Lamb for Lib Dem leader

29 Jun

lambforleaderlogoI’ve decided to vote for Norman Lamb as the next leader of the Liberal Democrats.

It’s not an easy choice. Tim Farron has many qualities and if the party as a whole opts for him, I’m confident he will inspire us to bounce back. He’s a strong orator and an energetic campaigner. I’m particularly enthused by his emphasis on fighting for affordable housing, and his genuine commitment to local government as an important end in itself, not just as a stepping stone to winning parliamentary seats. He’s a true liberal and, win or lose, a central part of our recovery.

But I want a clear strategic direction for the party. We didn’t always get it right during the coalition but we achieved so much too. We should aspire to government and influence, not to the purity of opposition. Lets not look back on the pre-coalition years with rose-tinted glasses – we made mistakes on tuition fees in 2009 as well as in 2010, and we should learn from that. I don’t want to be part of the ‘soggy, split the difference centre’. But nor do I want to drift to the left and the comfort zone of opposition, defending every penny of state spending and appearing indifferent to the private sector.

Britain is a liberal country and as I set out in another blog I believe that a party that clearly commits to both economic liberalism, and liberalism on social issues, can grow and attract people who voted Tory or Labour in 2015.

I would like Norman to set out more of his thinking on the economy and tax. But this Liberal Reform interview suggests he is the candidate closer to the economic centre ground of fiscal responsibility, supporting enterprise and employment, fairer taxes and delivering good quality public services. If you don’t think these issues are important when it comes to winning elections in the UK, then look at the Labour party.

As liberals, we should put forward ideas on the reform of public services, focusing on specific outcomes that improve people’s lives, rather than just on pouring more money in at the centre and assuming it will get results. Norman’s record and passion on improving mental health services is a great example of this.

Despite some of the noise in this campaign, I don’t doubt that Tim leans liberal on social issues. But Norman has committed more clearly to an exciting new radical liberal agenda, such as reform of drugs laws and reducing the prisoner population. I also like his enthusiasm for communicating liberal values, tackling injustice and trusting people.

Norman conveys and combines authority with accessibility, decency with determination. I’m impressed by the breadth of his supporters and advocates both inside and outside the party. I will be backing him as our next leader.

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2 Responses to “Lamb for Lib Dem leader”

  1. John Bryant June 30, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    The difference between the two is that Norman is good at speaking to liberals like us, but Tim is better at communicating with the wider public, and it is this wider community whose votes make the difference.

    • jamesrobking June 30, 2015 at 10:57 am #

      Not sure I agree – I think Tim is strongest at making party activists feel good, while Norman comes across very well in broadcast interviews, and may appeal more to swing voters, particularly if he adopts the right strategic position for the party. But understand why others put different weight on their skills.

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