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Lunch with Norman Lamb

Shortly after I made my previous post about the Lib Dem leadership election, I got invited to a lunch with Norman Lamb in Brussels last Friday. As I wrote last weekend, I knew very little about Norman Lamb, except that he had been a minister in the coalition government and that he had the backing of a number of party heavyweights - though only one of the other surviving MPs (Farron has three other MPs supporting him, with Clegg and Carmichael silent as far as I can tell). So I went along, with my ballot paper in my pocket and an open mind, ready to change my #1 Farron vote if I was sufficiently convinced.

The discussion was a private one among a group of about twenty, most of them Lib Dem members based in Brussels, and concentrated entirely on policy; the leadership campaign was barely mentioned. I was impressed despite myself. As various friends who are more involved than I am have reported, Lamb is clearly cerebral and reflective, and wants to get the best information available from many different sources. He did not pitch us; he asked for our views (which I gave at some length, though he was nice about it afterwards).

So I ended the meeting reassured on substance at least, if Lamb rather than Farron is elected on Wednesday. However, my prejudice on style was reinforced: Farron speaks from the heart, Lamb from the head. At this point, I think the party needs passion as well as reflection. If the party ends up with Farron as leader and Lamb as spokesman on EU policy, there may be some hope of that. So I dropped my vote unchanged into the postbox on Rue de Treves as I walked back to my office.

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strange_complex
Jul. 12th, 2015 07:54 pm (UTC)
I voted the same way as you in the end, but (as I've said elsewhere) I think there is a huge amount to like and respect about Norman Lamb, and your snapshot of him learning and discussing in Brussels confirms that impression. I genuinely hope he does well when the votes are counted up on Wednesday.
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