Being Norman Lamb

The Lib Dem health spokesman gets faked on Facebook

In an unprecedented turn of events, the blogosphere was focused on East Anglia for much of this week.

Recent reports of identity thieves finding a rich resource on Facebook were highlighted in the ongoing saga involving the profile on the social networking site of Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb. A brief history of which is covered at Lib Dem Voice.

The same IP address was shown to be responsible for tampering with Lamb’s Wikipedia entry and also uploading an anti-Lib Dem video on YouTube. Various Conservative comments have been made from the same IP address across the internet and there have also been 12 comments from eight “different” people on Lib Dem Voice.

After much href="">digging
around in the murky world of internet fakery, Mark Pack believes he has found the culprit.

The permutations of the affair rippled across the blogosphere. The Bloggerheads blog pointed the finger at an unspecified Tory. While, Iain Dale, Lamb’s North Norfolk opponent in the 2005 general election, was keen to condemn the culprit and distance himself from the debacle.

As href="">Duncan Barrowman and the href="">Norfolk
Blogger stepped up the hunt for the illusive, Nich Starling concluded: “It is in everyone’s interests that whoever is behind this is exposed.”

Lamb had had to apologise last week to Norfolk and Norwich hospital after his claims about kitchen hygiene turned out to be unfounded. He was not the only MP apologising for false accusations about Norfolk’s hospitals. On the first day of David Cameron’s fight back he published a list of 29 district hospitals which would have to close their maternity wards due to funding cuts.

One of which was in fellow Tory MP Henry Bellingham’s Kings Lynn constituency. Bellingham then claimed the allegation was false and apologised “unreservedly” to staff at the hospital. In Nich Starling’s post about the incident he backs up Bellingham’s claims despite Cameron reiterating his original statement.

Following the incident, which has been termed the “Dodgy Hospital Dossier”, Mike
lists the various responses from hospitals refuting Cameron’s claims.

A week I’m sure the Tories would like to forget as they came out less popular in East Anglia than Alan Partridge following his comments about farmers.

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
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For the first time in my life I have a sworn enemy – and I don’t even know her name

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

Last month, I made an enemy. I do not say this lightly, and I certainly don’t say it with pride, as a more aggressive male might. Throughout my life I have avoided confrontation with a scrupulousness that an unkind observer would call out-and-out cowardice. A waiter could bring the wrong order, cold and crawling with maggots, and in response to “How is everything?” I’d still manage a grin and a “lovely, thanks”.

On the Underground, I’m so wary of being a bad citizen that I often give up my seat to people who aren’t pregnant, aren’t significantly older than me, and in some cases are far better equipped to stand than I am. If there’s one thing I am not, it’s any sort of provocateur. And yet now this: a feud.

And I don’t even know my enemy’s name.

She was on a bike when I accidentally entered her life. I was pushing a buggy and I wandered – rashly, in her view – into her path. There’s little doubt that I was to blame: walking on the road while in charge of a minor is not something encouraged by the Highway Code. In my defence, it was a quiet, suburban street; the cyclist was the only vehicle of any kind; and I was half a street’s length away from physically colliding with her. It was the misjudgment of a sleep-deprived parent rather than an act of malice.

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

I was stung by what someone on The Apprentice might refer to as her negative feedback, and walked on with a redoubled sense of the parental inadequacy that is my default state even at the best of times.

A sad little incident, but a one-off, you would think. Only a week later, though, I was walking in a different part of town, this time without the toddler and engrossed in my phone. Again, I accept my culpability in crossing the road without paying due attention; again, I have to point out that it was only a “close shave” in the sense that meteorites are sometimes reported to have “narrowly missed crashing into the Earth” by 50,000 miles. It might have merited, at worst, a reproving ting of the bell. Instead came a familiar voice. “IT’S YOU AGAIN!” she yelled, wrathfully.

This time the shock brought a retort out of me, probably the harshest thing I have ever shouted at a stranger: “WHY ARE YOU SO UNPLEASANT?”

None of this is X-rated stuff, but it adds up to what I can only call a vendetta – something I never expected to pick up on the way to Waitrose. So I am writing this, as much as anything, in the spirit of rapprochement. I really believe that our third meeting, whenever it comes, can be a much happier affair. People can change. Who knows: maybe I’ll even be walking on the pavement

Mark Watson is a stand-up comedian and novelist. His most recent book, Crap at the Environment, follows his own efforts to halve his carbon footprint over one year.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood