About three months ago, I sat in Bristol University Student's Union for an hour to listen to one of the most impressively progressive men in British politics. Norman Lamb is the future.
Do not be deceived by his age, or his general weary look that can be found on any remaining member of the Liberal Democrat party, Norman Lamb is a true social visionary. With the departure of Nick Clegg, another bastion of social reform, the top spot in the Lib Dem camp is now vacant.
Whilst Tim Farron is currently emerging as the clear front runner, this race is by no means won. Farron might have support from a handful of influential people in the party, but his CV doesn't read anywhere near as well as Lamb's. Norman Lamb very much represents the lifeblood of the Liberal Democrats' core values - values that are clinging on to what's left of the party for dear life. With the former position of health minister under his belt, Lamb is set to give Farron his biggest challenge over the next two months.
One of the most neglected issues in modern society is mental health. One in four people will be affected by it, and those who are often receive stigma from wider society because of it. If there's one person who has put his politics where his mouth is on this issue - it's Norman Lamb. He doesn't just bring this issue up to win votes around election time, he campaigns wholeheartedly for this day in, day out. In the very talk I saw him give on this topic, a matter of weeks before 7 May, he didn't even mention the election once.
Another one of the big debates that is only just starting to break through the wall of the Westminster bureaucracy is assisted dying. Although it may need reform, thanks to a House of Lords with a significant Lib Dem presence, this issue is starting to see the light of day. It may not surprise you to hear that Norman Lamb has openly said to the Independent newspaper that he would back an assisted dying bill.
These core Liberal values have been lost amongst cries of "back stabbers" over the last five years, but the Liberal Democrats are by no means down and out. They've already seen a huge surge in new memberships and a fresh face at the helm is exactly what is needed to rebuild the party. One of the criticisms they've received in recent weeks is that the party just isn't 'needed' anymore. But with Britain lurching to the right in the last general election, and with the Green's only achievement being to split the left wing vote, the Liberal Democrats are set to make a strong return as the genuine party of progressiveness and protest.
And that just leaves on question, who's values do we want at the head of this returning protest vote? Do we want those of Tim Farron? Although he has no extremely disagreeable ideas, his committed Christianity seems likely to interfere with the progressiveness of the party, and his focus on social media campaigning seems a little misplaced. Or do we want Norman Lamb? A genuine, rational, and caring human being. A man who is willing to speak for the people who will not be listened to, regardless of the votes it may lose him. So I urge you, if you are a member of the Liberal Democrats, or are thinking of becoming one: vote for Norman Lamb.Suggest a correction