Monday, May 16, 2005

Promotion for Norman

I see Norman Lamb has been appointed Trade & Industry spokesman in Charles Kennedy's new team. Congratulations are in order, but North Norfolk will have to get used to seeing a lot less of its MP if he is to fulfill his role on the LibDem front bench properly. Having said that, I thought the LibDems wanted to abolish the DTI!


Anonymous said...

A stange decision to promote Mr Lamb, but doesn't this suggest that they now consider Norfolk North safe enough to be represented by a frontbencher? On a personal note, thank god Phil Willis has gone and who on earth believes Sarah Teather should be a spokeswoman on anything?

Tim said...

Norman Lamb has always been seen as a rising star and as a great addition to the Lib Dem team, but he had the matter of a 400-odd majority to deal with. Now it is much higher, he is safe enough to take a major role.

A actually agree about Teather- it seems like promotion for promotions sake.

Anonymous said...

Why has nobody commented on the desperate swing to the right that this demonstrates? Clearly losing seats to the Tories (which, net, they did) stung Kennedy. The LibDems will move this parliament from being left-of-Labour to be left-of-Tory and face problems next time.

For whats its worth Ian I think you did very well, and LibDem MPs with big majorities tended to see them cut. Two terms and you could have Stormin' Norman out!

James said...

"Two terms and you could have Stormin' Norman out!"

I have a sneaking suspicion that this latest contribution is a brilliant double bluff by the honourable member for North Norfolk himself. Welcome aboard, Mr Lamb!

Incidentally, I think both the Guardian and the Independent described this reshuffle as a move to the right. I am not so sure.

The big winners appear to be Webb and Davey who are moderately left of centre, Lamb and Teather who I would describe as mainstream or possibly slightly to the right and Laws firmly on the right. The treasury team remains formidable, with a centre right flavour as Huhne comes in.

Willis might be described as losing out on the left but it may well be that his departure was genuinely out of choice - he is now in his 60s. Burstow was always, as I understand it, a temporary stand-in at Health when Evan Harris stepped down to spend more time with his partner, who has been gravely ill. Bruce was a centrist and may have left to take up a select committee role (and he is also in his 60s with a young family I think). The final departure, Keetch, was never a major figure and I have no idea where he is on any left-right scale people chose to devise.

All in all, quite balanced and brings on fresh talent. It is interesting to see how Work and Pensions has become a battleground - Blunkett, Rifkind and Laws are all very heavy hitters in a traditionally fairly low-profile role which is most interesting.

Anonymous said...

I definately agree on DWP becoming the new battle-ground, I expect these issues will be playing a major role in the next Parliament, and the parties have all chosen genuine people of quality for this Department.

DM Andy said...

James, I live in Yeovil and can't see how David Laws could be described as a heavy hitter. At least on the occassions I've had dealings with him he's come across as rather ill-briefed and floppy in his ideas.

Compare him to Blunkett and Rifkind who will have forensic knowledge of every inch of their portfolio and I think Laws will be found wanting.

James said...

Andy - We will just have to agree to disagree then on the merits of the self-made millionaire former banker, double first awarded Cambridge economist and man described by the FT today as "one of the sharpest thinkers on the right of the party".

Anonymous said...

And he advocates tax hikes. His father apparently was a banker who supported Callaghan. I dare say he may be rich and bright, but he obviously has been studying Keynes over Adam Smith.

Anonymous said...

Rather than the rather snide comments from Iain Dale re North Norfolks MP it would be much more interesting to here his rational for why he lost here. But frankly, this blog, which used to be both interesting and full of humour has been terribly self pitying and the only humour has been acccidental (see the posting of all the 'I cant believe you lost' emails. Self indulgent and self serving...)

DM Andy said...

James - the last time that I spoke to Laws was about Foundation Hospitals, I was expecting a serious MP having a pre-arranged meeting with the most senior trade unionist in his constituency's hospitals to appear to have actually read the legislation that was to be discussed in Parliament the following week.

I don't doubt his intellect, but he either didn't care or couldn't be bothered. I didn't appreciate having my time wasted by the man.

Anonymous said...

Laws is an example of a man being so bright he has no common sense. Rifkind and Blunkett will make mincemeat of him.

Agreed, Teather is promotion for promotions sake - I mean, why...?

Those of us in the know, know that Davey was moved for the LIT blunders (expect that policy to go down the plughole) but will make a decent fist of it against Kelly. I know little about Webb but he is respected in the party (and an ex-boyfriend once voted for him, so no endorsement there).

Kennedy has missed the big opportunities here - a silly job for Hughes and Campbell still being the unofficial leader. Judgement being called into question methinks.

James said...

We'll have to agree to disagree on Laws - time will tell. I do not understand what Andrew's point (rather than Andy's) about Keynes/Adam Smith is all about. You would struggle to find a Tory with the economic liberal/neo-classical credentials of Laws. And if you think Keynes vs Smith is principally about high tax vs low tax, or even that Keynes disagreed with much of what Smith had to say, you urgently need to go back to the textbooks!

Teather is untested but was a huge asset at the by election and subsequently - she is likeable and capable. You have to trust your instincts and test these people at the top table. Likewise the promotions for Webb, Davey and Lamb. The first shadow cabinet post-election is a good time to do it and Howard has taken similar measured risks with his team.

As to judgement, Kennedy has few questions to answer on that front. He was the only senior politician to unerringly trust his judgement on Iraq at a time when public opinion was hawkish on the subject. Most people now think he called it right. It amused me at the election to see Tory MPs lining up to say they always had concerns about the legal basis and so on - they are the same people (frontbenchers included) I remember screaming "Charlie Chamberlain" at Kennedy on the brink of war. You don't hear that jibe any more. I only mention it because it was the single biggest judgement call of recent political times and the Tories (people like Ken Clarke and I think local MP Richard Bacon excluded) got it wrong.

Blithering Bunny said...

>screaming "Charlie Chamberlain" at Kennedy on the brink of war. You don't hear that jibe any more.

You'll be hearing it from me. I like it.

Anyway, if you don't hear it any more it's because the war is long gone, and the Iraqi elections have been held. It's no longer an issue to most people, who just aren't interested any more. It's only the BBC/Guardian/Indy crowd who are still harping on about it. They still think Kennedy's a hero. Everyone else still thinks he's Neil Kinnock reincarnated.

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