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="http://www.libdemvoice.org/who-was-the-person-who-faked-the-norman-lamb-...">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="http://duncanborrowman.blogspot.com/2007/08/who-is-82118116193.html">Duncan Barrowman and the href="http://norfolkblogger.blogspot.com/2007/08/flushing-out-fake-norman-lamb...">Norfolk
Blogger stepped up the hunt for the illusive 82.118.116.193, 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
Ion
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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Richmond is a wake-up call for Labour's Brexit strategy

No one made Labour stand in Richmond Park. 

Oh, Labour Party. There was a way through.

No one made you stand in Richmond Park. You could have "struck a blow against the government", you could have shared the Lib Dem success. Instead, you lost both your dignity and your deposit. And to cap it all (Christian Wolmar, take a bow) you self-nominated for a Nobel Prize for Mansplaining.

It’s like the party strategist is locked in the bowels of HQ, endlessly looping in reverse Olivia Newton John’s "Making a Good Thing Better".

And no one can think that today marks the end of the party’s problems on Brexit.

But the thing is: there’s no need to Labour on. You can fix it.

Set the government some tests. Table some amendments: “The government shall negotiate having regard to…”

  • What would be good for our economy (boost investment, trade and jobs).
  • What would enhance fairness (help individuals and communities who have missed out over the last decades).
  • What would deliver sovereignty (magnify our democratic control over our destiny).
  • What would improve finances (what Brexit makes us better off, individually and collectively). 

And say that, if the government does not meet those tests, the Labour party will not support the Article 50 deal. You’ll take some pain today – but no matter, the general election is not for years. And if the tests are well crafted they will be easy to defend.

Then wait for the negotiations to conclude. If in 2019, Boris Johnson returns bearing cake for all, if the tests are achieved, Labour will, and rightly, support the government’s Brexit deal. There will be no second referendum. And MPs in Leave voting constituencies will bear no Brexit penalty at the polls.

But if he returns with thin gruel? If the economy has tanked, if inflation is rising and living standards have slumped, and the deficit has ballooned – what then? The only winners will be door manufacturers. Across the country they will be hard at work replacing those kicked down at constituency offices by voters demanding a fix. Labour will be joined in rejecting the deal from all across the floor: Labour will have shown the way.

Because the party reads the electorate today as wanting Brexit, it concludes it must deliver it. But, even for those who think a politician’s job is to channel the electorate, this thinking discloses an error in logic. The task is not to read the political dynamic of today. It is to position itself for the dynamic when it matters - at the next general election

And by setting some economic tests for a good Brexit, Labour can buy an option on that for free.

An earlier version of this argument appeared on Jolyon Maugham's blog Waiting For Tax.

Jolyon Maugham is a barrister who advised Ed Miliband on tax policy. He blogs at Waiting for Tax, and writes for the NS on tax and legal issues.