Tim Farron to vote against the bedroom tax tonight

A source close to the Lib Dem president says he will vote against the government after party members "expressed their will very strongly against the Bedroom Tax".

The Lib Dem revolt against the bedroom tax is gathering steam. Andrew George and Charles Kennedy have already announced that they will vote in favour of Labour's motion calling for the repeal of the measure and I've just learned that party president Tim Farron will be joining them. 

A source close to Farron told me:

At our recent Conference, the members expressed their will very strongly against the Bedroom Tax. As a result he will probably be voting against the the government tonight. Tim, as President, is the voice of the party members, they have expressed their view and Tim wants to make sure that their voice is heard.

As well as being morally right, Farron's decision will help to maintain his popularity among the Lib Dem grassroots, who voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion at their autumn conference calling for "an immediate evaluation of the impact of the policy" and for "a redrafting of clear housing needs guidelines in association with those representing vulnerable groups including the disabled, elderly and children". 

The motion also argued that, until new guidelines are in place, there should be no withdrawal of housing benefit from those on the waiting list for social housing and that there should be an exemption for those who "temporarily have a smaller housing need due to a change in their circumstances, but whose need will predictably return to a higher level (e.g. whose children will pass the age limits for separate rooms within that period)".

Farron has previously defied the Lib Dem whip on tuition fees, the NHS bill and Secret Courts, a voting record that will do him no harm should he run for the leadership in the future. 

Liberal Democrat party president Tim Farron speaks at the party's spring conference in Brighton on 10 March 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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