Meet the Brexit-supporting businessman looking to become the next North Norfolk MP
PUBLISHED: 09:21 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:29 15 February 2019
The Conservative's prospective parliamentary candidate for North Norfolk at the next general election, Duncan Baker, has been setting out his priorities and laying down his marker. The man he will most probably have to beat to become the MP is Lib Dem Norman Lamb, who has been in office since 2001, and will take some beating. Reporter DAVID BALE spoke to them both...
It is one of the region’s most fiercely-contested political constituencies.
Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb has held on to his position as MP for North Norfolk for 18 years, having fought off a long line of Conservative candidates.
The new man aiming to dethrone Mr Lamb is a well-known face in the district.
Brexit supporter Duncan Baker is finance director of the long-established family business Bakers and Larners, a high end department store in Holt, and has been involved in local politics for a decade. Firstly, he served as a town councillor and one-time mayor, in Holt, and has been a district councillor since 2017.
The political turmoil at North Norfolk District Council, which provides an intriguing backdrop to the parliamentary contest, has seen a shift of power in the other direction, with the Liberal Democrats taking control of the council from the Conservatives in November last year.
Norman Lamb is yet to confirm if he will stand for the next election, but suggested it is likely, saying: “I’ve certainly got no plans to give up anytime soon.”
Mr Baker, meanwhile, said he is “raring to go”, but thinks an early election this summer would not be good for the country.
He said: “I’m proud to be the candidate. I feel it’s much better to get investment in north Norfolk through a sitting Conservative MP, as I firmly believe we will win the next election. We have not had a strong voice in government, and been left lagging behind.
“I want to be Conservative MP here for many years to come.
“People in north Norfolk want a candidate who knows the area.”
The 39-year-old, who lives in Aylmerton, added: “I’ve been involved in politics and community work here for 10 years.
“North Norfolk is my home. I was born at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and grew up in Holt. I went to Holt Primary, Gresham’s school.”
Mr Baker went on to attend Nottingham Trent university.
He took his chartered accountancy exams at Baker Tilly in London, no relation, and met his wife Nina there.
He said: “We’ve been together 16 years and married for 10 years. We have two girls - Isabelle, seven, and Eleanor, two.
“Nina’s really excited for me.
“Politics is a passion for me. It’s an opportunity to do something that can help people in their lives, and make north Norfolk a better place to live and work in.
“I’m not a career politician and I think I’ve got skills that would be useful in Westminster.”
He’s a supporter of Brexit and said: “I was heavily involved in the referendum in 2016. About 60pc of people in north Norfolk voted out, and we need to deliver on that. We need to either get a deal that will be accepted in Parliament or leave without one. I don’t think we should be afraid. We can make Great Britain great again.”
His priorities for north Norfolk involve creating more jobs, and making the region more sustainable.
He added: “I see so many talented people in the area. Why can’t we be like Cambridge and have a mini-Silicon Valley here?”
Mr Lamb said it was “far too early to say whether he would be standing again” at the next general election.
He said: “We only had an election one and a half years ago.
“I had this health shock last year, and have got on with my work since then.
“I’ve certainly got no plans to give up anytime soon.
“Tory challengers have come and gone. Thankfully, I have been able to win against everyone put up against me.
“My focus remains on my priorities, in particular, campaigning for the support north Norfolk gets in terms of NHS care services, which is especially important with our elderly population.
“I also believe in opportunities for all in education.
“It’s desperately important that we have an alternative voice to the Conservatives in Norfolk.
“If the Tories are in charge of everything, there will be complete complacency.
“This government has failed on education, particularly in rural areas; funding for special needs is dire, as is sorting out care for the elderly, and their failure to deliver broadband for rural areas.
“One more Tory in a sea of blue means Norfolk will be taken for granted, and we won’t get any attention.
“There’s no evidence from the rest of Norfolk that having a sitting Tory MP, when they are in power, is better for Norfolk.”