It would be “self-destructive” to change Lib Dem leader ahead of election - Norfolk MPs firmly behind Nick Clegg
12:39 28 May 2014
Archant Norfolk 2014
Liberal Democrat minister Norman Lamb has claimed history will recognised his leader’s vital role in helping the country “turn the corner”, as he gave his full backing to Nick Clegg.
Following heaving defeats in the recent European Election, where all but one Lib Dem Euro MP was wiped out, the North Norfolk MP said concerns about the way Europe operates had to be addressed.
The Deputy Prime Minister insisted this week he will not quit, despite disastrous election results for his party.
Mr Lamb said: “In politics, there have been many occasions where commentators have reported our extinction and it have never proved to be correct.
“Nick personally has done an extraordinarily difficult job in tough circumstances, taking an amazing amount of personal abuse, which is very tough when you have got a family.
“He hasn’t been in parliament that long, but he has acted in the national interest. He is fundamentally a decent man.
“I think history will recognise his vital role in turning the corner when the country faced a very difficult time. That is what we need to focus ruthlessly on; being good in government, being responsible and acting in the national interest, and then, nothing taken for grant, there may be some reward in 2015, when the country decides who they want in government, rather than voting in a European election.”
He said that he would not take his North Norfolk seat for granted, adding: “I always believe you have to justify every vote and that is the right way to behave.
“People think that there is nothing strange in voting UK Independence Party for a particular election and voting in another direction in another election.”
But he also admitted that the Liberal Democrats needed to listen to the discontent on Europe.
Adding: “I think we should take notice of why people voted as they did, and I don’t think we can ignore their concerns at all. “I think we have to address that concern about the way Europe operates. I happen to believe that it would be economically disastrous if we were to leave, but there is a reason why people have lost faith in Europe and we have got to address that and not just dismiss it.”
Norwich MP Simon Wright, who is seen as one of the most vulnerable Liberal Democrats, sitting on a majority of just 310, also gave his full backing to his boss.
Mr Wright, who is an aide to the deputy prime minister, said that the feeling among Eastern region activists was one of disappointment, but they were not unexpected.
“We knew we were going to have a tough time. We have had some times in government where we have had to make some tough decisions.
“We were right to fight that pro-European campaign. It’s important to stand up as a party and say it is in our national interest.”
He said that it would be “self-destructive” to change leader ahead of the election next year.
“I don’t see the circumstances we have gone through being issues that relate to the leadership of the party, so no, I have no reason to believe there should be any reason for change. Nick is doing an outstanding job, and it would be self-destructive to provoke any disunity in the party when the general election is approaching.”