One of the problems we are facing here in North Norfolk is that our sitting Liberal Democrat MP, Norman Lamb, is seen to be a nice person. He may well be, but in my view that is hardly the point. He appears to have no political views.
In fairness to the man he has a pleasant manner and is polite and courteous, even to his political opponents. He runs an efficient office. Moreover he appears to have stumbled upon a clever device to avoid taking any policy stance. If you write to him on an issue – as, for example, I did when I complained about the shabby treatment a former colleague of mine from Singapore received at Heathrow Immigration – his practice is to forward the letter to the Minister concerned. When the standard bureaucratic reply is received back he adds a bland hand written sentence asking if there is anything you wish to say. In this way it allows him to appear concerned about his constituent’s problem without carrying any responsibility for the political decisions – almost always austerity cuts – that gave rise to it.
This sort of pattern ‘nothing to do with me guv’ has now sadly become the defining characteristic of the Liberal Democrats. Vince Cable at Business and Industry displays it whenever he discusses further education or youth unemployment.
Will any of this matter on the doorstep? Undoubtedly we have a whole lot of Liberal Democrat Councillors who will pay the price of their party’s shameful behaviour on student fees. There will be a collapse in the total Liberal Democrat vote across the country. In North Norfolk Norman Lamb won his seat by squeezing the Labour vote. He can no longer claim to represent progressive opinion of any sort and has lost the votes of anyone who is left of centre. He may be in serious trouble here.