North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb says Lib Dems are ‘floundering’

Norman Lamb has said his party need to 'understand peoples frustrations and discontents, not dismis

Norman Lamb has said his party need to 'understand peoples frustrations and discontents, not dismiss them' ahead of conference. PHOTO: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb has fired an eve-of-conference salvo saying his own party is 'floundering' and 'struggling to assert' its relevance.

The North Norfolk MP's biting comments come as the Lib Dems gather in Bournemouth for their annual conference, the first with new leader Sir Vince Cable at the helm.

Writing for The Liberator Mr Lamb said: 'The Lib Dems are floundering in the single digits, struggling to assert our relevance in a volatile political climate.

'Liberals have to ask ourselves why we have been so roundly rejected at the last two elections, why our very existence is being so embarrassingly ignored at a time when the need for a progressive Liberal force, which could genuinely compete for power, is greater than ever.

'Corbyn offers no solutions to the big challenges we face. But it has become painfully obvious that many people simply do not know what the Liberal Democrats stand for.

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'We have failed to articulate how our principles are relevant to people's lives, their concerns and anxieties. We came across to many of our natural supporters as arrogantly dismissing their views. I met countless people who felt that we regarded them as stupid for voting for Brexit. This is never a good position for a political party.'

He goes on to list what the Lib Dems can do to improve including calling for a 'radical liberal' economic vision, encouraging the state to influence corporate culture and transferring power from 'bureaucracy to the citizen'.

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He adds: 'If we are to rebuild our party and become the fulcrum of a new liberal progressive force, we have to first understand people's frustrations and discontents, not dismiss them.

'We then have to define an optimistic and compelling vision which resonates with people. We have to win the battle of ideas for how we meet the big challenges – re-defining ourselves as a radical, dynamic and positive force for change. We will not win by just opposing, defending the status quo, hurling abuse at our opponents.'

The Liberal Democrats gained four seats at the general election but their vote share nationally dropped. In the foreword to the conference programmme Sir Vince said: 'We need to give people power over the decisions which affect their lives.'

Happy Birthday Mr Lamb

Norman Lamb won't be throwing shapes on the dance floor at the famous Liberal Democrat disco at conference this year – he has another party to attend instead.

The North Norfolk MP will celebrate his 60th birthday on Saturday meaning he won't travel to Bournemouth until Sunday.

'I have to get the party out of the way before I go to conference,' he said. 'I have celebrated my birthday at conference many times and I have been to the disco but this is a big one.

'I can't say I am looking forward to being 60 – but I am sure the party will be fun.'

The Lib Dem disco – which in the past featured a DJ set by former leader Paddy Ashdown – is one of the highlights of conference where MPs and delegates let their hair down and hit the dance floor.

This year the flyer reads: 'Come strut your stuff on Saturday night - running until 1am!'

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