Opinion: A Mayoral candidate in waiting?‏

With the launch of the shortlist of candidates for the London Assembly top up list, every good (London) Lib Dem’s thoughts should be turning to the Mayoral election – and who can we get to stand.

While there are probably excellent reasons why we’ve postponed the process for up to a year (leaving any approved candidates feeling – well, bruised at best), our two main rivals have their candidates in place and are already slugging it out. So I’m feeling a little left in the cold. And with the party polling 4% (!!!) in the latest Mayoral polling we probably need to name a candidate sooner rather than later.

The criteria seem clear:

  1. Someone who can actually win (wouldn’t that be nice?)
  2. A name that’s as well known as his/her rivals
  3. Someone who already represents Londoners and understands their issues
  4. A candidate who gets the City of London – but isn’t in their pockets.
  5. Perhaps someone who isn’t 100% happy in their current post – maybe someone who finds himself having to present policies he doesn’t 100% believe in and work with colleagues he doesn’t 100% trust? And is probably getting a little fed up with all the mudslinging going on at the moment, with much of it aimed at them.

It’s Vince isn’t it?

Funnily enough – I’m not the first person to think of this.

Labour were worrying about it in the summer and it was mooted on various Labour blogs, while the Tories were rumoured to be considering backing Vince as coalition candidate if Boris didn’t stand again.

Now all that may just have been troublemaking and the normal Westminster tittle tattle. And if he had any interest in the job, we’d probably know by now. Nevertheless…

Wide ranging appeal to left and right. A man everyone trusts. Represents a London constituency. Respected in the City. And Boris even wants to name the new Cable Car in his honour.

Plus he wouldn’t have to suffer the tuition fees debacle anymore (even if he does actually believe in them).

Shouldn’t someone be gently twisting his arm?

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This entry was posted in London and Op-eds.


  • Enlight_Bystand 23rd Oct '10 - 9:39am


    In an ideal world, might Vince be a good candidate for London Mayor? Well yes, of course. However, i suspect there are significant problems in the way.

    He’d have to quit the cabinet. This will be played up by the media as him just taking an excuse to escape from it to run for something (they say) he knows he can’t win.

    Boris already seems to be tacking slightly left to oppose some of the Coalition’s economic plans for London. Either Vince would have to do another U-turn to start opposing stuff, or he’d have to become the coalition defending candidate, which I suspect will not be the best place to be electorally in 2012.

    And, it’s still unlikely that he would win. Now that’s an upgrade from extremly unlikely which is where I expect the rest of our potential candidates to rank, but will he really want to give up working in Government to scrape 25% in the vote and then have his vote scattered between Boris and Ken?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 23rd Oct '10 - 10:02am

    Can Nick Clegg not be persuaded to do the honourable thing and stand?

  • Richard Morris 23rd Oct '10 - 10:29am

    @ Chris Squire. Hmm. well the two are not mutually exclusive. And Ken Livingstone is 65.

  • We need to be looking to the future. We already have a stand-out candidate in Duwayne Brooks – hopefully he will broaden his horizons and boost his profile over the next year and come back to the selection process as clear favourite.

  • DIdn’t Simon Hughes meet at least 4 of those criteria (according to some?)

  • It must look to the outside world that we put off selecting a candidate to stop Lembit.

    Simon Hughes would be a great candidate but he’s already deputy leader and has an important job to do there. Vince again would be a good candidate but we need a good economist at BIS and I can’t think of anyone else to replace him apart from perhaps David Laws if he decides to return.

    We’re never going to win in London, especially against a Tory who doesn’t come across as your typical Tory candidate. Truth is, lots of floating voters and quite a lot of people who vote Lib Dem nationally or locally will back Boris because he’s a jolly good chap and his bike scheme’s not a bad idea. Would it be worth losing the Coalition’s most experienced economist to fight a battle which Boris has practically already won?

  • Mike(The Labour one) 23rd Oct '10 - 11:29am

    How would Vince Cable be able to stand against Boris Johnson after agreeing with the Tories in government? He’d have to distinguish himself by promising deeper cuts if anything.

    Vince Cable may be well known, but as with Clegg that just means he’s fallen from a great height, from Saint to Devil.

  • No. Vince should leave the “coalition”, certainly, but he should remain in Parliament and use his position to rip Osborn and his party apart.

  • Tony Dawson 23rd Oct '10 - 1:48pm

    The best candidate I have encountered for this job would be Charles Anglin.

  • @Tom I have nothing against duwayne Brooks but how on earth is he a ‘stand out candidate’?
    Could you list a few of his achievements that would make him a good choice to run one of the worlds largest cities with a multi billion £ budget?

  • david thorpe 23rd Oct '10 - 3:47pm

    Vince has a huge public profile and is well regarded by the electorate on the left and right.
    But he probably couldnt win…..and it would be a shame for his talents to be lost to the party and the country.
    Perhaps an option would b for Vince to run, and if he loses become a peer and return to cabinet that way.
    With Julia Goldsworthy maybe running in the twicknham by-eection, getting us another strong economic brain inot parliament

  • David Thorpe,

    Julia Goldsworthy is in favour of martial law for under-18s. She is the very last person we want back in Parliament, or even in the party.

  • I don’t believe we should have any unelected people in the Cabinet. I believe most of the party feel the same so to have Lord Cable get back into cabinet would be against our reforming views.

    The first time I heard of Duwayne Brooks was a session on crime and policing with Tom McNally and Tom Brake at conference, anyone able to provide a bit more information as to why he’d be a good candidate for mayor?

  • Enlight_bystand 23rd Oct '10 - 11:03pm

    @david_thorpe although Vince would have to stand down from the cabinet, he needn’t step down as an MP – Boris didn’t until he’d won.
    Comments about him leaving at the end of parliament though – 2016? 😉

  • I think Dinti Batstone would make a very good candidate.

    I heard her speak at the recent Lib Dem conference and
    she was excellent.

  • John Fraser 24th Oct '10 - 9:55am

    It was childish and undemocratic of the selection committe to not proceed .

  • None of those 5 criteria are ones I’d agree with, nor are any of them consistent with the London Regional strategy. They seem to have bheen defined by a post facto rationalisation of a Cable candidacy rather than a real understanding of the appropriate campaign strategy for the mayoral elections. To my mind, there are 3 relevant criteria as follows:

    1. Someone who understands that their role is not to try to ‘win’ the mayoral election but to help our campaign to elect more GLA members

    2. Someone whose candidacy says something positive about the Party as a whole (eg demonstrating expertise in areas where we’ve traditionally been weak such as crime/policing (Paddick) or representing a community that the Lib Dems have traditionally struggled to reach).

    3. Has actually read the Regional Strategy (circulated as part of the application pack) and genuinely wants to fight their campaign accordingly.

    I doubt whether Lembit or indeed Vince fits the bill. We can probably find some fairly dull white male candidates who satisfy 1 and 3 but there real challenge is to find someone who satisfies 2 as well.

  • Richard Morris 24th Oct '10 - 11:43am

    @ Glamorous – well if someone in the party really has written a strategy that involves us standing someone for London Mayor with a deliberate intention not to concentrate on winning, then that strategy is right up their with Chocolate Teapots in the ‘useful’ criteria. You’re right – my piece was entirley predicated on the fact that the whole point of standing a candidate in an election was to focus on getting that candidate elected.

    If someone from whoever wrote theLondon election strategy is reading this could they confirm that whoever we stand as candidiate is not meant to bother to try and actually win themselves? Extraordinary.

    Or is Glamorous just Boris or Ken stirring the pot?

  • Richard Morris 24th Oct '10 - 3:34pm

    @ Mark P – I really think it’s extraordinary becuse of the importance and profile of the election for London Mayor. We should want the best candidates possible, and to get them, we have to have a strategy that will help them win. Pursuing a strategy that gives us a ‘better’ third place will leave us in most people’s minds – the third party. And I believe we’re better than that.

    I see Lembit has just posted a piece all about how he wants to win. He obviously hasn’t read the regional strategy given out with the aplication process….

  • Richard Morris 24th Oct '10 - 4:03pm

    hmm, sorry about typos above, rather bashed it out…

  • To win we nned to run on the policy of abolishing the mayoralty. Thus giving Londoners a referendum on continuing to fund celebrity jokers as they swan about doing sod all for our city.

  • Come on please… whatever the strategic thoughts about the election surely you don’t go into print officially with the phrase…..

    1. Someone who understands that their role is not to try to ‘win’ the mayoral election but to help our campaign to elect more GLA members

    Are you seriously trying to attract my vote with that sort of positioning??

  • Sian Berry- as a joint Green/Lib Dem candidate … well I can dream…

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