Comment: Why I’m backing Norman Lamb to lead the Lib Dems, by Lynne Featherstone

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Former Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone explains why she is backing Norman Lamb to lead her party.

Not for the first time in the history of the party, the Lib Dems are faced with adversity – after the crushing loss of a huge number of our dedicated and hardworking colleagues.

But we are a party of survivors – and it has been incredible to see the surge of support for the party in the last two weeks.

Over 13,000 people have signed up to the Party since the general election. These new members have joined because they see the need for a liberal voice in our country.

I know what it is like to be the only LibDem in the Home Office – with Conservatives as your coalition partners and Theresa May as your Secretary of State. And you want to do liberal things – that are not in the coalition agreement!

What I am saying is that doing liberal things in a coalition government with coalition partners who are more often than not diametrically opposed is a huge challenge. Having got our hands on the levers of power – could we use that power liberally?

Norman Lamb could and did!

Norman is a politician of conviction and integrity – like me, he is not a career politician. He got into politics to campaign and to fight for the things that he believes in – truly liberal policies.

In the most challenging of circumstances, he campaigned in government to bring mental health – so long the poor relation to physical health – to the forefront of the political debate, achieving parity of waiting times and esteem for the first time. This is an incredible achievement.

I am worried that after the crushing defeat we’ve experienced we will take the easy option and retreat into our comfort zone.

I don’t want to spend the next few years looking inwards and forgetting that we have a duty to those that look to us to be their mouthpiece – to be that liberal voice in politics that suddenly people have realised is so valuable.

Nick’s fantastic and moving resignation speech reminded us all of that. That is why we have so many new members and the number is still rising!

The challenge is urgent and we must reach out – both to our members, new and old, and to liberals across the country – whether they currently identify as Liberal Democrats or not!

We need to find a clear voice and vision for the future – to speak loudly and proudly about our liberalism and we need a leader with the courage to do this.

That is why I am wholeheartedly backing Norman to be our leader – more than that – I am chairing his campaign.
Norman is a doer. He will warm us all up again, make us proud of what we have achieved in coalition and reach inside and outside the party to help us walk tall again.

We have two great candidates – but for me – the answer is Norman.

Lynne Featherstone is the former MP for Hornsey and Wood Green.

This article will be published later today on Lib Dem Voice.