Lib Dem Tim Farron booed by audience as tensions erupt in conference row

Tim Farron booed during speech at Lib Dems conference

Tim Farron was booed by audience members at the Lib Dem conference today as tensions erupted during a rowdy debate over housing.

A major row has been brewing over the party replacing a pledge to build 380,000 new homes a year with a new social housing commitment.

An amendment pushing for the old target to remain in place was backed by members in a crunch vote this afternoon in a blow to Sir Ed Davey.

In a heated speech during the debate at the party’s annual conference in Bournemouth, Mr Farron furiously hit out at those seeking to retain national housing targets.

The Lib Dem MP and former party leader told the conference hall: “If there was a credible amendment today to build 380,000 council houses a year, I would back it.

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“I reckon I can get away with being a rebel again now, I do not give a monkey’s, but amendment one does not do that.

“It is a vague and vacuous target, and we have had vague targets for years. They are not radical, they are not liberal, they are not new, they are not effective.

“Thatcher had them, Blair had them, Cameron had them. They achieve naff all, they do not work. Sorry.

“They do work if you’re a property investor, they do work if you’re a second home owner, they do work if you’re comfortable already and on the housing ladder.

“Vague targets let and empower developers to build the houses that they want but never ever the homes that we desperately need, especially that young people actually need.

“The authors of amendment one do not mean it, but it is pure Thatcherism.”

At this point loud booes were heard from some members in the hall.

He went on: “A laissez-faire, free market, winner-takes-all bonus for those who see houses as capital investments, holiday hideaways, nice little pension pots but not homes for the millions who need them.

“Amendment one could be, despite the wonderful speeches genuinely made in favour of it, the most right-wing thing we’ve seen at party conference since we sent Liz Truss off to go and work undercover.

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“Seriously I have spent my life fighting Thacherism, I never thought I’d have to do it here.”

Mr Farron later has his microphone cut off having spoken for the maximum duration allowed.

Elsewhere during the debate, audience members heckled as housing spokesperson Helen Morgan said the Liberal Democrats “will build 150,000 new homes for social rent every year”.

Shouts of “where?” were heard as she opened the housing motion.

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