Right now the Liberal Democrats are engaged in that rare thing, a leadership contest, and for Britain’s third party (the Scottish Nationalists are not British they are Little Scotlanders) the decision as to who should lead the party determines the future of the party for the next ten years.
Norman and Tim both believe that our time spent in Government was time spent doing good, and neither would have walked away from the coalition deal in the last parliament (indeed only two Lib Dem MP’s did vote to walk away from the coalition deal and one of them is no longer with us), in that sense both are men who want to have their hands on the reigns of power.
Both of these men are University Graduates, and neither went through Oxbridge, which in my eyes give them half a foot in the right place educationally. We already have two identikit parties offering a plethora of Oxbridge graduates to run the country and quite frankly that is not a good place to be. Our politicians should represent the people and the country, not the institutions that they are there to legislate and scrutinise.
Both are most definitely Liberals, in all sense of the word. They believe in social justice, in campaigning against poverty and in enabling people to run their own lives and the services that they provide. The are both co-operativist Liberals, believing that the best companies are those which engage the workforce in decisions that affect the future of the company.
They are also both unsurprisingly passionate about their achievements in the communities that they represent. Their eyes were afire with passion when they talked of the people they had helped and the battles they had fought and won. The expression of that passion though is where the difference between the two candidates also became clear.
When Norman speaks you hear a solicitor presenting a very carefully calculated case, that is designed to win the argument, based on a plethora of untold facts that you know he summon to his defence if they are requested. His grasp of the minutia is phenomenal, and were I wanting an advocate I would not hesitate to turn to Norman.
When Tim speaks you hear an orator presenting a very skilfully crafted prose, tugging at both nostalgia for better times and presenting a picture of a better future. If I was looking for someone to motivate and drive people to that last moment of work and support, then Tim is the person I would want speaking out.
The question I then have to ask is what do I want from a leader, well actually I want both. I want an orator who can colour a speech with the nostalgia and the hope and speak for the aspirations of a generation, but who backs that up with solid evidence so that his case is never questioned and his facts never doubted.
That is why despite my political position being closer to Norman, I have decided that I will back Tim Farron for leader. For me it is not a question of who I can trust, or who I am closest to politically or who I am going to be able to work with most easily. For me it is about what do they bring to the table, and does the individual have the capacity to learn to adapt to become that combination I have outlined of being a great orator though basing the oration in absolute fact and evidence.
Norman will never be that Great Orator, that is not learned it is instinctive, but Tim could be capable of learning the facts and producing the evidence.
This for me is an election of potentials, and the candidate who has the potential to be the leader I want for this party is Tim Farron, and that is why he will get my vote.