David Cameron is stuck in "media management mode" and the prime minister has "ignored his humanity" over the refugee crisis facing Europe, according to Tim Farron. The Liberal Democrat leader launched the emotionally charged attack on the Conservative leader during his keynote speech at his party's annual conference in Bournemouth on 23 September.
Farron, who visited the Calais refugee camps just a week after getting elected in July, said the government's reaction to the crisis made him "so angry". He told the conference: "What we've had from David Cameron is a careful calibration of what it will take to manage that story, the minimum effort for the maximum headlines.
"And a policy which will not directly help a single one of the hundreds of thousands currently on the move across Europe. It's pitiful and embarrassing, and it makes me so angry.
"Because I am proud to be British and I am proud of Britain's values, so when Cameron turns his back on the needy and turns his back on our neighbours, I want the world to know he does not speak for me, he does not speak for us and he does not speak for Britain."
Farron made the comments after Cameron U-turned and promised the UK would take up to 20,000 extra Syrian refugees from UN camps. "Winter is coming and the risks and hardships faced by those seeking sanctuary will only increase. If you are shocked by the pictures on our TV screens today, just think how much worse they will look when the snows come to the Balkans. If we don't act now, many more will die," the Liberal Democrat leader added.
He called on the government to opt into the EU plan to deal with the humanitarian crisis and called on Cameron to "take our share of the refugees to be relocated throughout the continent". The attack won Farron a second standing ovation – the first was in reaction to his entrance – from the Liberal Democrat faithful.
Coded attack on Corbyn
The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP also criticised Jeremy Corbyn, who swept to victory in the Labour leadership election with almost 60% of the vote. However, Farron chose to use more coded language when confronting the left-winger.
"If others wish to abandon serious politics, serious economics, that's their lookout. But you can be certain that the Liberal Democrats will occupy every inch of that progressive liberal space because you cannot change people's lives from the glory of self-indulgent opposition," he argued.
The Liberal Democrat leader, as billed, announced his party would focus its campaigning efforts around tackling the housing crisis, which Farron called a "national emergency". The speech also offered up an insight into the 45-year-old's personal life, with references to Farron's enjoyment of The X Factor. "It's a terrible programme, but strangely compelling," he quipped.
The Lib Dem leader will hope the speech motivates and enthrals his party after a crippling general election, with the Scottish, Welsh, London and local elections coming in 2016.