Now is the time…. to come to the aid of the party


Most of us are still coming to terms with the general election, but democracy waits for no disappointed politician. Straight away in London we must get candidates in place for the May 2016 elections to the Greater London Authority.

Adverts have just been published for selection to London Mayor and London Assembly list (11 members) and constituencies (14 members). The timetable is tight to get a mayoral candidate and list members in the field by early September, as the other parties are doing, with the constituencies running in parallel.

We’re well placed for the fightback, with nearly 3000 new members in London alone. And London’s a great place to do it – a diverse, tolerant and dynamic city where our liberal message is most resonant. However, with two assembly members elected last time round (2012), we’ve got ground to make up, to get back to the days when I led a group of five members at City Hall.

The Greater London Authority was set up in 2000, following a referendum of Londoners. The Blair government was keen not to reinvent the old Greater London Council. So the GLA has an executive mayor and a consultative Assembly for scrutiny, not decision-making. It is small (only 25 members) and meant to be strategic. Delivery of London-wide services – like police, fire and transport – is done through separate agencies and bodies, away from the deliberately compact City Hall building.

London Elects has a good summary of what the GLA is responsible for, all summed up as “working to make London the best big city in the world”.

After seven years of Boris Johnson – ineffectual if sometimes entertaining – London’s housing market is in crisis, our transport system struggles to cope and the polluted air we breathe damages the health of young and old alike. Certainly, there’s no shortage of issues to campaign on.

In previous elections we’ve relied perhaps too much on mobilising our existing supporters, bottom-up from our stronger areas. We’ve not been so good at fighting a London wide election and maximising the opportunity of a PR voting system.  Now we need candidates who are good at fighting on the issues and articulating what we stand for, who can reach diverse communities across London and are adept at using social media, and who can mobilise volunteers and are good at fundraising. Above all, we need a team of candidates who look like London and truly represent its enormous diversity.

Please apply!

* Mike Tuffrey is a former councillor and London Assembly member, works in the field of corporate sustainability and is a trustee of the New Economics Foundation.

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  • Good sense as so often from Mike Tuffrey.
    Some of those 3000 new members in London should put themselves forwards.
    Mike makes the point that above all —
    “…we need a team of candidates who look like London…”

    One of the distressing facts from the analysis of last month’s voting was that Liberal Democrats achieved support from only 1% of Black/African/Caribbean voters.

    We need to make sure that not only do we have a team that looks like London but that we promote that team and do not hide them behind some celebrity candidate for London Mayor plucked from the so-called “great and the good”.

  • Simon McGrath 9th Jun '15 - 10:48am

    Mike its great news that we are getting on with this.
    But can you clarify why the region feels that a ‘shortlisting ‘ process is necessary for the Mayoral and GLA list candidates.
    Given that candidates meet the basic standards (ie are approved PPCs) why not leave it to members to decide ?

  • Lib Dem lawyer 9th Jun '15 - 11:10am

    I think the argument is that it would be impractical to run a selection with, say, 20 potential candidates for London Mayor and/or 50 candidates for the London Assembly (in the same way you wouldn’t interview all the applicants for a job, you would sift down to a shortlist).

  • Sammy O'Neill 9th Jun '15 - 4:17pm

    I think we will be lucky to win any seats in the assembly as it stands. We have no hope in any of the constituency seats, whilst on the list seats we were dangerously close to losing them in 2012. With the momentum the Greens have gained I suspect they’ll take at least one of our seats with a substantial rise in their vote, whilst UKIP are probably a shoe in for the other as I doubt they’ll fail to pass the 5% threshold again.

    Realistically I think this election needs to be spent on experimenting with new campaign techniques and focusing on areas with potential for liberal growth in the long term. The demographics in London have shifted heavily against the Lib Dems and that is only going to continue.

  • Caron painted me as Mr Gloom and Doom, when I forecast the near wipeout last month. Yet I have a bit of hope this month for the future, only a bit though because it is going to take a long time to tuern around what the last regime apparently under Lord Ashdown has left us with.
    Much depends on the leadership election, a forward looking new approach or the steady as you go state of mind, ( great what we did in the cioalition etc). The former may play better with potential Green and some Labour voters and save us , maybe, that London Assembly seat and get a small foot back in the door where we used to be so strong, especially the likes of Liverpool and Manchester, Sheffield, Hull etc.
    A by election in Richmond Park might also help.

  • Mike Tuffrey 10th Jun '15 - 7:51am

    Simon: on short-listing, as ‘LibDem lawyer’ says, it’s about practicality and so having a testing process for getting there.

    Sammy O’Neill: agree about new techniques and looking long term; disagree about not winning anything: don’t forget it’s a proportional system and if we get the campaigning right, we can definitely go up from the two last time which was 2012, mid-coalition blues, national issues uppermost etc

  • Simon McGrath 10th Jun '15 - 8:02am

    Thanks MIke – Would be much better to let the members decide, even if it makes the process more messy.

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