Could Tim do a 'Trudeau'?

25 Sep 2016


In an interview with Buzzfeed earlier this month, the Lib Dem leader declared he needs to prove to voters the ‘serious proposition’ his party could storm to power just like Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party.


In 2015 the Liberals went from being the third largest party to forming a majority government in just four years.


And that, Tim Farron believes, is something his Liberal Democrats could replicate in the UK.


Their stories aren’t too dissimilar, both in recent years hit an all time low electorally. Only last year the Lib Dems lost 80 per cent of their MPs and in 2011 the Canadian Liberals won the fewest seats in its history.


But that is where their similarities end.


Unlike their British counterparts, the Liberal Party of Canada has a long history of being in power in the 20th century.


Having spent a total of 69 years in power since the beginning of the 20th century, Canadians were used to seeing the Liberals in government. This surely gave Justin Trudeau a helping hand when he took his party to victory.


His party had been tried and tested and perhaps Canadian voters didn’t need as much convincing that the Liberals are a party of government.


Contrast that to the UK where the country hasn’t seen a Liberal Prime Minister since 1916. The only taste of power the Liberal Democrats have had was forming a coalition government in 2010 with the Conservatives, as the minor party.


And there lies the problem for Tim Farron and his ambitious goal of doing a 'Trudeau'.


The vast majority of British people alive today have never seen a Liberal Prime Minister or a Liberal majority government, meaning voters need serious convincing that the Liberal Democrats are a genuine party of government, and not just a party of opposition.


Although 'Clegmania' and the coalition brought the Lib Dems the closest they've been to a serious political party, the PR disaster following tuition fees meant that any prestige gained was ruined following 2011.


Now, with just 8 MPs in the House of Commons after being obliterated at the 2015 general election, Tim Farron is starting from a very low base to take his party to the magic 326 seats needed for a majority.


With the Labour Party in crisis and far from being a party of government, there is genuine space for the Liberal Democrats to become the official opposition in just one parliament- that should be Tim Farron’s ambition.


There’s no doubt the Lib Dems will recover and rebound from their electoral disaster, they’ve so far gained the most council seats out of any other party since May 2015.


But a majority government in just one Parliament? Sorry Tim, but it’s going to take more than four years to convince British voters your Liberal Democrats are a genuine party of government.


You can read more by this commentator here.

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Want to respond? Submit an article.


We provide a space for reasoned arguments and constructive disagreements.

Help to improve the quality of political debate – support our work today.