Norman Baker faces a tough poll battle

Share this article

Now that Norman Baker has thrown his ministerial toys out of the pram, citing the Home Secretary, Theresa May, as the cause of his decision, one might question how it was that two other Liberal Democrat MPs, Lynne Featherstone and Jeremy Browne, were able to work amicably with Mrs May in the national interest.

The office of Home Secreta ry has long been regarded as a professional graveyard for politicians yet independent commentators have assessed Mrs May as being one of the most successful holders of this portfolio for many years.

The above observations would suggest that, far from creating a sea of mud through which Mr Baker claims he had to negotiate, Mrs May has concentrated on her brief and the current MP for Lewes is the architect of his own quagmire.

l suspect that Mr Baker’s political femme fatale is not Mrs May but a diminutive blonde bombshell, Maria Caulfield, who is on course to unseat him at the next General Election. What she lacks in inches Ms Caulfield more than makes up for in energy and is, as one of your readers observed some weeks ago, “a breath of

fresh air”, while Mr Baker has delivered nothing of much import during his tenure and has presided over a crumbling, unmodernised infrastructure, Ms Caulfield, a hard-working and compassionate nurse, has used her spare time to campaign without financial reward on issues which should have been addressed years ago.

She has, for example, been involved in the opening of the Seaford Day Hospital whereby patients can receive outpatient care locally instead of having to travel to Eastbourne.

Most important of all Ms Caulfield is working with her political colleague, Caroline Ansell from Eastbourne, to campaign for a dual-carriageway A27 road connecting Lewes with Polegate in the interests of public safety and attracting inward investment to provide more job opportunities in the area.

Mr Baker has disgracefully opposed such infrastructure. His contribution to this dangerous road problem was probably best illustrated by a photograph in your newspaper some time ago which showed him standing on the side of the A27 next to a sign suggesting “lt’s quicker by rail”: a fat lot of good if one is driving a truck from Southampton to Eastbourne!

I do wonder whether Mr Baker is trying to reduce our burgeoning population through means which are hardly rationally defensible. lf legalised cannabis does not get you, then maybe the existing A27 will.

Ms Caulfield and Mrs Ansell also support the reinstatement, track doubling and electrification of the rail link between Lewes and Uckfield. This will give two routes to London from both Lewes and Eastbourne. lt will also give scope for more through trains to London from Seaford and Newhaven.

Whereas Mr Baker sometimes talks a good game, these two ladies have succeeded in bringing both the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick Mcloughlin, and the junior transport minister, John Hayes, down to this area to see for themselves the lack of road and rail infrastructure which must be addressed.

Those who do, rather than those who waffle and complain, are more deserving of our votes.

Michael Richards