I’ve known Tim since his student days in Newcastle-upon-Tyne back in the early 1990s. He was one of the University’s liberal ‘live wires’ – a trusty and enthusiastic activist of the classical ‘doorstep politics’ variety. I warmed to him right away. Over the years I’ve worked with him in many political spheres. I also played a small part in his election to Parliament in Westmorland and Lonsdale.

Tim is well placed to begin the long and arduous process of reconstructing the Liberal movement from its devastating election disaster in 2015. He’s the opposite of the former leader, Nick Clegg who had none of Tim’s ‘grass roots’ campaigning experience. Farron is also hugely likeable; a natural liberal who understands the needs of a nation desperately seeking politicians with a common touch.

Will he be able to undo the damage wrought during his predecessor’s unpopular reign? I think so – but it will take time. The party has been so considerably reduced in its campaigning strength that there are no easy fixes. It will take patience and dedication to win back hearts and minds – and even then the time line for such a recovery is indeterminate.

All the same, Tim’s election marks a turning point in the fortunes of the Liberal Democrats. It’s likely many former party members, put off by Clegg’s ineffectual antics, will be motivated to re-join now a more authentic liberal voice is at the helm.

With just one MP remaining in Wales and the same lamentable tally in Scotland, Tim has his work cut out. But there’s an ocean of good will to help him. He worked his way up from the bottom and made numerous friends along the way.

It’s a funny thing, politics. The fortunes of parties and people rise and fall like the tide. When I was leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, I presided over a Parliamentary team of four MPs – the largest number in the Welsh Lib Dems’ history. That’s half the size of the ENTIRE Liberal Democrat party today.

I’m confident that under Tim’s leadership the party will start healing. I also trust that systems will be created to ensure the liberal movement can never again be hijacked and harmed by selfish actions of an inept elite.

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