Lembit Opik: vote for my libertarian agenda

Yesterday’s BBC Politics Show included a feature on Lembit Opik’s hopes to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London. It’s still available online to watch (see here; it starts at 47:42).

Most notable was the news that no Liberal Democrat MP, GLA member or council leader in London is backing him, that he would hold a referendum on asking the public to pay considerably more in order to fund a 24-hour tube and that he twice described his political views as libertarian.

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This entry was posted in London.


  • What a twonk.

  • Lolbit Epik.

  • The Tube can’t run 24-hr because of maintenance, I can’t see how throwing money at it could change that.

  • Philip Young 21st Mar '11 - 10:09pm

    What’s wrong in describing yourself as a libertarian? I seem to recall Tony Greaves saying he was a libertarian. So has Simon Hebditch, and many others….oh, Peter Hain has also described himself as libertarian. Er, so have I for that matter…

  • It will be difficult for us Lib Dems to have any decent prospects in a city that is divided in the way that London is – economically and geographically. On transport issues the divide lies between the broadly car-driving, outer London areas and the inner London, car-less households. Economically, there are also massive gulfs between the benefit and public sector dependent and the über rich banker-bunkers like Kensington and Hampstead.

    Yet the choice between the awful Livingstone and his penchant for dodgy hate-preaching imams and the useless state-hating buffoonery of Johnson is too dreadful to contemplate.

    Couldn’t we persuade one of our MPs to stand instead of the appalling Opik? What about the highly respected Sarah Teather?

  • Can I repeat myself for the nth time & say that I just dont get the whole Anti-Lembit thing. Yes he can look faintly ridiculous, like Ken & Boris, didnt stop them.
    The London Election will, as always be dominated by The Mayoral contest, if we do badly in that we will lose out on the GLA as well. We need a candidate who already has First Name recognition & the list of Libdems with that is pretty short.

    @Adam Price. Are there any other big Cities that do run a 24 Hour Metro ? Ive never seen a comparison.

  • Speaking as an outsider, I would say Lembit is pretty much your only shot at a decent showing. You have to understand that the Lib Dems are now a toxic brand, so you need someone that has already established some affection among the public – and, right now, now that the LibDem ministers have burnt their bridges, pretty much the only LibDems people have any kind of affection for are Lembit and Charles Kennedy. So, unless you can convince Kennedy, to run, Lembit is your best bet. Even if he is regarded as a joke, that’s still better than being regarded as a liar, like any other Lib Dem would be.

  • Tony Greaves 22nd Mar '11 - 9:49am

    I cannot recall ever describing myself as a libertarian. I certainly would not do so now when the word is so associated with the loony right.

    As for Opik, why has he not been disapproved as a candiadte? Why was he approved in the first place? If he was a member of Pendle Council we’d have deselected him by now. In fact he would not have got through our approval process.

    Tony Greaves

  • toryboysnevergrowup 22nd Mar '11 - 10:16am

    Given that any LibDeem candidate for London Mayor will be a joke you might as well have a funny one.

  • If only he were funny….really it’s quite sad; there was a time when most LibDems would have seen him as someone with prospects.

  • I was out campaigning with Lembit at the Brunswick Park council by election in Peckham. The public were very warm to Lembit on the doorstep, which is a huge asset. As other people have mentioned recognition is key in the mayoral election, and we will need this to support GLA list members. Lembit’s supporters are drawn to his campaign because he is a true liberal with a long record of serving the party. It’s pretty clear that nobody else wants to take this on or they would have declared months ago. There will be a vote of party members but my view is that we should select Lembit to take this on and get the mayoral and GLA list campaigns running.

    Ed Joyce

    PS @ Tony Greaves

    I picked up the following from Wikipedia but it also ties into my own memories of being a Young Liberal (albeit from 1979 so a bit after the period referred to). I would totally reject the idea that libertarianism is associated with the loony right in the UK, although the US might be different. In the UK the grandfather of libertarianism, John Stuart Mill, wrote On Liberty and helped to set up our party, i.e. the Liberal Party, for whom that book is the book of office. As far as I see Lembit stands in that tradition of libertarianism. In the article Hain is quoted as a ‘libertarian socialist’ and history showed where that led to. My memory of the NLYL, however, was that they had a strong left libertarian element. For example in the NUS they were the ‘left alliance’. Maybe someone else with a better memory can clear up the issue of the importance of libertarianism to the youth wing at the time.

    From Wikipedia

    One of the significant periods of the Young Liberals was the 1960s and early 1970s. The press coined the phrase the “Red Guard” to illustrate the radical nature of the youth wing. The public became aware of the “Red Guards” at the 1966 Liberal Party Conference in Brighton, when they sponsored an anti-NATO resolution. Over the next decade the YLs were active on a number of foreign policy areas. In particular they were at the forefront of the opposition to Apartheid and the Vietnam war. The YLs took a leading role in the Stop the Seventy Tour of South African Cricket and Rugby teams. Led in particular by an exiled South African Peter Hain (later to become a Labour Party Cabinet Minister), Louis Eaks (later to edit the Tribune), Hilary Wainwright (later to be editor of Red Pepper magazine), they took direct action when other Liberals were not doing so.

    The party leadership were very unhappy about the antics of their youth wing, and party leader Jeremy Thorpe set up a three-man commission which produced the Terrell Report. The report accused some of the Young Liberals of being communists. Many Young Liberals described themselves as “libertarian socialists”. Peter Hain explained:

    “Underlying libertarian socialism is a different and distinct notion of politics which rests on the belief that it is only through interaction with others in political activity and civic action that individuals will fully realise their humanity. Democracy should therefore extend not simply to government but throughout society: in industry, in the neighbourhood or in any arrangement by which people organise their lives.”

    Thorpe went on to try and stop the election of Peter Hain as chair of the Young Liberals.

    At the same time as being active on foreign policy, a group of Young Liberals led by Bernard Greaves, Tony Greaves (later to become a Liberal Democrat peer), Gordon Lishman and David Penhaligon (later to become a Liberal MP) developed the combination of a radical YL approach and involvement in their communities.

  • Simon McGrath 22nd Mar '11 - 9:08pm

    @ed Joyce a number of Union of Liberal Students candidates in NUS elections in the late 1970’s stood on a Libertarian Socialist platform (not tony greaves though, he was a YL, not ULS)

  • @Dan Falchikov

    Don’t get me wrong I like Dominic Carman, but to put forward a candidate so roundly beaten twice in Parliamentary elections, on both occasions finishing behind the BNP begs the question… Are we completely stupid?

  • Tony Greaves
    Only Strict and Particular Baptists welcome at Pendle?

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