Brian Paddick writes: Why I want to be Lib Dem candidate for London Mayor in 2012

There were three necessary but not sufficient conditions that had to be fulfilled before I could declare myself as a candidate to be nominated as the Lib Dem Candidate for Mayor of London in 2012. That I honestly believed that I had the support of a wide range of people from both within and outside the party, that I could do a better job than I did last time and that I was able to offer something other candidates could not. I believe those conditions are now met, which is why I am, here and now, declaring myself to be a candidate. But am I right?

Two weeks ago I was urged to stand but I still needed to be convinced that there were sufficient numbers of activists and other party members who wanted me to run again. I have been humbled and encouraged by the groundswell of support, not just from Lib Dems but from those from outside the party, a crucial factor when it comes to the main contest against Johnson and Livingstone.

The 2008 campaign was a bitter and bruising experience. I had just left the police over the shooting by armed officers of the innocent Brazilian, Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell. It was a case of ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’. I was an uptight, politically naïve ex-police officer with no experience of party campaigning or working with activists. I got a lot wrong.

The campaign slogan then was ‘Serious about London’ (a slogan borrowed with pride this time around I notice) but I was far too serious about everything. I was terrified of Punch and Judy, of Paxman and Sopel and I had unrealistic expectations of what to expect from the party. I was, quite frankly, a bit of a pain! Towards the end, particularly in the televised debates with Comedy and Tragedy, critics said I performed well, but we need a candidate who gets it right from the start. Crucially I know my enemies from last time, up close and personal! Despite everything, I was able to secure 9% of first preference and 26% of second preference votes (more than any other candidate). Surely we can convert some of those second preferences this time?

So what is going to be different? A few weeks ago I was in the office of a London MP who commented on how much I had changed since 2008. I am much happier, more relaxed, more realistic and more experienced now – I have even been spotted smiling in photographs! I have spent the last three years campaigning with ordinary members, delivering ‘Good Mornings’, knocking on doors, talking to voters, addressing rallies and speaking at fundraisers. I have attended every Federal Conference since 2008 and either spoken in debates or contributed from the floor. I know the Party now. I didn’t know the Party then.

The ‘ground war’ is as important as in any other election and the support of activists is crucial. We will only maximise our Assembly vote through a high profile campaign based on our policies and ideas. The Greater London Authority campaign, Mayor and Assembly, also involves a massive ‘air war’. It is a local election that is covered both nationally and internationally – there were live televised debates on ‘Newsnight’, ‘Question Time’ and ‘Sky News’ in 2008. Why? Because the Mayor of London has the second largest mandate in Western Europe after the President of France in terms of people voting for one individual.

My experience of operating in the media arena can perhaps be summed up by the BBC News Channel’s morning anchor when I sat down next to him recently as we were about to go live: “We’ll have to call this the Brian Paddick slot!” For those critics amongst you, my news and current affairs appearances outweigh my light entertainment appearances by at least 100:1. And I am determined that in the 2012 campaign, it will be the “Lib Dem slot”, as much about the Party and the Assembly as it is about the Mayor.

Of course, it does not really matter whether I think the necessary conditions have been met. Whether I have the support of the party will be decided by a vote of London members – having the support of the majority is the necessary and sufficient condition to stand as the Lib Dem candidate. I just think, if you are a London member, you should have the opportunity to vote for me as well as the other candidates.

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25 Comments

  • Brian Paddick 29th Jun '11 - 1:19pm

    Yes, even to those with a sense of humour!

  • Peter Dunphy 29th Jun '11 - 1:35pm

    Having worked closely with Brian last time round I am delighted that he is running again. The campaign last time did have many problems – poor advance planning, lack of funding and resources, and the press pack obsession with Ken vs Boris. These problems would have been much exacerbated had Brian not stood. We will have the same challenges again, but we need a candidate that understands this, has real world leadership and managerial experience and has strong media presence – that means Brian. We don’t want a rookie candidate to relearn these lessons. In addition Brian has now demonstrated his complete long term commitment to the Party working hard in local and parliamentary elections, helping out local parties and speaking up at conferences. He now understands how the Party works and uniquely of the candidates for our nomination what to expect from Ken, Boris, the Press and the Mayoral campaign.

  • Oh no! Not again!

    We did one Paddick campaign. It was terrible. His campaign was pathetic and his ideas and policies worse. Then he ran the marathon in the middle of the campaign!!!

    Brian – you’ve got to find something else to do – for your sake and the party!

  • Since last time Brian has been out campaigning with ordinary members…erm, Brian, are you not an ordinary member then?

  • Peter Dunphy 29th Jun '11 - 2:32pm

    Anna Anonymous – what silly nitpicking, really. If you are a Party member you will know that there are some members who never campaign in elections or deliver leaflets but always go to any fancy dinners and receptions on offer – I certainly know a few – The point is that Brian has always been willing to campaign with other activists in any useful way over the years, particularly at the last London locals/General Election but in local By-Elections etc

  • Brian Paddick 29th Jun '11 - 2:49pm

    The important thing is to have one London Lib Dem manifesto agreed between Mayoral candidate and the Assembly candidates. To set in stone policy ideas now would be like adopting the government line on public sector pensions! My own priorities would be housing – making it easier for everyone to afford a decent place to live i.e. more low-cost rented accommodation that anyone would be pleased to live in, transport – keeping fare increases to a minimum, particularly on buses, to ensure people on lowest incomes can travel to work and make buses and taxis more environmentally friendly, and crime – with burglary and robbery increasing, now is not the time to cut police frontline budgets, police numbers and safer neighbourhood teams. A clear, detailed and costed personal manifesto will follow.

  • Am happy Brian is running again. I don’t want to sound too negative, but a result similar to last time wouldn’t be a bad result at all.

    Good luck Brian.

  • Ed Maxfield 29th Jun '11 - 4:48pm

    Perhaps one innovation would be to give members outside of London a vote so that we can choose a candidate who pledges not to demand more resources than any other election starting from a 9% base would get. And, much as I love and respect Caroline Pidgeon, one that acknowledges there are local elections around the country on the same day so does not plan to treat the national campaigns staff as their own campaigns staff.

    (This is not a comment on Brian Paddick as a candidate. I was publicly sceptical of his candidacy last time round because celebrity candidates with no experience of party politics bring exactly the kind of weaknesses that Brian himself acknowledges above. It is to his credit that he has stuck around and wants to give it another go – he could have sought out a more obvious route to political influence since then.)

  • I’m pleased to see that we’ll have a third option on our ballot papers. Good luck Brian.

  • Kirsten de Keyser 29th Jun '11 - 6:32pm

    I was distinctly underimpressed during Brian’s last campaign but have definitely detected a distinct improvement over the intervening years.

    Having said that, ‘housing’, ‘transport’ and ‘law & order’ is straight out of the department of the bleedin’ obvious.
    C’mon Bri, you can do better than that.

  • trueliberal 29th Jun '11 - 9:08pm

    Great news. A strong candidate and a credible Mayor of London. Re-select Brian Paddick!

  • I’ve never met Brian but for the 2008 campaign I thought he had a number of assets in particular strong on law & order – but from a very liberal perspective. He had after all stood on the front line in the Brixton riots and then gone on to be the commander for that area. And if I recall correctly when dismissed from his Brixton post black community leaders spoke out calling for his return. In short he’d walked the walk on community policing and winning people’s trust.

    And the issue which first brought him to national attention had been using the internet to engage with groups that are traditionally alientated from the police.

    Added to which he had been a long standing party member since well before he had any national profile so was actually a Lib Dem by belief rather than career advantage.

    I then don’t think our campaign really played to that strength – instead running on standard boilerplace “cuts to police numbers” (that’s based on leafletes I’ve seen so may not be a fair reflection)

  • douglas oliver 30th Jun '11 - 12:53am

    I can’t help remembering the fact that after the results came out in 2008, Brain decided to disclose that he voted for Lindsey German second preference. Pretty bizarre considering the lack of common ground between the two candidate’s platforms in terms of policy – not to mention the philosophical gulf that should exist between the Liberal Democrats and the Judean Popular Trotskyite Front, or whoever it was she was standing for then.

  • Brian Paddick 30th Jun '11 - 9:12am

    The main reason for voting for Lindsey German was because she was the strongest candidate on building more social housing. I was absolutely 100% behind her on giving priority to building more homes of good standard, suitable for anyone to live in, to be provided below market rents. I wanted to make a point on that issue as I believe it is necessary in order to give young people an equal chance to succeed, to reduce crime and to create social cohesion. If people have a decent place to live, they are far more likely to be constructive members of society, let alone being the mark of a civilised society, that even the poorest have a decent place to live and I make no apology for supporting her on that issue. Of course German had no hope of winning and implementing policies that I took great issue with but it made the political point on housing that I wanted to make. I cannot express strongly enough how passionate I am about this issue.

  • Brian Paddick 30th Jun '11 - 10:05pm

    @Lester Lee Jasper said that no-one trusted the police in Brixton until Brian Paddick became the police commander when he was Ken Livingstone’s adviser on diversity and policing. At the time he never thought I would be standing against Livingstone for Mayor – how your words come back to haunt you! I have covered the policy issues before. We need one Lib Dem manifesto that covers Mayor and Assembly candidates and none of us have the monopoly on good ideas. The policy platform must be the best that the combined thinking of all the candidates and other members of the party can produce. Like it or not, the crucial decision at the moment is not who makes the ammunition, what the ammunition looks like but who gets to fire it.

  • LondonLiberal 1st Jul '11 - 10:15am

    brian, your choice to make housing, especially affordable housing, the number 1 priority, is absolutely right. it is by far and away the most pressing issue facing londoners, and the one that most crucially affects our competitiveness in the future. it is also fundamental to every other policy objective. excellent choice of priorities!

  • Very pleased to hear Brian is running again.

    Campaigning for him? I’d be there.

  • Excellent article. I am not from London but watched the TV debates in 2008 and thought Brian did exceptionally well indeed. He has great name recognition, (not in the Boris or Ken class, but then who does), and is a smart, committed campaigner, and has been very effective at every speech I have heard him give at conference. It would make a lot of sense to select our candidate from last time round when he peformed very well indeed. Good luck Brian!

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