Brian Paddick writes: Reaching out to every community in London

One thing is for sure, if we are to improve on our position in next year’s elections for the Greater London Authority, we need to appeal to every community in London. If the MPs’ expenses scandal didn’t put people off politics, the perception that no one voted for the Coalition Government we now have, might well do the trick.

Too often, people view politicians as remote and out of touch, unable to understand their needs and act in their interests. That’s why, as well as getting our traditional vote out, we must appeal across the political divide and demonstrate that we understand and celebrate London’s diverse communities. We also need to attract the support of young people who have never voted before, many of whom are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

I have worked with practically every community in London over the past 30 years. I patrolled as a police officer in Islington, Lambeth, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Lewisham. I have been in charge of routine policing in Lambeth, Kensington and Chelsea, and Merton. I have had London-wide responsibility for police community relations and neighbourhood policing, culminating in having day-to-day responsibility for routine policing across all 32 London boroughs.

In particular, I have built strong links with the African-Caribbean community. Following-on from being the local police chief, I have continued to work with the black community in Lambeth as Chair of Trustees for Lambeth Crime Prevention Trust, trying to keep young people out of gangs and away from guns and knives. Uniquely we employed former gang members who taught young people about the dangers with conviction and credibility.

I am also acutely aware of the pressure the third sector is under. That’s why I intend to challenge the City to to ensure that its wealth is used to support the valuable work done by voluntary and community groups across London.

At the time, a respected and well known community leader said no one trusted the police in Brixton until I became the Borough Commander – I am still greeted warmly when I visit Brixton’s vibrant market. I was also the most senior openly gay police officer in the UK and I have continued to champion equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. Many people told me that my speech to Federal Conference on same-sex marriage convinced them to support what is now party policy. The contrast with Boris Johnson’s crass and insensitive comments about “picanninies” and saying that a man could marry his dog for all he cared, could not be more stark.

I was the police spokesman in front of the world’s media following the 7 July 2005 London bombings. In a packed news conference the day after 52 innocent people lost their lives, I condemned the term ‘Islamic terrorism’ as a contradiction in terms, an insult to the overwhelming majority of peace-loving Muslims. I visited mosques all over London, forging links with the Muslim community. And more recently, I have been working with Muslim groups to counter both Islamophobia and homophobia in Tower Hamlets.

A particular highlight of the last campaign was being welcomed to various meetings with the Jewish community. This was in sharp contrast to the upset caused by Ken Livingstone’s insensitive and offensive remarks to a journalist.

It’s all very well to debate the issues facing London in City Hall in an often-vain attempt to get the Mayor to do the right thing. But I have a record of speaking out directly to Londoners as a strong voice that gets heard. I have been out there, on the front line, finding practical solutions to the problems facing Londoners, working with a diverse range of communities to find real answers.

We need a Mayoral candidate, and a strong team of London Assembly members, who can reach out to every community in London. With your help, we can.

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10 Comments

  • Police, police, police. We really need someone who can do all policy areas. And I don’t mean just pinching other people’s policies, Brian!

  • @Jim

    What does “do all policy areas” mean? I can think of plenty of candidates who can talk about any number of policy areas but don’t have much experience in any. And if there is someone with a detailed knowledge of all policy areas they are a remarkable person.

    When Brian was dismissed as the area commander for Brixton black & Afro-Carribean community leaders protested and wanted him reinstated. Given that 15 or so years earlier he had been stood in Brixton while people were throwing petrol bombs at him that suggests someone did a remarkable piece of work.

    (FWIW I think Brian has a highly compelling narrative and one of the problems I had with the last Mayoral campaign was that I didn’t see that coming across in our campaign).

  • Hywel’s last point is the really salient one. I too think Brian has a great story to tell but last time both he and we colllectively had trouble telling it.

    I know, I know – it’s tough when you’re up against the Boris v Ken ‘who can be the biggest buffoon’ show, but still there’s no point having a good narrative if we can’t effectively communicate it.

    Brian’s article does a good job of showing that he has a unique potential to reach out to many communities across London. But it’d be good to hear some concrete suggestions of how to put this into practice in campaigning terms.

    How would the Brian 2012 campaign make sure all these communities realise he’s reaching out to them? Town hall meetings? Walkabouts? Contacts with relevant media e.g. Pink News? What would be done differently to last time to get the message across?

  • Going slightly OT, just got back from The Mayoral Hustings. All 4 candidates were impressive in different ways but putting them in order is the point so hers mine –
    1st Opik
    2nd Tuffrey
    3rd Paddick
    4th Haley

    For me the big surprise was how well Mike Tuffrey spoke.

  • Brian Paddick 27th Jul '11 - 10:52pm

    Jim. I think you will find that most of my policies are the ones I ran with last time, which raises the question of who is pinching policies! More social housing – my policy in 2008. Using TfL and other publicly owned land – my policy in 2008. One hour Oyster card so you can change buses – my policy in 2008.

  • Lester Holloway 27th Jul '11 - 11:30pm
  • Lester Holloway 27th Jul '11 - 11:31pm

    “I intend to challenge the City to to ensure that its wealth is used to support the valuable work done by voluntary and community groups across London.”

    A City tax for the voluntary sector would certainly be welcome.

  • Duwayne Brooks 30th Jul '11 - 10:53am

    I am voting for the candidate that has experience of working with people from all different backgrounds. This is London remember.

    I am voting for the candidate who will get the same level of press coverage as Boris and Ken for the right reasons.

    I am voting for the person that Londoners (outside the party) have actually heard of.

    Stealing policies accusation is a silly one. Whoever wins the nomination will obviously use the best policies no matter which candidate said it first. I also think too many hustings defeats the object.

    Finally whoever wins, we all have a duty to support that person 100% as votes for assembly members are just as important.

    I just hope whoever wins doesn’t get too big for his boots.

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