Duwayne Brooks to challenge Lembit Opik for London Mayor

In the London Mayor selection contest, Lewisham councillor Duwayne Brooks has just publicly thrown his hat in the ring. More information on his Facebook page.

The other declared candidate so far is Lembit Opik, who also has his own Facebook page. The number of fans for that latter page has been growing slowly but now there is a direct competitor to judge it against. So far, Lembit is ahead though Duwayne’s page has only very recently appeared.

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16 Comments

  • I was impressed with his performance in the law and order Q&A at conference so this is an interesting development. He’s said before that he wants to put his past (as a close friend of Stephen Lawrence who was with him on the fateful night) behind him. I can’t help wondering whether the press will dwell on this rather than his plans for the future.

  • Not sure about this. I think if the lib dems r going to take a stab at winning the mayoral race then we need a candidate that people know. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Lembit is that candidate. I can’t see this councillor making many inroads really…

  • Initially when the mayoral campaign was discussed many seemed to feel that we could not win it and that we should concentrate on the GLA. Lembit’s candidacy and the media coverage it has received has changed that, and his nomination would guarantee us a place at the lectern in any debates that take place. Having a real shot at winning this election will be the best way to get our message across and will back up our GLA list candidates. We believe that Lembit can win and the betting, such as Victor Chandler showing Lembit at 20-1 to win shows that although we have a battle on our hands Lembit can give the party a serious chance of going the distance.

    Lembit and his team have been preparing for the challenge for several months and we are starting to visit the boroughs. He is appearing at Croydon Lib Dems (36 Norfolk Avenue) on Sunday 26th. Democracy is healthy for the party and will give an opportunity for Lembit to expand on his policies for the city.

    Lembit 4 London was set up by grassroots activists to back Lembit’s campaign. We believe that Lembit will pick up support from a wide variety of Londoners and also has the potential to pick up support from Central/East European voters many of whom may be voting for the first time. It is this reach that gives him a chance of beating Ken and Boris. His voting record as the most liberal Liberal Democrat has defined Lembit and this liberal agenda will form the heart of his campaign.

    We need a celebrity politician who the public recognise. To reject Lembit will suggest to the voters that we are not serious about this election.

    Ed Joyce
    Lembit 4 London

  • I’d rather the press dwelled on Duwayne’s past, which in many ways is a rather inspiring story, than dwelling on Lembit’s, if indeed they do at all instead of just laughing at him.

  • @Ed – can you explaining why lembit walked out of iain dale’s radio programme half way though to go to a comedy club?
    http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2010/09/lembit-you-cannot-be-serious.html

  • As much as I like and respect Lembit’s political views – which the vast majority of the time reflect his good, sensible, liberal principles – I’m afraid that over the last few years he has lost big chunks of his credibility by falling into the deeply caricatured mould of a ‘celebrity’ and a figure of fun.

    When voting for a Mayor of London amidst dire economic times, voters won’t be looking for what Ed calls “a celebrity politician”, they’ll be looking for a credible and serious alternative to the Boris and Ken show who can get things done and who will focus on the things that matter to them. And too often – quite undeservedly given his good solid liberal principles and views – Lembit gives off the impression to the general public of being more interested in what will get him onto the papers than in tackling the things that matter. I suspect this also played a role in how he was able to lose the traditional Liberal constituency of Montgomeryshire at the last election.

    And unlike Boris – who went from a figure of fun to a serious politician when voters got to know him better, or at least when they got to know him through the Conservatives’ slick 2008 election machine – Lembit’s career journey seems to have taken the opposite track – and his recent interview-skipping and comedy-club antics are keeping up that impression.

    Carrying on a campaign with such a lack of credibility would certainly get the Lembit mayoral campaign noticed – and probably would encourage more people to put him on the telly. But it wouldn’t win many votes, it wouldn’t do much for the wider credibility of the Liberal Democrats and it wouldn’t do much for making London better governed.

    Quite simply, if Lembit wants London Lib Dems and London voters to start treating him like a serious politician, he needs to prove it!

  • David Rogers 26th Sep '10 - 10:54am

    As a non-Londoner, I hesitate to comment on this – but I agree with Chris’ views on “lost credibility” and the inherent dangers of fostering so-called celebrity culture. As one of the two Lib Dem chairs of Local Government Group (LGA) Boards, I have been impressed by Duwayne’s contributions to the Safer Communities agenda, and more widely, and believe he would be a highly credible candidate for our party.

  • Duwayne maybe a fine candidate, I don’t know. But I can’t help think that he has no chance. The problem is, I can’t see any Lib Dem candidate seriously challenging Boris (Labour has gone nuts and tried to give Ken another go, even though he is toxic it many parts of London). Floella Benjamin, Duwayne Brooks and definitely Lembit Opik, won’t win and if we want to make an impact in such an important elected position, we need some long-term strategising to build a candidate up for future London mayoral elections.

  • I am incredulous at the preposterous notion that Lembit Opik could be a credible mayoral candidate. His public persona has been accelerating in the wrong direction for some years now and he recently lost a parliamentary seat in our Welsh heartland where we have been present for generations. That took some doing. London is a multicultural city. we need a candidate who is (1) a Londoner, first and foremost an (2) if possible, someone who can show we are serious about governing a multicultural city. If we can’t win, at least our candidate should be able to raise the party’s profile and behave like a serious politician, not a game-show comedian. Duwayne would be a fantastic choice, as would Brian Haley, whose name I have not seen mentioned but who is a potentially high profile black politician with a proven track record. Either of these candidates would get BAME audiences sitting up and taking notice of us, something they are not doing in any numbers now. If we are to attract a more diverse range of members into the party, this is one way to do it.

  • duncan greenland 26th Sep '10 - 11:59am

    excellent news

  • It’s true that we’re unlikely to get a candidate that wins (unless there’s a magic Cleggmania moment), but it is important to run a credible campaign and it would look good to have several viable candidates in strong competition against each other before running the main campaign. It’s important to make sure that they all get plenty of media exposure (in the right way) as well.

    I’m skeptical about Lembit. Haven’t seen much from either Duwayne Brooks or Brian Haley but would be interested to see them speak. One problem with Brian is he defected from Labour and then lost his seat in the last local election so he’s lacking much democratic momentum. Same issue for Lembit I suppose …

    Has Caroline Pigeon ruled out running?

  • Jonathan Huint 26th Sep '10 - 9:04pm

    Unless Vice Cable or perhaps Charles Kennedy were to stand, we are not liklely to win the London mayoral contest. We are fortunate to have both Duwayne and Lembit to choose from. I like and admire both and believe each brings valuable qualities.

    Lembit is a real politician much more capable than the boring so-called ‘serious’ ones to both inspire and make you think. I have never known his critics do either. His thinking and analysis are first class. As we all know, he is clever, witty and very funny.

    Apart from Charlie, Lembit is probably the only Lib Dem who can outdo Ken and Boris in making us laugh. That’s important in an election that few Londoners take too seriously, but which receives much publicity. Making policies and politics seem entertaining is a rare talent.

    Duwayne, who I am supporting, has grown hugely in stature since his problems as a victim of racist murderers and police butality and harassment. The way he he has ovecome these, and engaged in crime topics with such understanding and forgiveness is humbling.

    It is not a life experience any of us would seek, but has made Duwayne a strong and hugely impressive person. He has achieved great respect for his dedication to representing his constituents and mastering his brief of crime and related matters on a national stage. Praise of this order from Richard Kemp, our LGA leader, is unusual.

    Duwayne will also demonstrate that Liberal Democrats are the party for young people and the black and minority ethnic in a city where more than a third of the electorate are one or the other (or both). Given the right support he would be well placed to attract voters to our cause this time and become Mayor in 2016 — and still be under 40.

  • The number of fans of Duwayne Brooks Facebook Page has just overcome that of Lembit’s with 218 against 214.

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