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Former Lib Dem minister says 'illiberal and prejudiced' Tim Farron was right to quit

Former Lib Dem minister says 'illiberal and prejudiced' Tim Farron was right to quit

John Ashmore

3 min read

Former minister David Laws has issued a savage attack on Tim Farron, saying the Liberal Democrat leader was right to resign as he holds "outdated and offensive" views on social issues.

Mr Laws, a former Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Education minister in the coalition government, said other party members had "despaired" at Mr Farron's handling of questions about his personal views.

And he claimed his former colleague had helped spread the "dangerous myth" that gay relationships were "in some way immoral". 

Mr Farron stepped down yesterday, saying it was "impossible" for him to reconcile his Christian beliefs with leadership of his party.

His announcement came just hours after Lib Dem peer Brian Paddick quit the party’s front bench, citing his leader's views on homosexuality and abortion.

During the election campaign Mr Farron faced repeated questions over whether he believed gay sex to be a sin, initially declining to answer before clarifying that he did not.

He has also made clear that he is in favour of a woman's right to choose, despite an interview surfacing from 2007 in which he reportedly said abortion was "wrong" and "too widely available".


Writing in the i paper, Mr Laws said: "He has had an immensely difficult job to do over the last two years, and has helped rebuild his party’s membership and provide thoughtful opposition in Parliament.

"But you cannot be a leader of a liberal party while holding fundamentally illiberal and prejudiced views, which fail to respect our party’s great traditions of promoting equality for all our citizens.

"Many of us have despaired over the last few weeks in seeing all the good work of Liberal Democrats, such as Lynne Featherstone – who drove through the equal marriage legislation under the coalition – undermined by Tim’s failure to be able to give direct and liberal responses on his own attitudes to homosexuality."

He rejected the argument that Mr Farron's position was consistent with liberalism, because he was tolerant of lifestyles he did not necessarily personally approve of.

"As a gay man, I do not wish to be 'tolerated'. I wish to be respected for who I am. And I want a party leader whose respect for human equality comes before outdated and frankly offensive religious views," Mr Laws argued.

"Homophobic attitudes have done enormous damage to our society and to so many millions of citizens over many years. Children are bullied, and some have even taken their lives, and still do.

"These attitudes are wholly unacceptable to a true liberal – as unacceptable as racism or sexism. You do not remove homophobia from society by communicating as a political leader that same sex relationships are immoral, but should be 'tolerated'."

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