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Friday, 14 June, 2002, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
'I'm no bore' says Baker
Norman Baker
Norman Baker: 'used to be in a rock band'
Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker has hit back at claims he is the most boring man in Parliament.

Norman Baker
Born Aberdeen, 1957
BA German and History, London University
Former leader of Lewes Council
Environmental campaigner
Former wine shop manager and record retailer
In his relatively short time in the Commons, the Lewes MP has gained a formidable reputation for his dogged, persistent questioning.

The former music industry executive and English teacher asked more parliamentary questions in his first three months as an MP than his predecessor, Conservative Tim Rathbone, asked in 23 years.

Mr Baker is also credited with torpedoing the parliamentary career of former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson's, with his relentless pursuit the Hinduja passport affair.

Root canal surgery

Earlier this year, the Liberal Democrat backbencher was named Channel 4's opposition politician of the year.


I don't think I am boring

Norman Baker
He was also named "inquisitor of the year" by The Spectator magazine.

But it seems not everyone is a fan of the mild-mannered Aberdonian's forensic style.

His name was the first that sprang to Labour MP Stephen Pound's mind at Prime Minister's Question Time on Wednesday, when he was searching for an example of a tedium.

Mr Pound was reacting to Peter Mandelson's suggestion that Labour supporters "were all Thatcherites now".

"There are those of us who would rather have root canal surgery without anaesthetic or be cast away with the honourable member for Lewes and no ear plugs - or even to be entertained for a full and frank discussion with the Whips office than accept such a description," Mr Pound told MPs to gales of laughter.

'Super-bore'

The boring jibes date back to 1997, when parliamentary sketch writer Matthew Paris devoted a whole column to Mr Baker, describing him as a "classic House of Commons bore".


He bores for Britain. He is a super-bore

Matthew Parris
The former Tory MP was unrepentant on Friday, describing Mr Baker on BBC Radio 4's Today programme as "spectacularly boring".

"He bores for Britain. He is a super-bore.

"You sit up in the middle of what he is talking about, stunned and amazed that anybody could be so boring."

But Mr Parris added: "You underestimate him at your peril.

"He has a habit of being right. He sticks to his guns and I think his constituents are very lucky to have him."

Interesting life

Mr Baker has taken the slurs in his stride.

Stephen Pound
Pound: 'Good joke'
"All sorts of things get attached to you, if you are a politician. You cannot choose them," he told Today.

He said Mr Pound had "half-apologised" for his joke, which Mr Baker admitted had been a good one.

The Liberal Democrat backbencher - who once admitted he "listened to Queen's Speeches since I was in short trousers" - has been a tireless campaigner on environmental issues and animal welfare.

On his election in 1997, he promised to "work full time. There will be no outside interests. I will keep in touch."

But despite his single-minded approach to politics, Mr Baker feels he has a had a more interesting life than many members of the Westminster village.

"I have done a whole range of jobs in my life. I used to be in a rock band, I ran a railway station, ran a wine shop, been a director of a record company.

"I have a nice wife and family. I don't think I am boring," he said.

See also:

21 Sep 01 | Liberal Democrats
13 Mar 01 | UK Politics
08 Nov 01 | UK Politics

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