Tag Archives: norman lamb

Want to see Norman Lamb in lycra?

It is dangerous for politicians to make pledges during an election campaign. I’m sure you all know what I am talking about – Stephen Tall’s pledge to run naked down Whitehall.

And then there was Vince Cable’s hat.

But Norman Lamb rashly said he would join a zumba class if he won his seat in North Norfolk, which, of course, he did.

But he did it!

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The new standard bearer for science and innovation is… Norman Lamb

Congratulations to Norman Lamb, the newly-elected Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, who overcame competition from fellow Lib Dem Jo Swinson.

In seeking the role, Norman pledged to offer “sound guidance, leadership and authority” to the Committee and ensure that science and technology are “fully considered in Brexit negotiations”, all while emphasising the importance of science for the UK’s future prosperity.

The new role gives Norman a great opportunity to hold this Government to account on a whole range of issues covering science, technology, research and innovation.

This is especially important in today’s political landscape, because Parliament’s Select Committees have become increasingly powerful in the last couple of years – and they can only get stronger with a weakened Government in place.

(To see what I’m talking about, it’s worth reading a recent paper by the Institute for Government that talks about how Select Committees can exert their influence during a hung-parliament). 

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It’s Swinson vs Lamb today

Today, MPs elect their Select Committee chairs. The Liberal Democrats are to chair the Science and Technology Committee. The House will have the chance to choose between two of our MPs, Norman Lamb and Jo Swinson.

Each has produced a statement in support of their candidacy:

Jo Swinson

Statement

“more collegiate than tribal” – Telegraph

Collegiate

Even the Telegraph said I’m collegiate, and they’re not known for their love of Lib Dems.  If you’ve been in Parliament for many years, I hope you agree that I engaged constructively with MPs regardless of party when I was a Minister: from pubs to payday lending, employment rights to equalities.  If you’re newer, you don’t need to take my word for it, do ask your colleagues.  And feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or ideas.

Fair

Select Committees are about the art of asking good questions to get to the heart of an issue.  It’s a wonderful privilege – and fascinating – to be able to quiz experts on any given subject, and I hugely enjoyed my time on the Environmental Audit Committee from 2007-2010.  Every member of a Select Committee has an important role to play.  In creating reports and recommendations for Government, Select Committees should be both challenging and constructive: giving credit where it’s due, and being bold about where change is needed.

Enthused by science and technology

Science and technology offer hope for the advancement of society, as an engine of growth for the economy, and to solve the big problems we face as humanity, from climate change to disease.  The UK has a pivotal role to play, with a well-respected scientific community that should be supported and celebrated.  I’m enthused by these opportunities, as an early adopter of technology for democratic engagement, a former Vice-Chair of the Prime Minister’s Digital Taskforce, and having served as a Non-Executive Director of a data science start-up.  My constituency is home to the Beatson Institute, a world-class science facility focused on cancer research.

Can v Should

Science rightly pushes the frontiers of knowledge, and asks “Can we?”.  In public policy terms, we must also ask “Should we?”  Ethical questions range from balancing online privacy with security to preventing artificial intelligence entrenching current inequalities, from how to assess the benefit of new pharmaceuticals to understanding fully the impact of drones and driverless cars on employment.  The Select Committee should play a crucial role in exploring these dilemmas and finding a path forward.

Norman Lamb

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Mental Health deaths must not be neglected

This October,  I will have been associated with the Liberals and the Liberal Democrats for some 45 years. In 1972 I joined the Liberal Students at Manchester University Medical School where my best subjects were Psychology and Psychiatry so it is unsurprising, perhaps, that I have not only pursued the interests of the NHS as a whole but have also retained a special interest in Mental Health matters.

One of the much-trumpeted achievements of the Llib Dems in Coalition was to raise the profile of mental health within the NHS and Norman Lamb in particular pushed the need for an earmarked expansion of funding so that Mental Health Services (whether we talk about Alzheimers or child psychiatry services) could reach a ‘level playing field’ with physical health matters.

But has this happened?  Two years after the Coalition has ended, there are reports that mental Health Services have been CUT across a wide range of NHS Trusts.  It is fine for Theresa May to talk the talk but does her government walk the walk?

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No Normtroopers this time – Norman Lamb won’t stand for leader

Well there’s a surprise. I had honestly thought that Norman Lamb would stand again to be leader.

This afternoon, though, he has ruled himself out in an article for the Guardian:

I have just fought a gruelling campaign to win my North Norfolk seat. Attempting to win a seat for the Liberal Democrats in an area that voted quite heavily to leave the EU was bound to be a challenge. Not only was the party’s position on Brexit toxic to many erstwhile Liberal Democrat voters in North Norfolk, but I found myself sympathising with those who felt that the party was not listening to them and was treating them with some disdain.

I abstained on article 50 because I felt it was wrong in principle to vote against, given that we had all voted to hold the referendum in the first place. For many in the party that abstention was an act of betrayal. I have been accused of supporting a hard Brexit – the last thing I want – while a Lib Dem source told the London Evening Standard this week that the abstention “looks like he can’t make a tough call”. It is actually quite tough to go against your party, and I did it on a matter of principle.

He’s realised that his position on the EU puts him at odds with a large number of members, especially since so many joined after the EU referendum. 

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Queen’s Speech Round-up: What the Liberal Democrats said about it

The Lib Dem Press Office has issued a veritable storm of press releases in response to the Queen’s Speech today. Here’s a round-up of what our key figures said about their areas of expertise.

Tim Farron looked at the whole speech and was unimpressed:

This slimmed down Queen’s Speech shows a government on the edge.

Having dropped everything from the Dementia Tax to fox hunting I assume the only reason they have proposed a Space Bill is so they can shoot their manifesto into space and pretend it never existed.

People up and down the country are seeing our schools and hospitals in crisis.

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Grenfell Tower fire: Answers, accountability and help are needed

At approximately 00:54 on Wednesday morning an horrific fire was reported at Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, London. Within half an hour the flames were reported to have engulfed an entire side of the building, leaving many people trapped inside. We need answers and to do whatever we can to help the victims and ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.

Firstly, The Guardian has are some questions that need to be answered:

  • How did the fire start?
  • Why did the fire spread so quickly? Was the recently fitted new cladding at fault?
  • Did the new gas pipes, which were

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 33 Comments
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