Steve Webb is a former Liberal Democrat member of parliament who is best known for having served as Minister of State for Pensions as part of David Cameron’s Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government that was first elected in 2010.
Webb first came to political prominence back when the Liberal Democrats were led by Charles Kennedy upon being made spokesman for health in the party. He also took some time during this period to build his profile among his constituents and the wider politically aware public. He was one of the first members of parliament to take the time to build an online presence, launching his first blog in the year 2004.
Following the election of 2010 and the decision of the Liberal Democrat party to back the Conservatives in a coalition government, Webb found himself elevated to the position of Minister of State for Pensions, a role which he retained throughout the life of the coalition government. He served under a number of different Conservative Secretaries of State and is probably best remembered for spearheading moves which allowed pensioners to cash in a substantial proportion of their pension savings as a lump sum upon retirement. This led to him giving the memorable quote in an interview that he was ‘relaxed’ about the idea of pensioners cashing in a significant proportion of their pension savings upon retirement and spending it on a Lamborghini or other expensive and relatively impractical purchase.
Like many of his fellow Lib Dems, Steve Webb lost his seat at the General Election of 2015, as part of a backlash against the Lib Dem’s decision to join forces with the Conservatives in the 2010 coalition government and the number of Lib Dem policies which had been abandoned as a result. Following this disappointing result, Webb took up an advisory position with the major pensions firm Royal London. He did not seek re-election to the government in the snap General Election of 2017. It is unlikely that this vote would have prompted his return to parliament as the Lib Dems struggled to make any significant progress beyond their 2015 result in the election.
Webb served as part of a coalition government that did not have particularly strong opinions on gambling, whether that took place in casinos, high street betting shops or online. The major issue at the time was around Fixed Odds Betting Machines and the impact that they have on the communities in which they are located. During Webb’s tenure in government, the popularity of online casinos continued to grow, but Webb expressed few, if any, opinions about the issue.
Overall, Steve Webb is a fairly classic example of the impact that the decision to enter coalition government had on Liberal Democrat politicians. While it can be argued that he managed to make some impact during his time as a Minister of State, the decision that he and his party made to support the majority of Conservative policies turned much of their voting base against them. The party has yet to recover its standing in this group.