In the past few weeks, ConservativeHome and I have been critical of some Conservatives for, shall be saying, being absent from the headlines. However, this is nothing compared to the LibDems. have they disappeared off the face of planet earth? The Despatch blog makes a good point this morning, saying it is no good just sending out press releases and expecting great media coverage. Not only has Ming Campbell been absent from the headlines for three weeks, so have his key spokespeople.
Health spokesman Norman Lamb (my old opponent in North Norfolk), however, has hit the headlines for his remarks on the standards of health hygiene in the nation's hospitals. He compiled a league table of the hospitals with the worst records and bravely included his local (well, it's the one nearest to North Norfolk) hospital, the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, in the top five list of worst hospitals in the country on the basis that inspection reports made five sensible but minor suggested improvements - including fixing some flaking paint behind a dishwasher, and putting a can opener in the dishwasher rather hand washing it. The only trouble is, it turns out not to be true.
Mr Lamb has today been forced into a grovelling apology to the hospital in the Eastern Daily Press. The hospital said: "We had serious reservations about the quality of the [LibDem] research and it would have been nice with hindsight if Norman had got in touch with us beforehand."
I wouldn't like to be the researcher at LibDem HQ who did the legwork on this. We've all done it, I suppose, chased a headline and lived to regret it. I know I have, so I know how embarrassed Norman will be feeling this morning!