybe we should all give him time and space to get it sorted?

  13. remigius says:

    ‘What do you say to that?’

    I say bollocks to the lot of ’em. I cannot stand the Conservatives – they put the wants of the rich above the needs of the poor. I have never/could never vote for them unless they had a serious change of direction. As a centre-left/socialist I should support the Labour Party – but I simply don’t trust them with the economy. The Lib-Dems are a mess at the moment.

    I was strongly against Cameron’s Brexit referendum, and think Theresa May and her government are a complete joke. The last few years have been politically disastrous – but utterly fascinating.

  14. John says:

    For me, the choice is simple.
    You can either support neo-liberal austerity or you can support the anti-austerity policies of Labour.
    In some ways, a direct reverse of what happened in the 1950s, when Labour – arguably – was the party of austerity and the Tories became the party of “free” choice.
    Austerity just drags our economy down and down and down.
    Look at the national debt, which has doubled since the Tories came to power in 2010, and shows no sign of decreasing.
    That is because the UK economy is being steadily whittled away by austerity measures.
    Based on Keynesian notions, this means that effective demand continues to fall, which benefits only the very richest in society who are feather-bedded from the effects of austerity.
    This is what has been happening since Thatcher gained power in 1979.
    The system must change and it can only change if investment in the UK economy is made.
    The Tories / Lib Dems have no policies to achieve this.
    Only Labour has a plan of investment in the UK people and economy.
    Either stay in a steady downward spiral with the Tories and Lib Dems or support Labour’s pro-investment plans.
    I know which I prefer.
    Not just for me but for all future generations.

  15. remigius says:

    ‘That is because the UK economy is being steadily whittled away by austerity measures.’

    I totally agree. If I had been prime minister from 2010 onward I would have wanted to borrow money (at historic low interest rates) to invest in infrastructure and public sector / capital projects – thus stimulating the economy. Unfortunately I would not have been allowed to do that – and neither was David Cameron.

    The EU placed the UK into special emergency measures called EDP – the Excessive Deficit Procedure, effectively taking control of the budget. When an EU nation’s deficit exceeds 3% of GDP Brussels takes over. See here (from 2015)…

    “The UK budget will remain under Brussels oversight for a further two years after it breached deficit targets. Despite widespread spending cuts Britain failed to reduce its deficit to below 3% – the maximum allowed under EU law.”

    The Chancellor delivered the budget address, but the amount of spending/cuts was overseen by the EU.

    If Labour had won the election in 2010 Gordon Brown’s government would have been under the same EU budgetary oversight.

  16. John says:

    Did you read ‘The EU cannot impose fines or sanctions on the UK because it is not a member of the eurozone.’ ?
    Effectively, the EDP does not apply to the UK.
    No excuse – therefore – for the unnecessary austerity measures of the Tories and Liberals 2010 to 2015.
    As Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly pointed out, austerity is a political choice and not an economic necessity.
    You keep bringing up points – that I then knock down.
    Can’t you just stop being a Blue/Yellow Tory apologist?
    They can’t get this country out of trouble.
    Only visionary Labour policies will do that.

  17. remigius says:

    ‘Effectively, the EDP does not apply to the UK.’

    And yet both the EU and the UK think it does. Just because the UK cannot be fined doesn’t mean it isn’t in breach of EU law. Why was the UK placed under EDP by the EU if the EDP doesn’t apply to the UK? And why did the UK comply with it if it didn’t have to?

    ‘You keep bringing up points – that I then knock down.’

    Nope. You keep arguing the toss rather than addressing the points.

  18. remigius says:

    ‘Can’t you just stop being a Blue/Yellow Tory apologist?’

    I have already made it clear that I am neither.

    ‘Only visionary Labour policies will do that.’

    I think we’ve found our apologist!

  19. John says:

    Swinson has ruled herself out as a possible Lib Den Leader.
    Now what are you going to do?
    As for the EDP, it is meaningless, especially for the UK.
    Finally, on the question of the degree of authenticity of Churchill in supporting the establishment of the NHS, let the then people of the UK have the final word on that matter.
    They voted him out of Number 10 by a landslide.
    Clearly, they were just not persuaded by him at all.

  20. John says:

    I am no apologist for Labour policies.
    I am an absolute 100% supporter of them.

  21. remigius says:

    So you don’t defend/champion/advocate/etc Labour policies, but you do support Labour policies. Yeah, that makes sense.

    Any indication of when you’ll be addressing my questions at 6:49pm above? I’d love to know why the UK government complied with a law it didn’t have to (at a cost of billions to public services and irreparable damage to the its own reputation, as well as loss of control over its own budget) – and why the EU applied the same law to a country it shouldn’t have.

    I do realise you are still busy looking for evidence that Churchill was not in favour of the NHS (and believe me – I’ve looked myself but couldn’t find any!), though I am getting a little impatient.

    You can always admit defeat (we won’t think any less of you, quite the contrary) – or failing that you could have another go at criticising Churchill’s ‘humbug’ language and claim it as another ‘knock down’ victory.

  22. remigius says:

    As per usual your 12:36am comment hadn’t appeared when I wrote my 2:44am comment. In fact my 2:44am comment has only just appeared.

    ‘Swinson has ruled herself out as a possible Lib Den Leader.
    Now what are you going to do?’

    I don’t understand the question. Do about what?

    I don’t believe I have ever mentioned Swinson. I haven’t given any indication that I am interested in, or support, the Lib Dems – quite the opposite, my comments about them have been negative. Have you finally realised that I don’t actually support the Conservatives so automatically assumed I was a Lib Dem – in spite of the evidence that I clearly am not?

    The rest of your guff about the EDP and the 1945 general election is so laughable it doesn’t even warrant a rebuttal.

    You are either very stupid, or someone pretending to be very stupid. I’m not sure which. Either way I think I am wasting my time trying to engage with you – so I’m finished here.