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.