Snub for Lib-Dem MP Norman Lamb
Chris Fisher, political editorBig questions were being asked at Westminster last night about the omission of North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb from the list of ministerial appointments in the new government.Chris Fisher, political editor
Big questions were being asked at Westminster last night about the omission of North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb from the list of ministerial appointments in the new government.
As shadow health secretary for the Liberal Democrats in the last parliament, he had been expected to get a top ministerial post once it became clear that his party would form a coalition government with the Conservatives. He was even being tipped to become health secretary because some Conservative MPs preferred him to Andrew Lansley.
But he failed to win not only a cabinet post but also a middle-ranking ministerial position. And the mystery deepened when his name was also missing from a name of over 35 junior ministerial appointments published last night by 10 Downing Street.
Mr Lamb has long been seen as a rising star in his party after massively raising his majority in his constituency to over 10,000 in 2005. Despite boundary changes to his disadvantage, he pushed that figure to above 11,600 last week.
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A logical appointment for him would have been as minister of state - the number two ministerial job - in the department of health. But that went instead to his party colleague Paul Burstow, who had been the Lib Dems chief whip. Mr Lamb was unavailable for comment last night.
NW Norfolk Conservative MP Henry Bellingham has been appointed a junior foreign office minister. But there was a dashing of hopes for Broadland Tory MP Keith Simpson, who failed to get a ministerial post despite having been on his party's frontbench in opposition since 1998 - mainly as a foreign affairs and defence spokesman. There was also no mention of Bury St Edmunds Tory David Ruffley, who has been shadow minister for police reform since 2007. Both men may have been victims of the prime minister's need to allocate several posts to Lib Dems. Mr Bellingham had had shadow government positions since 2002, and in recent years had been shadow minister for constitutional affairs.
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If Mr Bellingham is confirmed as the only minister from a Norfolk or Suffolk seat, it will raise great concerns among local party activists about lack of regional balance.
It may also reopen wounds caused in the controversy over last year's selection of Elizabeth Truss as the party's candidate for SW Norfolk. 'This is Cameron's revenge on the Turnip Taliban', said a Westminster insider last night.