The MP Interview: Tim Farron

On the social housing crisis, admiring Tony Blair, and standing in for Take That.

Tim Farron.
Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.

What made you go into politics?
I joined Shelter after watching a repeat of Cathy Come Home on TV.
 
What job did you do before you became an MP?
I was a university registrar.
 
Which law would you scrap?
Probably the unmitigated right to buy! It has seen us lose the majority of the UK’s social housing stock. I would like councils to be able to opt out of the right to buy scheme.  It would help us take a step towards dealing with the affordable homes crisis our country faces.
 
And if you could pass one law, what would it be?
A right/duty for councils to build affordable rented/shared ownership homes.
 
Do politics and religion mix?
They can do. We all have values, mine are in part formed by my faith. I’d say that my passion to tackle inequality, poverty, exploitation and the abuse of power and wealth come from those values.
 
Who is your favourite prime minister from history, and why?
Too clichéd to say Lloyd George?  Despite the working classes not having the vote to be able to reward him for doing so, he set up the nascent welfare state.
 
Name three dream dinner-party guests.
Paddy McAloon from Prefab Sprout; Jo Grimond and Neil Armstrong.
 
Which politician from a different party do you most admire?
I hate myself for saying this, but Tony Blair.  He’s a class act.
 
What’s your karaoke song of choice?
"The whole of the moon" by the Waterboys, I sang this with my mate Andy Prosser at Kendal’s premier night spot only the other week.
 
What’s the last film you saw?
Tintin with my kids.
 
What’s the last work of fiction you read?
The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo.
 
Newsnight or Question Time?
Newsnight.
 
Humphrys or Paxman?
Paxman I think.
 
Who is your favourite blogger?
Caron Lindsay - A fantastic blog written by a great Scottish Liberal.  I also read Lib Dem Voice, a brilliant place if you want to know what the "Lib Dems think".
 
Who is your favourite newspaper columnist?
Polly Toynbee – she writes well, makes me cross, and sometimes even makes me laugh.
 
If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
More time with my kids.
 
What’s the funniest or saddest thing you’ve ever heard at a surgery?
Funniest thing: ‘Mark Owen from Take That has just cancelled so is there any chance you could do the opening ceremony for our new playground?’
 
Saddest thing: Too many to mention.  Mostly housing related issues, families in desperate poverty, stupid and cruel immigration decisions that separated loved ones. They break my heart but these are the things that keep me going – when you get someone re-housed or help someone get their personal debts under control, it makes the job worthwhile. I can take or leave the Westminster village nonsense, but the casework and the community campaigning stuff always motivates me.  When someone comes up to and says "Thanks Tim - you got me and my mum re-housed" it really cheers you up.  Making a difference is what keeps me going and why I got into politics in the first place.
 
What was your worst doorstep campaigning moment?
Being told in Bermondsey by a woman that she was definitely not voting Lib Dem, that she was voting Labour . . . for that nice Simon Hughes.
 
Who is the most important person in your life, and why?
My wife Rosie, for all the obvious and very lovely reasons.  
 
Do you think you will ever be prime minister – and if not, why not?
It’s not my lifetime ambition.  My ambition is to make a difference and stand up for the people who can't be heard.