Should Lembit Opik be the Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor?

The news that Lembit is interested in running for Mayor has produced a flurry of comment online from Liberal Democrats (such as Andrew Reeves’s piece) so over to you: what do you think?

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  • Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should Lembit Opik stand for Mayor. He is a total embarrassment – we need the Liberals to be taken seriously, not laughed out of the race. If only Vince Cable didn’t already have a job…

  • Lee Waitson 29th Jun '10 - 9:24am

    In a word, no. Anyway, I thought Boris Johnson was our candidate?!

  • Gemma Mason 29th Jun '10 - 9:28am

    Lembit Opik, as in former MP and now would-be stand-up comedian?

    Are things really that bad? I’d rather not see us put up a candidate!

  • NO NO NO. Loses a seat which has been Liberal since 1880 (apart from 1979), dodgy expenses claims, no judgement whatsoever.
    And idle. He has 1900 followers on twitter – last tweet January. No need to bother during the election then.
    Self indulgent tosser.
    Summed up by his interview on breakfast TB this morning:
    “What a great media opportunity for [the press] if you have three colourful characters running for mayor.”

    basically, I’m against.

  • No. He’s a publicity-seeking fool. His constituency voted him out, why would London vote him in?

  • Dave Hinton 29th Jun '10 - 9:39am

    Lembit would not be my preferred candidate at the best of times, but with us in coalition with the Tories nationally, we particularly need a candidate who contrasts with Boris, not one who is Borisesque.

  • Paul McKeown 29th Jun '10 - 9:50am

    Awful idea – make him Ambassador to the Asteroid Belt.

  • Christine Headley 29th Jun '10 - 9:52am

    It’s a pity that Susan Kramer is available, but I think she would be an excellent candidate, having done it once and got exposure as a London MP since.

  • No thank you 🙂 Things are bad enough without making them worse.

    Lembit losing his seat was both predictable (if not to Lembit) and painful, but a bit like when the Lib Dems won control of Liverpool and it was seen as a Labour gain.

    Could someone post the Lib Dem first prefs for the Mayoral elections and london assemby. Haven’t they gone down each election ?

  • Under no circumstances should Lembit Opik stand as our candidate.

    I think either Susan Kramer or Simon Hughes should stand again.

  • Lembit may be a bad politician, and yes I agree he should not be the candidate and should consider stepping back from politics for good, but as someone who knows him, he is not a fool, a tosser or any of the other things people within the party have called him. He has a big heart and cares deeply about people. Yes he lost a safe seat, yes it was his fault, but he is a fundamentally good human being, and we owe it to him at least not to take him apart.

  • Iain Roberts 29th Jun '10 - 10:17am

    No. I agree with Neil on strategy and Lembit’s simply not the right person to be representing the Lib Dems in that sort of high profile role.

  • S. P. Hughes 29th Jun '10 - 10:20am

    I think the above comments have some very valid points, needless to say I don’t think he would make a good candidate.

    Putting up someone who now goes under the description of “stand-up comedian” is just asking for it and I think gives the residents of London the impression we aren’t serious.

    I would like to see Caroline Pidgeon as our 2012 candidate for May of London.

  • Susan or Caroline – Boris is a clown, Ken is a has-been tribalist. Having a competant woman would be a good contrast. And they both understand that it’s not all about them, it’s about assembly seats.

  • Go Lembit Go – repeated until the Voice allows a short post.

  • Draft Caroline P please – a campaigner and a Londoner

  • @Nick – you make a very good point about us now being able to move to get a good new PPC in Montgomery.

    I am not sure about Susan Kramer – she lost the mayoral election before, then lost in Richmond. Too easy for the other parties to portray her as a loser. The ‘save Kingston hospital’ campaign was at the least ill judged and she must bear some responsibility for that.

    @Mark P or anyone – what is the timetable for selecting the Lib Dem candidate?

  • @Nick -“The only good thing about this announcement is that it shows Lembit’s not interested in standing in Montgomery again, so they can get on with finding a decent candidate to replace him.”

    But how can they? We don’t know what the boundaries are gonna be, or even when they’ll be decided. The seat may well not exist. Whats the advice for local parties on this? Particulalry in seats like Montgomeryshire when we need to select at the very earliest possbile moment.

  • As long as we have a directly elected Mayor of London, rather than an elected authority which appoints a leader, there will be un unhealthy and unhelpful focus on personalities and a consequential tendency for high-profile egotists to put themselves forward or be sought out by the party machines.

    I don’t think Lembit would make a good Mayor of London, but I don’t think the post should exist.

  • Nay, Nay thrice Nay!

  • He can stand for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

    Tony Greaves

  • No, please no…..there is no way I would lift a finger to campaign for him; he is beyond a joke and his political career is clearly finished.

    That said, given the London Region’s track record of incompetence and interference, doubtless someone from the Regional Party is out there right now inviting him to stand ..

  • Caroline Pidgen, I guess. Bridget Fox?

  • ophelia bottom 29th Jun '10 - 1:40pm

    Lembit Opik, as a well known face, is the only chance an LD candidate will have as london mayor. Simon is great but (IMHO) cannot compete with Boris’s charisma and Ken’s oratory skills and natural leadership, Susan just isn’t well-known enough. Lembit is no more of a joke than Boris was (a manifesto based on banning bendy buses, for goodness sake!), and what happened to him?

    I think its telling that people inside the LDs don’t want him in, yet he’s one of few LD MPs (prior to the recent election) that has entered the public consciousness, rightly or wrongly.

  • Lembit’s problems started with a vicious personal attack on him by his former partner published by the “Daily Mail” (surprise, surprise). From there, it was down hill all the way. I think Lembit is both a committed Liberal Democrat and a decent man, and I believe that eccentric mavericks have a useful role to play in politics. What Lembit lacks is good judgment. I think his constituents might have tolerated his very public private life if he hadn’t made the fateful decsion to write for David Sullivan’s “Daily Sport”.

    There are two lessons to be learned:

    (1) Politicians should never forget that old adage, “when in a hole, stop digging”. Lembit added to the damage, when he should have drawn a line beneath it.

    (2) There need to be mechanisms in place that enable the leadership to deal with MPs who go off on frolics of their own. Nick Clegg sat back and watched Lembit go to pieces. Why?

  • Tony Theaker 29th Jun '10 - 2:14pm

    Have we not had enough to put up with over the last few months, already?

  • Whatever we think – looks like it is on.

  • @Dom intersting, it was registered on 2 June by someone who has chosen to hide their name.

    Perhaps one of the ‘senior mp’s’ he claism have asked him to stand

  • I’ve already commented on Andrew’s blog. Based solely on my personal experience of the 2 men in question, I’d far rather have Lembit as my candidate than Simon Hughes. It’s sad to see this level of personal abuse being directed at someone who’s worked for at least 20 years for the party.

  • sam barnett 29th Jun '10 - 4:15pm

    Ignoring Lembit strikes me as classic Liberal self-sabotage. Use his media profile.

  • He lost his seat because he was up against a local former Assembly Member who stood on the rather pointed basis of “I would be a full-time MP for Montgomeryshire.”
    If you live in rural Wales, you want someone who is focussed on rural Wales, not partying with celebrities and Lembit was deemed, fairly or unfairly, to have taken his eye off his constituents.

    Seems in London, what they want is Personalities. If not Lembit, is there no famous actor or mountain climber or something who can be persuaded? 😉

  • Andrew Suffield 29th Jun '10 - 5:24pm

    His constituency voted him out

    He has just lost a safe Lib Dem seat

    How quickly history gets rewritten. His constituency boundaries were changed to include a lot more Tory voters. He never had much of a chance, and it was the boundaries commission that voted him out. Nobody thought it was a safe seat after the boundary changes.

    STV would put a stop to that sort of gerrymandering.

  • @Andrew Suffield

    “How quickly history gets rewritten. His constituency boundaries were changed to include a lot more Tory voters. He never had much of a chance, and it was the boundaries commission that voted him out. Nobody thought it was a safe seat after the boundary changes.”

    In this election it had exactly the same boundaries with which we came home safe as houses in the 2007 Assembly Election, and the constituency changes were not actually horrificly bad for us anyway, certainly it was still notionally Lib Dem by a rural country mile. Sorry but thems are facts.

  • David Allen 29th Jun '10 - 6:05pm

    “Lembit has great strengths but they do not fit this role.”

    Disagree. Lembit has great weaknesses, but they do not disqualify him from this role. He would stand a real chance. No other Lib Dem would stand a chance, not even Vince. Of course Lembit would act the fool. But he could do the job – in fact he might be very good at it.

    We should ask him to run as an independent candidate, who we will not oppose. That would mean taking party politics out of the Mayoralty, which should be popular. It would also mean that the candidate takes his own responsibility for the success of his campaign.

  • George Kendall 29th Jun '10 - 7:16pm

    “he is a fundamentally good human being, and we owe it to him at least not to take him apart.”

    Well said.
    And I too agree he should not be the candidate.

  • Sam Toogood 29th Jun '10 - 9:19pm

    Lembit Opik is a joke, and not a funny one. London needs someone who knows the city, not a Welsh Farmer. Simon Hughes for Mayor!!!

  • Sam – if lembit was a welsh farmer, then he’d probably still be the MP for montgomeryshire.
    Again, he’s not a joke, he’s a good human being, but he should not be our candidate, nor for his own sake, seek the selection.

  • Once again, can I appeal for a bit of self-confidence, or at least not giving up before we even know who will be on the other teams. Theres nearly 2 years to go & alot can happen in that time, its not impossible that both Ken & Oona might stand, for example.
    The point about the London Mayor is that its more like a temporary Dictatorship, the rules are not those of ordinary politics. To stand any chance you have to be a household name before the campaign even starts & you must have a “larger than life” personality. Its no good putting up a Fred Bloggs, they must already be “Fred”.
    I can only think of 2 possible candidates, Simon & Lembit. Simon is already doing a vital job & in any case has stood for the job too many times already, If we are serious that leaves Lembit.

  • Bernard
    Lembit has sort of laid out his vision for London, to make it the freest city in the west.
    It is a very a very expensive city so having some more free things would be good for
    Londoners and tourists alike.
    Lembit is a bit ethnic so he would have a better understanding of this cosmopolitan city
    where half of the “ethnic minorities” live.
    London is a bit of a cheeky place, I don’t want to go into details here,it could embarrass
    a lot of people.
    Make London crime free,drugs free,pollution free and unemployment free and it could be
    a nice place to live.

  • No thanks, no Lembit. That seems to be a clear majority verdict. People want him to do Community Service, but not as Mayor of London.

  • Lembit has a self-obsessed and ultimately destructive personality, as is clear from both his political and personal lives. I cannot see what possible good could come out of his standing as our candidate for London Mayor, we would simply line ourselves up for months of ridicule, a lot of internal unease, and by a poorer than usual result

  • No he shouldn’t. If you leave all the character flaws and inability to one side your still left with a man who lost one of the safest seats in the country by a fair margin. NO NO NO NO.

  • I’m actually a big fan of Boris, and his celebrity status is very different to Lembit Opik; Boris reached the Stephen Fry class of celebrity.

    Frankly I think David Laws could make a brilliant Mayor, I don’t think he’d win until his reputation was rebuilt and Boris leaves to try for prime minister but in the mean time he’d make things interesting.

  • His biggest weakness is that his desire to stand is entirely motivated by personal reasons, most particularly his addiction to publicity-seeking which he seems to have picked up mixing with various low-level celebs, and not in the least by political reasons. He would be there for himself and not for us.

    It is only a matter of time (in all seriousness) before he signs up to appear on Celeb Big Brother, the last resort for the fame-addicted. Really it’s quite sad.

  • Mayor of London! No, are you mad!! Why do you think he was thrown out of Parliament? Let him if anyone will employ him.

  • Absolutely not. Not only is he a laughing stock and victim of the biggest swing in the last election he was a welsh MP – what exactly is his claim to be Mayor of London?
    1st preference Simon
    2nd preference Ken
    Boris out!

  • I should clarify that I agree Lembit is a very decent man and a true Liberal but it’s hard to argue that he was a good MP/politician.
    To everyone saying the mayoral election is about personality rather than politics I would suggest this is not a good thing! I think we have to be realistic that we have not got a hope of winning this election in the next several cycles. We should be concentrating on getting a good, serious, local candidate (Simon or Susan) to run a principled fight and enhance our profile in the GLA and general elections. Hopefully our second preference votes will send Boris packing as a bonus.

  • @DavePage I don’t think Julia would run, I hope to see her name back on Camborne, Redruth & Hayle ballot paper!

  • John Fraser 3rd Jul '10 - 12:15pm

    Firstly le me say that the critisisms that any LIBERAL democrat make of a man (or a women ) who chooses to go out with and perhaps fall in love with glamerous attractive partners is either in a state of jealously or has forgotten their liberal principals. Every snide comment about him going out with a ‘cheeky girl’ or a model seems to be trying to say that pop singers or models are somehow not suitable partners.

    Lembit has lost his way in the last few years politically but those who say he is without talent or judgement have an increadibly short memory. Before he was even an MP he was more than capeable of turning im[portant conference policy debates , and being able to win over a majority of party members (as an outsider ) for his welsh seat in a well contested contest shows that when on form he can have an exteremely effective ‘popular’ touch .

    Properly chanelled he could be a very effective candidate perhaps more so than any of the alternatives.
    You may or may not agree (and if you dont that is fine) but some of the comments i’ve been reading here have been wholly out of propoion and bordinging on childish spite.

  • Lembit has lost his way in the last few years period. He only wants the attention, and it’s not our role to give it to him.

  • David Allen 4th Jul '10 - 11:05pm

    We shouldn’t even dream about granting a leadership role to a maverick whose core beliefs are so manifestly at odds with the centre-left moral principles we have steadfastly maintained for generations. Oh, hang on, have we done that already?

  • I thought this from ‘Flock Together ‘ sums the situation up:
    “Lembit Opik and the rest of the Lembit 4 London team will be gathering at the Three Stags at 67-69, Kennington Rd, London, London, SE1 7PZ at 7.00pm on Monday 26th July. We will be having an informal drink to discuss the mayoral campaign. If you want to come along you can just turn up and look for Lembit but it would be helpful if you could e-mail [email protected] just so that we have a rough idea of the numbers. This will be a Liberal Drinks style event where you come along and buy your own beers. Lembit will not be with us tonight but we will be going ahead as planned. The new Lembit4London leaflet has been designed and we will be discussing it. We also plan to hold another meeting with Lembit in attendance on Monday 6th September. Details will be on Flock Together.”

    basically the meeting was arranged for his supporters and now he cant be bothered to turn up.
    Truly useless

  • I wonder if Lembit taking a job with an Iranian TV station may not be terribly helpful to him if he does want to be our candidate for mayor.

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