Opinion: Liberal Democrats and Londoners deserve a three horse race

Brian Paddick, who is now reported to be running for Mayor of London, has the experience and the high profile to take on Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone.

Like it or not, the race next year is going to be personality politics at its most intense. With polls showing a lead for the Labour party in London, but Johnson and Livingstone running neck and neck, it’s in the big parties interests to make this “Ken vs Boris”.

I like and respect the other names who have put themselves forward for the Liberal Democrat nomination. Mike Tuffrey has quietly and determinedly worked away at London politics for a long time, most recently working with our other excellent London Assembly members to hold Boris Johnson to account for his failed policies. Meanwhile, Lembit Opik has far more guts and substance than his critics give him credit for.

Brian Paddick, however, combines the best of both candidates: experience of running a major London organisation and the high profile to cut through in the national media.

The Mayoral elections are an opportunity to demonstrate that the Liberal Democrats remain a radical and dynamic party, genuinely independent in thought from both Labour and the Conservatives. But to seize that opportunity, and to maximise the vote for our impressive list candidates, we need a candidate who will be heard above the noise.

Brian Paddick is one of the best known Liberal Democrats in the country but, uniquely, is best known for his activities outside politics and ability to appeal to those beyond the party. Liberal Democrats and Londoners (though perhaps not Johnson or Livingstone) should welcome his entry into the race.

To back the campaign visit: http://www.facebook.com/brian4london.

Matt Sanders is Deputy Leader of Camden Liberal Democrats.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Brian’s running will make the selection far more interesting and it may also expose Tuffrey’s lack of charisma and profile compared to Brian and Lembit. I understand that he has still not made his mind up on whether he would really like to run, though.

  • trueliberal 16th Jun '11 - 6:14pm

    I worry that being in Government has made Lib Dems lose their radical edge. Too many of the party’s ministers, once know for being radical, now sound like any other politician (or worse, have become anonymous pen-pushers). I’m sure Mike Tuffrey is a good man, but he comes across as a typical “man from the town hall”. And Lembit has no credibility.

    I hope Brian Paddick puts his hat in the ring. He’s well known, respected, a good media performer and has a record to be proud of and the ability to be the face of a radical campaign.

  • Brian Paddick 16th Jun '11 - 9:48pm

    The BBC has it right. I will only do this if the party wants me to and if people think it’s the best thing for the Liberal Democrats. I think you’ll find that I have changed significantly since last time – a combination of finally growing up and developing a sense of humour! I have the potential to get it right from day one this time, if people want me to. If you don’t want me to, I can work on getting the Oscar for best supporting role! I will devote myself full-time, from kick-off to final whistle, to maximising the Lib Dem vote in London, not just for the Mayoral candidate and the Assembly in 2012 but preparing the ground for local authority elections in subsequent years, whether you choose me to be the candidate or not. I need to know what you think and I get the feeling you’re going to tell me!


  • At the last election Brian scored a lower vote share than Susan Kramer did in 2000 and IIRC the party ended up with fewer AMs.

    Why would he do better this time?

  • What have we come to when two of our three candidates boast that having having been on ‘I’m a Celebrity …yawn yawn’ helps make them qualified to be London Mayor!

    We need a candidate that works hard, has won elections and does not have an over-inflated ego the size of a planet.

    TTT (Tuffers for Twenty-Twelve)

  • Brians facebook page now has over twice the amount of support of the other two. It has grown from a standing start 48 hours ago to over 200 followers. I think it is clear that Brian would be a great contender to be Londons Mayor!


  • The last time I saw this much astroturf was Boundary Park in the late 80s 🙂

  • Brian, you have invited comment, so I will. I, and I am sure many Lib Dems have admired what you have done as a senior policeman. So I was predisposed to think, when I saw your reasonably successful TV appearances, that things would go pretty well for you. However, when I saw you deliver a couple of set piece stand-up speeches, I realised that was NOT a strength for you (and I speak as someone who has had difficulties in that area myself). So I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you do it again. Your recent appearance on Newsnight was, I thought, quite a triumph – and you did use more humour, which you said was an improving skill on your post here. You have lacked humour, and had a dry presentational style up to now. I am not London based, so I think you must take your final decision from what London colleagues have to say.

  • Brian Paddick 17th Jun '11 - 12:15am

    I am very grateful for all feedback and I do not intend to put people off expressing themselves by defending myself against each and every criticism (which should not be taken that I necessarily agree with all of it!) I would just ask people to take on board what I have said above and to ask whether there is any evidence in recent years to support my claim that there has been a positive change since last time. I also want to assure people that not replying does not mean that I am not taking it all on board because I am (ouch!)

  • Andrew Pelling 17th Jun '11 - 9:37am

    London Mayors are really vivid characters so Lib-Dems need to match that.

    Please choose Lembit and let’s have some good fun. Also Lembit was a very hard worker as an MP.

  • Brian, I suspect you’re better known nationally now, and your appearences on programmes like Newsnight suggest the media are maybe more disposed to treat you as a serious candidate than they were in 2008. Someone makes the comparison between you and Lembit as former “I’m A Celebrity…” contestants – I think the difference between the two is that while Lembit has used the recognition factor in developing a “Hello!” type of fame, you’ve actually used it to further serious political points.

    Unfortunately I’m not in London though, but would vote for you if I were!

  • How come Ed Joyce hasn’t camped on this thread like he did on the Tuffrey thread? Is Paddick less of a threat?

  • The slogan plastered over Mike’s website is “Serious About London”. Those with even medium term memories might recognise that as having been Brian Paddick’s slogan last time. Can’t help thinking you might as well have the real thing…

  • Brian Paddick 17th Jun '11 - 9:09pm

    Thanks for the feedback so far. We need to work on the message. “A little less serious than last time” might be true as far as my character is concerned but not as a campaign slogan (‘Serious about London’ was my slogan last time!) ‘Left leaning libertarian’ has already been taken I understand although I thought that was the definition of a liberal democrat. In essence I will want to highlight what the Lib Dems have achieved in government (index-linked pensions, pupil premium, taking thousands out of income tax) and clearly state where Lib Dem policy is at variance with the Coalition Government (when I asked Nick, he told me in front of Conference that if it had been a Lib Dem only government, there would have been no increase in tuition fees, for example.) Things I am passionate about at the moment: Policing – increases in burglary and robbery, more young men dying on the streets but Boris planning cuts to police numbers and no action on gun crime. Housing – using publicly owned land, get private investors to build affordable rented accommodation – everyone deserves a decent place to live and leaving it to market forces in the current climate is not going to solve the problem. Transport – maintain the bus subsidy and keep fare increases to a minimum whilst families are struggling with inflation and wage freezes – Boris has increased bus fares more than tube fares penalising those least able to pay. Whatever I run with, it will be a simple, clear message, effectively delivered.

  • Matt Sanders 18th Jun '11 - 1:34pm

    Just came on here to respond to some of the comments – only to find that Brian has done the job for me!

    Seriously, I don’t think anyone can fault Brian’s commitment to the party in the previous four years. After a difficult campaign in 2008, he’s put in the hours and got back out on the campaign trail (not least for the general elections last year, when many of our target seat candidates appreciated some high profile support). It would have been so easy for Brian to walk away and pursue his many other interests – he didn’t. Brian has used the last four years to get to know the party better and would be entering this race with his eyes wide open and a very different candidate than last time.

    What’s more, Brian understands that the point of this campaign is to be a distinctive liberal (and LIberal Democrat) voice, and to make sure we maximise the vote for our impressive list candidates. He has the high profile and the credibility to be able to get into the media to say the things that our MPs can’t.

  • Brian,

    I wanted to comment on your statement

    ‘Left leaning libertarian’ …… I thought that was the definition of a liberal democrat

    Although most of the members of the Liberal Democrats are considered (correctly in my view) to be on the left there are right wing and left wing elements of the party. There are also authoritarian and libertarian elements to the party. Some, for example, are opposed to the liberalisation of policy on cannabis and prefer the current legal framework.

    I don’t think that Susan Kramer, for example, would be described by many as a left winger. That might not be an issue since she is backing a rival however I think that you will find plenty of opposition to left libertarianism in the party.

    Much as I oppose them, indeed I have been supporting Lembit because he is left wing and libertarian, I think that it is important that we acknowledge that there are legitmate right wing and and ‘authoritian left’ elements to the party.

    Ed Joyce

  • Steve Comer 19th Jun '11 - 8:16pm

    I’m not in London, but I’m surprised nobody in this thread is supporting Duwayne Brooks as a Mayoral candidate.
    In this race we have to get heard, and we need a credible articulate alternative to the Ken & Boris knockabout.
    For me Duwayne is the best one to provide that.

  • Opik deserves a second chance;he would be brilliant .His profile will go through the roof these days.
    His reunion with his cheeky half ( so I hear), will guarantee his win.
    His cheeky ,colourful ,personal life ,made him a celeb/household name,and we need a new chapter.The story didn’t fade,his lifetime experience in the -BIG ROOM- will work for him as well.
    All-in-all,he’s gettin’ there.At least , he got the speach and the charisma.
    Well done mate.

  • “‘Left leaning libertarian’ …… I thought that was the definition of a liberal democrat”

    Do you mean Capital L, Capital D? If so I would suggest you read the preamble to the party constitution. There are numerous people who class themselves as libertarian whose views mean they fall well within the broad church of liberalism generally and the party specifically (and I’ve never seen anything to suggest that Lembit isn’t one of those). However libertarians – left leaning or otherwise – are a group with an overlap with Liberal Democrats rather than an equivalance

  • @Alistar

    I don’t know – must some sort of ex “I’m a Celebrity…” group pact 🙂

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