Mike Tuffrey writes… Why I’m serious about London

Yesterday I launched my bid to be our party’s candidate for Mayor of London and I started as I mean to go on: working with a large team of experienced colleagues from across London (see photographs here) and talking about the urgent change our city needs.

As a campaigning party, we must focus – pun intended – on the really big concerns Londoners have about living in this city. And as our candidate, I want to work with our campaigners to get out and listen to those concerns and what must be done.

I believe that it is time for serious solutions to the big challenges we face if London is to remain a great city to live, work and raise a family in over the next decade. With new powers coming from central government, we need a GLA – Mayor and Assembly – that is ambitious for London.

At the launch I issued my five point action plan, based on my experience of eight years serving on the London Assembly. These are priorities than can – and must – be delivered:

  • More, better and cheaper housing
  • Investment in transport to keep London moving
  • Action for jobs and a challenge to big business to pay fair wages
  • Protecting neighbourhood policing and promoting youth opportunities
  • Clean air and a healthy London

(Film clip also on YouTube)

I was first elected to London government in 1985, just before the GLC was abolished, and during the 1990s took the Liberal Democrats on Lambeth from just four councillors to run the Council, cleaning up the crisis in services and finances Labour had caused as extreme policies, fraud and corruption ran rife. At City Hall, I have led the Liberal Democrat group during the mayoralties of both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson.

I grew up in Bromley, was born in Orpington around the time of the famous by-election. I moved to Brixton when I got my first job, at the time of the riots in the early 1980s. I have lived in Lambeth ever since. Professionally, I qualified as a chartered accountant and worked as a finance director for a charity before starting up a successful consultancy business, helping large firms become more socially responsible and environmentally sustainable.

Many members will rightly want to know more about my five points, which is why I’ve talked about them in detail over on my new website, www.miketuffrey.com.

If you like what you read and would like to back my campaign, please sign up to my email list and join my Facebook page.

You can also read my views about reforming and devolving local government finance here: The postcode lottery – why freedom to be different is a good thing.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in London and Op-eds.


  • I would personally rether see Lembit take it on as he was keen to do it the first time round when the selection was launched last September. There have been so many candidates come and go but none have shown the consistent commitment (or any real keenness) to doing this that Lembit has. The rush of candidates in March came about in the immediate wake of Lembit appearing on the politics show rather than an innate desire as far as I could see. ‘Lembit appears on telly and then candidates appear’ has been a recurring feature of this process.

    Great policies are essential and Lembit has his own great ideas but we need ideas AND profile to do well in this election otherwise we may lose our place on the podium in debates.

    Lembit is perfectly capable of being serious. Mike’s own slogan shows that he is taking Lembit seriously.

    Ed Joyce

  • Liberal Neil 16th Jun '11 - 12:39pm

    @Ed – the fact that Lembit decided he wanted to be the Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London shortly after losing his parliamentary seat in Wales does not necessarily indicate that he is a better candidate.

    In fact it may give the impression that he is very ambitious for himself rather than committed to a particular area.

    Mike may or may not be the best candidate, but he can, at least, demonstrate a long and consistent track record of commitment to Londoners.

  • Mike, let me be clear, I think you would be an excellent Mayor. But I’m not convinced that you can run a high profile election campaign. I shall remain open minded.

  • Of course you would Ed you are Lembit’s campaign manager, I’d be rather worried if that was not the case

  • LondonLiberal 16th Jun '11 - 1:56pm

    Good luck Mike. Making housing your priority is the right thing to do. ‘More, better and cheaper’ should be the DCLG’s mantra, too. Please convey this desperate need for massive numbers of new homes to Mr Stunell next time you meet him – I get the impression he doesn’t much care for meeting housing need in London, just for beating Labour’s (pathetic) completions. An uninspiring ambition if ever there was one.

  • paul barker 16th Jun '11 - 2:19pm

    “Mike Who ?”
    Thats still the problem with a Mike Tuffrey candidature. Say “Ken” or “Boris” & 3/4s of Londoners know who you mean. Say “Lembit” & you might get 1/4. Say “Mike Tuffrey” & you would be down to one in a thousand.
    The MSM will do us no favours, if we start with a candidate no-one has heard of we will be ignored.

  • Liberal Neil 16th Jun '11 - 3:39pm

    @paul barker – surely that depends on how our mayoral candidate and their message fits in with our overall strategy and message for the London elections as a whole? Do we want our focus to be on the personality of the mayoral candidate or on what the mayoral candidate can do to reinforce the overall message? Personally I’d go for the latter as our main priority should eb maximising the number of Assembly seats we have, and we need a mayoral campaign that backs that objective up, not distracts from it.

  • Born and bred in the area, lived worked and most importanty served the public in London. While Lembit was eating worms Mike was serving Londoners.

    I hope you are selected and wish you the best of luck come election day, I no longer live in London but you would have had my vote if you did. We’ve had one celebrity Mayor, that’s enough.

  • @Ed please do not take this the wrong way – it is intended as a genuine question rather than a stab at your campaign. You claim Lembit has shown “consistent commitment” + “real keeness” but:

    1. Website has average of about 1 update per month, no detail about policy, standard wordpress template links still down the side
    2. Other campaign material seems to have consisted of a couple of videos which whilst slightly quirky/funny (according to taste) showed no engagement with issues
    3. Policies expressed on blogs, in the media etc. are flimsy/ill thought out – 24 hour tube (done to death), liberal drugs policy (not in the mayor’s remit)
    4. No logo, branding, placards appearing anywhere
    5. No list of backers with any serious standing in London/the party

    I would love to see a decent campaign battle between Lembit and Mike but what exactly has Lembit (and your team) been doing for the last year? Tuffrey popped up this week with branding, a decent website, well constructed policies and a list of supporters…..none of which Lembit has despite your claim he has been plugging away at this for about 9 months longer….

  • “The MSM will do us no favours, if we start with a candidate no-one has heard of we will be ignored.”

    Is anyone better known in London that Simon? Remind me how much of a difference he made in 2004?

  • Regarding the points raised by Dec

    Last summer there was a previous selection process. At that time we were looking at Floella Banjamin standing and there was a discussion of policy. The core policy around which the campaign was established was building on brownfield sites. Until Easter Team Lembit were the only part of the party agressively calling for building on brownfield in London. This week other voices have been heard in support of this policy.It is a great idea and is good to see such widespread support for it now.

    It was great that Mike made it the core message for his launch and spent most of his speech on this issue. A core part of the policy, however, is that the land is not sold but is rented. The problem with selling the land is that it will pass profits to property developers which rightly belong to the people of London and will also not lead to a permanent resolution of the issue. It is critical that the land ownership is retained. I hope and believe that all those standing in this election will accept that this is a better option than the sale of our land, held in common, to developers. Lembit was the housing spokesman for the party and has a solid grasp of the issues. We believe that he is well positioned to speak on this issue which is one of the reasons we made it the key focus.

    The website that has policy is on the link below


    I think that the fact that our core policy on which Lembit’s campaign was established is to be the heart of this one is evidence that our policy is credible. I just hope that the critical element of not selling the land is also adopted by all parties.

    The http://www.lembit4london.co.uk website is only a website for our supporters (I don’t think anyone else had one of these). For the selection campaign proper we will of course be launching a new website as I am sure all candidates will.

    List of backers
    We have no list of backers because these are banned by the rules of the party. The idea is that we discuss policy. Incidentally that is why no one else has or will have a list of backers on their website in this campaign.

    Lembit’s team will be fighting this campaign hard. There were about forty people at our recent campaign meeting and this promises to be an interesting and hard fought primary

    Ed Joyce

  • @Ed

    Thanks for the answers!

    But I think you’ve missed my point….

    “agressively calling for building on brownfield in London” – where? There seems to me nothing in the media or on the web about this? No talks or meetings about it by Lembit? You’ve put a link to a two page site you made on it – but no mention of Lembit, how this links to the campaign pr how Lembit could implement this. The policy my be all very well but what has Lembit and/or your team been doing on it for a year? And if it is such a benchmark policy why was Lembit’s evening standard interview, your posts on mayor watch etc. all about drugs and the tube?

    “For the selection campaign proper we will of course be launching a new website” – when exactly? You’ve been ‘in the race’ for about 9 months. The nominations stage is over (i think?) Tuffrey launched his site the day he launched his campaign….when is Lembit’s going live?

    Apologies about the list of backers- that make sense if banned by party rules. But my bigger point doesn’t seem to be addressed -you’ve had a 9 month head start but nothing has really come of it….

  • Hi Dec,


    Following the ‘selection that never was’ last autumn Lembit wrote a book which explained the details of this housing policy and a number of other policies. This was prepared and taken to the senior authorities in the party. It has been requested that this book is not published without modifications. Our campaign is still in negotiations to get an agreement for the book to be published without any changes. We do not want to do this if we risk suspension/expulsion from the party. My closest political colleague Cllr Gavin Webb, the PPC for Burton, was suspended from the party for 16 weeks in 2008 and ultimately left the party. We want to avoid a reoccurrence of this and are cooperating fully with the party authorities.


    If you really need a copy of our web development schedule let me know, the nominations only closed today and we don’t even know who the candidates are yet.

    In the 9 months we have built a solid infrastructure to run the campaign. Lembit has also appeared on television, had double page spreads and more in the Standard and written a book which has a great deal of detailed policy in it. Our Facebook sites are huge with 6000 + members and dwarf our likely opponents.

    I am confident that we will fight a strong campaign with the preparation that we have made.

    Ed Joyce

  • @Ed

    “Our Facebook sites are huge with 6000 + members and dwarf our likely opponents.”

    Which sites are these? A search on FB for “Lembit London” doesn’t show a page with anything like that – nor from what I can see does Google.

    Lembit’s FB page (which has an Edward Joyce as the contact email) has around 1146 people who “like this”
    Lembit4London (Admined by you) has 6 members.
    Lembit4London what you need to know (advertised on Lembits FB page) has 4 likes.

  • Hi Hywel,

    It is no secret that we have two sites which are linked. One of them has hit its limit of 5000 members and the other one has 1148. The one which has 5000 was hidden to non members in order to drive traffic onto the other site, however we can reveal it if you want – just let me know. We are currently chasing Tim Farron to have the second largest number of facebook supporters of any Liberal Democrat politician (Nick Clegg is No 1 with 75,000). I am confident that we will achieve this during the mayoral primary as Tim has less than 7000 members and we are accumulating supporters at a rapid rate, we have accumulated around 1000 in the last month alone. This election will not be won by having a large facebook site, however it gives us a huge well of support to call on.

    It might be expected that we would be pushing the line ‘our facebook group is bigger than yours’, in fact I think maybe you feel that we are missing a trick in not doing that. I see that, however, as negative campaigning and I would like to keep the campaign positive. I hope other candidates will take the same line. To quote the Malcom X who died a libertarian even if he may not have lived as one

    “‘Don’t condemn if you see a person has a dirty glass of water just show them the clean glass of water that you have. When they inspect it, you won’t have to say that yours is better.’”

    That is the approach I prefer however negative campaigning from other parties may make this impossible.

    Ed Joyce

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