Following Nick Clegg's resignation as Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the wake of the recent general election, two candidates have emerged, each eager to take on the role.
They are Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale since 2005 and former Shadow Minister for the Countryside and Rural Affairs (2007-11), and Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk since 2001 and former Minister of State for Care and Support (2012-15). Since polling on 7 May 2015, nearly 13,500 people have joined the Liberal Democrats and anyone who joins before the end of May will be entitled to vote in the election of the new Party Leader. To join the party, please visit http://www.libdems.org.uk/join .
To date they are the only two MPs to have announced their candidacy but nominations can be received until 3 June 2015. Ballot papers for the election of the party's new leader will be dispatched to members on 24th June and the deadline for their return is 15th July 2015. The count and declaration of the party's new leader will take place the following day.
A conviction politician, Norman Lamb wants to:-
· transform the educational attainment of those who have been let down by the system, where life chances are too often determined by birth circumstances;
· end economic unfairness due to the growing gulf between the super rich and everyone else, which he believes destroys hope and corrupts our social fabric;
· shift tax from employment income to unearned wealth as this is the fairest, most effective way to promote enterprise, innovation and a dynamic competitive economy;
· provide real answers for how to protect, sustain and enhance key public services because he believes public provision is the fairest way to meet the demands that a technologically-transforming world will place on the UK;
· apply the same critical faculties to unaccountable power in the EU as we must do to our own creaking institutions; and
· work to change our electoral system where whilst one in four people voted UKIP, Liberal Democrat or Green, they are represented in Parliament by just 10 MPs.
Commenting on the announcement of his nomination, Norman Lamb MP said: "We need a vibrant leadership campaign, full of ideas, devoid of recrimination, but willing to examine where we went wrong so that we learn lessons for the future. We can become a strong voice for Liberal Britain again. We need an advocate who can communicate our case to the public with passion. I offer myself for that role and ask for your support.”
Meanwhile, following his recent re-election as an MP with a solid majority of 8,949, Tim has received hundreds of messages urging him to stand to be leader of his party from members, councillors and parliamentarians across the UK. Supporters include the leaders of the Welsh and Scottish Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams AM and Willie Rennie MSP, and former party leader David Steel, Mark Williams MP, John Pugh MP, Greg Mulholland MP, Lord Taylor of Goss Moor and Duncan Hames.
Commenting on the announcement of his nomination, Tim Farron MP said: "The Liberal Democrats can feel justifiably proud of their achievements in the last five years. Our policies made the country a better and fairer place. However, I believe our party needs a fresh start and think I am best the person to lead our fightback."
"Now, more than ever, Britain needs a political party that will stand up for the environment, human rights, equality and liberalism. I want to be the person who helps our party fightback and believe I have the skills, vision and voice to give the UK the liberal voice it needs. The party must rebuild from the ground up. We have done it before and I want to make sure that we do it again."