Saturday, May 15, 2010

Did They Pick the Wrong Norman?

it comes to something in a Ministerial shuffle when Norman Baker becomes a minister and Norman Lamb doesn't.

As regular readers will know, LibDem MP Norman Lamb whipped my Tory ass in the 2005 election. He was a formidable opponent. Over the last couple of years he has been the LibDem Health spokesman, and has long been thought of as a leading light on the LibDem front bench. And yet he has not been given a ministerial position. Seeing as Norfolk & Suffolk have only one Minister in the government, I wrote this in my Eastern Daily Press column this morning...

Wouldn’t it be poetic justice, especially for me since I stood against him in 2005, if Norman Lamb, a Liberal Democrat, had turned out to be the only minister from Norfolk and Suffolk in a Conservative dominated government? But he hasn’t got a job at all, which is very odd considering his high profile position shadowing the health portfolio in opposition. I would have expected him to be appointed a Minister of State, but it seems he is to be rewarded with nothing. I find that inexplicable.

Norman's friend and former campaign aide Nich Starling, aka Norfolk Blogger, who had a good old rant against the coalition on the Today Programme this morning, is bemused and not a little angry, judging from THIS post.

Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb championed the idea of parties working together to come up with a proper response to the issues of personal care for the elderly in a way which would remove party political point scoring and instead focus on solving problems.

So what has Norman Lamb's reward been for championing working with other parties ? Nothing. No ministerial post, not at any level of government.

So when it comes to proving that people can work with other parties, Norman Lamb is given zilch by Nick Clegg in what appears to be Norman bring pushed aside by David Cameron, who seems now to be able to decide who in the Lib Dems will and won't be given positions.

What an appalling position for the Lib Dems to be in.

I can see where he is coming from, but I think Nich gets it wrong. There was a two way veto operating here. I understand the LibDems vetoed Mark Francois as Europe Minister. And I suspect what happened here was that Andrew Lansley vetoed Norman Lamb as a Minister of State at the Department of Health. The two do not get on and Lansley has regarded Norman with deep suspicion ever since the cross party talks over long term care. So Paul Burstow got the nod instead.

That still doesn't explain why he didn't get a different job, as his undoubted talents would merit. Politically, he is one LibDem who I would say is closer to the Conservative Party on most issues than most of his colleagues. He is a free market, slightly Eurosceptic LibDem and I am sorry he is now on the outside. He would be a good minister if he can get past a reputation for indecision.

But according to a tweet by the Indy on Sunday's Jane Merrick, all is not lost...

norman lamb update: hear he's in govt, will get something decent, nick thinks he's fantastic, etc. sounds more like cock-up than conspiracy

Interesting, especially as all the Ministerial posts have now been filled, so the only post I can see him being offered is PPS to the leader - a job he had under Charles Kennedy, and a job which for obvious reasons I doubt whether he enjoyed. But the whole thing still reeks of cockup. How can you forget one of your leading frontbenchers, especially one has performed well throughout the previous parliament.

I wouldn't blame Norman if he felt a bit sore about all this, which may explain why he seems to have gone to ground.

15 comments:

trevorsden said...

I cannot understand this total waste of newsprint and endangered pixels I am afraid.

A couple of lines might suffice. All governing parties are full competent of people who did not make it into government and idiots who do. Frank Field (I know he did, but not for long) and Prescott are 2 labour examples. Its a price we pay for politics being conducted by human beings, not avatars.

And when we come to a coalition the horse trading is even more complicated. Norman Lamb defeated you - 5 years ago - I suggest the time fore being nice about him all the time is long since past.

Curmudgeon said...

Given Norman Baker's history of foaming at the mouth about "4x4s" I made a joke on a forum about him becoming Transport Secretary - and now he has been appointed to the DfT as a junior minister. Many a true word spoken in jest, and all that...

Hopefully Philip Hammond will keep him in check.

Eoghan said...

What happened to Ed Davey?

Richard Shaw said...

Norman Baker's appointment will be the kiss of death for any prospects for the dangerous A27 being made into a dual carriageway across the whole if his Lewes Constituency. Years ahead of queues and more fatalities.

I feel very sorry for Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, because maverick Baker could hardly be described as a Team Player.

tory boys never grow up said...

Definitely a case of better inside the tent pissing out etc

Ross said...

It is worrying to think that Norman Baker may have been appointed deliberately.

DespairingLiberal said...

I disagree Trevorsden, this is significant and Iain is right to discuss it. I suspect it may be quite political and to do with future policy on care for the elderly - a signal that the new government intends, like the last, not to make well-planned structural change but instead to continue to essentially do nothing whilst paying lip service to change?

As to Norman Baker, I've had sufficient dealings with him to know that people often underestimate him - his background as a LibDem street fighter is something he finds it hard to let go of when interviewed, so he sometimes goes over the top on TV/radio, but he is a smart bloke.

On the endless road widening schemes, do they really work in the long run? Or do they not just move congestion elsewhere? Britain can never build enough roads to meet the expectations of car drivers that have been falsely set by motor manufacturer advertising and the heavy public subsidies paid to road haulage companies.

neil craig said...

Norman Lamb is the son of Hubert Lamb the genuinely able climate scientist who founded the CRU. He calculated the size of the Medieval Warming period coming to almost the same conclusion the sceptics do now & never accepted the current alarmism built on the bones of his organisation.

T don't know if Norman is quietly a warming sceptic but it would certainly explain yje party's apparent attitude.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Iain, a very fair assessment.

norman said...

I never paid any serious attention to the prattle of " Norfolk Blogger" who was complaining in R4 that the Con-Libdem deal was spurious because it did not include Normal Lamb! Even in you thread Iain, this blogger sounds often very deluded. As for Norman Baker, I would support including him based solely on his fight regarding David Kelly's death.
Norman Lamb was speaking the day before the Con-Libdem deal was finalised. Not impressed with what he was saying. Norman Baker's inclusion is in line with
President Johnson's policy of keeping him in the tent pissing out.

Forlornehope said...

If he's already a Tory leaning Eurosceptic, there's no need to buy him off with a job.

Jimmy said...

Lamb refused to play ball with the odious Lansley over his cynical Palinesque shroudwaving. Obviously he was going to be punished for it.

norman said...

@Jimmy. Who in thee Labour Party you support? Balls up or one of the Kray sorry Miliband brothers?

Tim said...

Imagine that DC & NC are going thro the lists. They agree NL goes to health. They talk to their Cabinet members, but AL does not get back immediately for legit reasons. The other jobs get announced, and then AL says "no way". Then you have a problem - no job for NL, even though everyone (except AL) agrees he is hugely talented.

The reality is that we are new to coalitions, and in the rush to get going these cock-ups happen.

Jimmy said...

@Norman,

I'm a floater at the moment. I'd like as wide a selection as possible. As I'm not one of those who believes the coalition will collapse in weeks I think we can afford to take our time over this.