“Goodbye Norman, you’ll be a hard act to follow” Robert Jack – Managing Editor of Passenger Transport

Robert Jack the Managing Editor of Passenger Transport has written the following regarding Norman’s move away from the Department for Transport:

 Norman Baker’s promotion to minister of state at the Home Office has caused a bit of a stir in the Westminster Village, with the deputy political editor of the Daily Mirror suggesting that he was a “a human jamming device”, planted there by Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg “to disrupt Theresa May’s signal”. Although it didn’t attract the same amount of publicity, his appointment as parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Transport back in May 2010 also raised eyebrows. However, Baker gained widespread respect during his three years, four months and 22 days at the DfT, and he won over many of those who doubted him initially, Few in the bus industry celebrated his arrival, but they lamented his departure this week.

Of course, his relatively long tenure in office helped him to make an impact. The transport sector sees ministers come and go like  trains at Clapham Junction, and it’s for this reason that Baker was given a special long service award at last year’s UK Bus Awards!

Baker took on the job at a time when money was very tight, but he displayed an ability to sniff out spare funds and siphon them off into a strong vision for the future of travel, and passenger transport was at the very heart of it – delivering seamless door-to-door journeys.

A new benchmark has been set for what the sector expects from its ministers. Goodbye Norman, you’ll be a tough act to follow.


Tim Farron writes… A liberal win on ‘Go Home’ vans

Since I have been President I have worked hard to try and make sure members views are heard in the heart of government.  Banging on ministerial doors to try and make policy after policy better and more liberal.

Over the summer the ‘Go Home’ vans came onto our streets.  At the time I joined Sarah Teather and, oddly, Nigel Farage to oppose them. (Who says politics doesn’t give you strange bedfellows!)

My view was clear both then and now: The vans represented the worst kind of divisive politics and they wouldn’t work.

It is important that our borders are protected and secure, but this policy – driving a van around some of the most diverse communities in London – is not the way to deliver that.

Full story: http://bit.ly/18HDD7n

As PM promotes man who believes our spies covered up scientist’s murder… Will we now learn the truth about the death of Dr Kelly?

Government re-shuffles normally pass most people by, particularly when they involve middle-ranking or junior ministers. I must confess I find it pretty difficult myself to get worked up on such occasions.

But Monday’s moving of the deckchairs produced one change that sent my head spinning. The maverick Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker has been promoted to a number two position in the Home Office.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was not told  in advance of the appointment by Downing Street.

Her reported fury will certainly be shared by the security services for which she is responsible — and whose views she takes exceptionally seriously.

For this same Norman Baker has written a book claiming that our very own British spooks covered up the murder of the weapons scientist Dr David Kelly by an Iraqi hit squad in July 2003. The verdict delivered by Lord Hutton in his official report was ‘suicide’.

Mr Baker’s promotion has already been attacked  by Establishment-minded commentators. Some more neutrally-minded people may also think that on the subject of Dr Kelly’s death, the Lib Dem MP took leave of his senses.

I disagree. As it happens, I don’t share Mr Baker’s belief that Dr Kelly was murdered, but it seems that there are disturbing questions which have never been answered by the authorities. It remains incredible that there has not been a full inquest into his death.

Far from being a crazed conspiracy theorist as his detractors allege, Mr Baker is a brave and sensible man who wrote an analytical book, having given up his place on the Lib Dem front bench to undertake the research. Is it too much to hope, now he is at the centre of government, that his questions might finally be addressed?

Full story: http://dailym.ai/1hAg1CT



Matthew Parris My Week

In his My Week column in the Times, Matthew Parris writes:

There can hardly be a newspaper reader in Britiain who has not now heard that Norman Baker, the new junior billeted on Thresesa May at the Home Office after last week’s ministerial reshuffle, was a ‘conspiracy theorist’ who ‘believed the weapons scientist Dr David Kelly had been murdered’ – and that Mrs May was ‘spitting tacks’ at the arrival of ‘the green-ink brigade’. Well, Norman, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. The leaks, giggles and anonymous sneers struck me as a concerted Tory strategy to rubbish Mr Baker.

Wise? I’ve been a Baker-watcher ever since, as a parliamentary sketchwriter, I described him as so boring it was riveting how boring he was. But he is also hard-working, clever, careful, persistent, patient and principled. And he’s a himan; if you prick him, he bleeds; he will have been wounded over the campaign to trash him before he even started.

Now he’s embedded right at the heart of the Home Office – that ant hill of muddle, incompetence, cover-up and low politics – with access to records, memos and documents, with all the time in the world; and with hatred in his heart.  

Murder in Marsham Street. My guess is that if there’s a  ministerial resignation at the Home Office before 2015, it won’t be Mr Baker’s.