Opinion: Why you should be taking Lembit Opik seriously

It’s hard to raise the subject of Lembit Opik without somebody cracking a joke. He’s certainly not loved by our own party’s leadership and many see him as more of a celebrity than a politician. I can, however, name two other people who are hated by their party’s leadership and seem to be two parts celebrity, one part politician, and they’ve both held the position of Mayor of London.

Lembit has great recognition among people. My own unscientific polling leads me to believe that he isn’t far behind Ken and Boris in who knows who he is, which is quite a feat for a Liberal Democrat. A lot of people beyond the politically passionate recognise Lembit and these are exactly the people that we as a party need to be appealing to right now. We are in government, we are leading this country, we have Ministers and our own conferences set government policy – yet people seem to be struggling to really appreciate what we are, what we stand for, what we can offer them. Regardless of your opinions on Lembit, he has clearly laid out his scheme for Liberal London: he plans to introduce shared ownership schemes to make houses affordable for residents, promote home-working to reduce congestion and pollution, tackle the issue of whether the Tube should run 24 hours a day, pioneer a more liberal drugs policy and champion small business.

Lembit speaks fluent Estonian and with his cosmpolitan background, appeals to the unique diversity of London. To vote in a General Election, you have to be a British citizen. This means the many thousands of EU citizens living in London are ignored in General Elections, but become crucial in a Mayoral / Assembly election. Lembit is popular among many EU citizens especially Eastern Europeans. Asked about who he feels are under represented in London, he explains that he believes the real motor of London is the thousands of people that wake up at dawn, take the Tube into the city and spend the day cleaning the offices of those on £100K salaries.

The main reason I support Lembit as our candidate for the next Mayoral Election is this: We all accept, as Lib Dems, that no matter how hard we try, elections like this will always be out of our grasp for now. The worst thing we could do is allow the election to turn into a two horse race between Ken and Boris – we need a high profile and energetic personality. Somebody capable of interrupting Boris and showing Ken for what he is. When I was at the ‘Lembit 4 London’ launch event, I was surprised at how many people there were not Liberal Democrats. People there were Greens, socialists and charity workers. I’ve heard the same story from left wingers time and time again – they don’t want Boris but they know that Ken isn’t the answer to all their problems. Lembit is, believe it or not, one of the most respected Liberal Democrats unconnected with the Coalition. He is the man to show Londoners what liberalism means to their lives in the 21st Century. He is the personality to take on Boris and Ken.

You can find his Facebook page here.

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This entry was posted in London and Op-eds.


  • Alan Muhammed Alan Muhammed 5th Jun '11 - 3:29pm

    Why are people so keen to reward for failure in the Liberal Democrats? We do it all the time. Don’t you think that having someone as a complete joke of a candidate simply feeds more into Ken and Boris’s campaign and makes it a two-horse race? Can’t you see the negative campaign leaflets coming on this one? It’s quite something to turn a solidly Liberal seat into a Tory one – I call that failure. I like Lembit as a person and if selected, would throw everything into the campaign, but having met with a Mont constiuent of his whose family owns a pub that Lembit used to frequent during the General Election, from what I’ve been told, Lembit was there most nights when he could have been canvassing and in the latter days, I’m told he just knew it was hopeless. It’s all very well having flashes of motivation occasionally, but to be a Lib Dem candidate who has any chance of success (even if that means coming a good third), you have to be a consistent performer. I would urge anybody to go back and read the blog post of the last London Mayoral campaign manager (now sadly deceased) and think very, VERY carefully – http://andrewrunning.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-lembit-opik-should-not-be-lib-dem.html .

  • Hell no. He couldn’t even keep a rock-solid majority in his own seat.

  • Grammar Police 5th Jun '11 - 4:56pm

    This is actually a good article, but I want to know how having Lembit as a candidate is going to help us get more Lib Dems on seats in the London Assembly. I simply don’t think it would.

  • Iain Sharpe 5th Jun '11 - 5:06pm

    Sadly, Lembit seems to have no understanding of how he is the author of his own misfortunes. There is no earthly reason why the Lib Dems should have lost Montgomery last year. He would come across as at once a carpet bagger and a loser. The Lib Dems would be better making a token effort for the mayoral election and focusing on trying to keep seats in the Assembly.

  • introduce shared ownership schemes to make houses affordable for residents – HOW?

    promote home-working to reduce congestion and pollution – HOW?

    tackle the issue of whether the Tube should run 24 hours a day – HOW?

    pioneer a more liberal drugs policy – HOW?

    champion small business – HOW?

  • Lembit’s issues in Montgomery were linked to a problem between the Welsh Assembly Member and a paramedic.I don’t blame Mick Bates entirely, there are demographic issues, but it was very unhelpful that he got into an ‘unfortunate drunken fracas with a paramedic in Cardiff’. Now I understand he is to be ‘expelled from the party’.


    To determine the reason for Lembit’s loss in Montgomeryshire and whether it is personal you need to compare the results in Brecon and Radnor (the only other seat we held) with those in Montgomeryshire. There is a pattern running across the AM and parliamentary votes showing that the Lib Dems were suffering in all elections in the constituency of Montgomeryshire and doing well in all votes in Brecon and Radnor. There is only heresay evidence that it was a personal vote against Lembit and I don’t find it convincing. The problem of falling support affected all candidates in the Montgomershire constituency.

    The figures show that all candidates in Montgomeryshire did poorly and all candidates in Brecon and Radnor did well. These are the facts therefore I don’t see how Lembit can be blamed. Lots of people offer heresay evidence but no numbers. Actually Lembit’s result was the best of the elections in 2009 (Euro) , 10 (General) and 11 (Assembly). Obviously you can find hostility to Lembit and there is also support. The question is whether there is any statistical evidence that there was an anti Lembit vote as a result of his profile: there is none that I can see.

    Lembit’s campaign team will be releasing detail on the headline policies that have been mentioned. We are aware that the party members need detail for the start of the campaign. We are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on some of the detail. We are also in communications with TFL and other experts and plan to release this at the start of the campaign proper. I would like to make it clear that we do understand that runnning the tube 24/7 is a non starter but running the tube at night on some occasions is possible and has been done on New Years Eve. I would urge people to wait and see what our suggestions are rather than making assumptions.

    The reason why I have not posted answers on Martin’s site is that I wish to answer them on this forum. This is because it is for Lib Dems and is also moderated.

    Ed Joyce

  • Liberal Neil 5th Jun '11 - 7:28pm

    The key difference between Kne & Boris and Lembit is that while both Ken & Boris have their critics, and a less serious side to their image, they are also taken seriously as politicians capable of doing things.

    Lembit may be well known, but he is really only well known for not having a serious side to him.

    I can’t see how he would bring anything positive to the Lib Dem campaign.

  • Born in Northern Ireland
    Undergraduate in Bristol
    Non-Political Career in North East England
    MP in a Welsh constituency

    I’m afraid that these are the things I believe are most against him. Find someone from London. His interest in the City is linked to his failure to win a previous rock solid seat. True, London is one of the most diverse cities in the world and his Eastern European credentials may help, but over 6 million people live in the place, a substantial number Liberal Democrats, some high profile.

    These are the people to choose from. Lib Dems used to believe in localism and local democracy. It should be no different in a Mayoral race. People who have lived and breathed the problems and perks of London and have played a part in it’s life or politics over years are where the search should be limited to.

    Boris was elected both because of (by Tories) and in spite of (by others) his policies. This time round the larger than life character will not be as much help as he has a record to stand by. Ken, despite what people think of his policies, is pretty much an open book. People see him as Ken, he doesn’t run away from his decisions and is willing to go toe to toe to debate them. Both have high profiles, and Boris will join Ken in having a record to stand on.

    People listen to Ken (even his enemies, ask Thatcher and Blair), laugh with Boris, and will laugh at Lembit.

  • paul barker 5th Jun '11 - 10:23pm

    It seems to me that name-recognition is an absolute requirement just to get voters to listen. Unfortunately we have very few people with any real profile, in fact I can only think of two, Lembit & Simon. If we put up someone most voters dont recognise we will be ignored.

  • Ed – we also held Ceredigion and Cardiff Central. Ceredigion and B&R are more comparable with Montgomeryshire

    Ceredigion – LD vote up 12%
    Brecon & Radnor – LD vote up 1.3%
    Montgomeryshire – LD vote down 12.5%

    “The problem of falling support affected all candidates in the Montgomershire constituency.”

    I didn’t think there were local elections there in 2010 so who were the other candidates. Only the Labour party lost support compared to 2010.

    “Actually Lembit’s result was the best of the elections in 2009 (Euro) , 10 (General) and 11 (Assembly).”

    So he polled better than (a) The Euros where we have traditionally polled about 10% below opinion poll ratings and (b) a set of elections which saw our worst results for 30 years. Whoop-de-do.

  • Paul McKeown 5th Jun '11 - 11:03pm

    What with Krusty the Klown and Bozo standing as the main mayoral candidates, I find myself despairing at the thought of the Lib Dems putting up a third circus act. Give me someone to feel proud voting for, someone who might even inspire to get out on the hoof, handing out flyers or whatever.

  • Hywel,
    I agree with you that the result was bad in Montgomeryshire. The question is whether Lembit was to blame. My suggestion was that his loss of votes was linked to demographic changes and the Mick Bates affair. Actually Lembit scored a better result in the constituency than the party did in 2009 or 2011. I know that there is a lot of heresay evidence that Lembit was unpopular and also plenty to say that he was popular. When I look at the numbers, however, I don’t see that Lembit was the cause of the loss of the seat because he did better than other candidates in the same constituency. I know that there are variances in opinion poll ratings but they did not affect the neighbouring seat.

    The reason that I have moved the discussion onto this forum is that Mayor Watch did not moderate personal comments made about me. I don’t want to be rude about anyone so I would rather have the discussion on a forum where such comments are deleted by the moderators. Obviously I do understand that on the internet there is some rough speaking but this proved to be a way out on this occasion. The end ‘customers’ will be the readers of Mayor Watch, however we need to win the selection first. If we are fortunate enough to win the selection we will of course be looking to post on your site.

    On your other issues Lembit has been at City Hall – here is an example


    You are right to say that we have not produced a full briefing on the tubes but the nominations are not even closed yet. I have no doubt that you will provide a robust criticism of the plans once they are released

    Ed Joyce

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Jun '11 - 9:00am

    The biggest problem with Lembit Öpik is that he is taken too seriously. He has made a series of poor judgments which I think ought to have ruled him out of any position of influence. He has made himself a joke and ought to be treated as such, and yet one finds the media taking his campaign to be Liberal Democrat Mayor of London seriously.

    Well, this illustrates why the executive mayor idea is so wrong. He’s not being pushed because he’s the best person for the job, but because he’s someone who has public recognition as a “personality”. I don’t want London to be run by an elected dictator who is there more for being a popular celebrity. I don’t want London to be run by an elected dictator AT ALL, I want power to be held collegially, which is the Liberal and British way, by a council which is elected in a way that makes sure it is properly representative of the people in all their variety. Sure, this council may elect a leader, but it should do so on the basis of expertise and the knowledge of its members of that leader working with him or her as a colleague, with the leader always responsible to that council, primus inter pares, able to be overturned and replaced by someone else at any time if he or she loses the confidence of the council. The great Liberal mayors of the 19th century never needed to be directly elected, never called for the abolition of the voting rights of their councillors so they could become dictators, so why do we need that form of governance now?

    I hate, I HATE, HATE, HATE the way our society is now dominated by the cult of celebrity. It is a new elitism, a new religion, with all the faults of the old ones and more added, so very damaging and so against all I have ever stood for as a Liberal. The mayor system is part of this, and the pushing of Mr Öpik as a “personality” more so. A firm rejection of him would just be a small part on fighting back against the cult of celebrity and restoring decency and dignity to this country.

  • Cllr Mark Wright 6th Jun '11 - 9:10am

    Geoffrey, people have been explaining “Left wing libertarianism” to you for years on the LDV forums, and you have refused to listen to any of it. I dont expect you to change now just to understand Lembit.

  • David, Twickenham 6th Jun '11 - 9:16am

    Hear hear to:

    “paul barker
    Posted 5th June 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink
    It seems to me that name-recognition is an absolute requirement just to get voters to listen. Unfortunately we have very few people with any real profile, in fact I can only think of two, Lembit & Simon. If we put up someone most voters dont recognise we will be ignored.”

    I’m sure Mike Tuffrey is a great candidate for the London Mayoralty and its electoral process as we would like it to be. Just as I’m sure Susan Kramer and Brian Paddick were. As the Mayoralty and the process actually are, Lembit is a far more attractive candidate and would get us – and our campaign and Assembly candidates – than yet another well-meaning relatively unknown figure. Who will get ‘crosses’ on ballots?

    I’ve just wasted a lot of time on a fundamentally duff campaign (AV). If we select another ‘grey man’ I’m not doing it next year, nor opening my cheque book either.

  • I’d consider backing Lembit. With all the will in the world we aren’t going to win London any time soon. Lembit is entertaining and likeable, if a bit of a winger sometimes. He’d certainly campaign hard. As long as the party get behind him he could do ok for some of our assembly candidates and would give the Lib Dems some much needed profile. He can also hold his own in a debate with what are two quick witted and intelligent candidates.

  • “My suggestion was that his loss of votes was linked to demographic changes and the Mick Bates affair.”

    What were the demographic changes?

    I’ve not seen anything either before the election or afterwards suggesting that these were something that couldn’t threaten Lembit’s chances or as an explanation. There was no indication of demographic changes having an effect in the 2007 or 2009 elections, so to cause a 12% vote drop they must have been pretty massive. The elecorate was up by about 2000 – which hardly explains a 2,500 vote drop in Lembits vote (on an increased turnout) or all of the 5,500 increase in the Tory vote.

    Lembits achievement in 2010 (when we polled our second highest national vote share in a GE and he was a 3-term sitting MP) was to poll about 4% more than a non-incumbent Welsh Assembly candidate standing on a day when we polled our lowest vote share for 30 years. To suggest there is a comparision is pretty much fantasy land.

  • Foregone Conclusion 6th Jun '11 - 12:09pm

    Why can’t Lembit speak for himself? Every months seems to see one or another of his surrogates pop up and say what a fantastic mayor he’d be, yet he hasn’t really said anything on the subject himself.

    Personally, I think that anyone who thinks we’d win the London mayoralty, Lembit or no Lembit, is deluding themselves. My concern is that he could potentially harm our efforts to keep assembly members in London, and given the massive media frenzy that surrounds London Mayoral elections, councillors elsewhere. He can be serious, but unlike Boris he’s showing no serious wish to actually do so.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Jun '11 - 1:06pm

    David, Twickenham

    I’ve just wasted a lot of time on a fundamentally duff campaign (AV). If we select another ‘grey man’ I’m not doing it next year, nor opening my cheque book either

    And if Mr Öpik is selected as Mayoral candidate purely on the basis that he is someone who people recognise, I shall certainly not spend any of my time or money on campaigning for him. There are three reasons Mr Öpik is known and recognised, and all of them are very good reasons for him not being our candidate. The first is his series of blunders and spectacularly wrong calls, which have made him a comic figure – people are laughing AT him, not with him. The second is his extreme narcissism which has got him noticed, and seems to have attracted a band of naïve followers, but I find a most unattractive characteristic, and I find when it exists in a politician (as it often does) that politician is generally very poor at doing the real job. The third is his attempt to jump on the “libertarian” bandwagon, which has attracted a certain amount of right-wing press support, and probably also contributes to the number of naïve followers, but it’s a bandwagon which has run its course and is now attracting only the most superficial and thoughtless types apart from those who genuinely do well from it – the extreme wealthy.

    I don’t agree with the mayoral system, but as it exists and so we must fight with it, I say we show what we think of it by going for a grey man (or woman) who has the COMPETENCE and KNOWLEDGE to do the job, and say to the electorate “stuff celebrity – we’re Liberals and we’re against that sort of thing”. Here’s to grey power!! Or (in the words which I think were Clive Buckman’s, anyway someone in the 1980s YLs) “The meek shall inherit the earth. But only after they form the meek vanguard party”.

  • I’d vote for Lembit. He’s far more interesting than most. Hopefully, he’d help us appeal to a wider audience, rather than just those who follow politics. I don’t understand why engagment with popular culture, such as that jungle TV show, is such a bad thing for a politician. It shows potential voters that politicians are ‘real people’ that we can relate to.

  • Hi Hywel,

    I suggest that about 1000 of the 5500 vote increase in the Conservative vote was due to new build on the Shrewsbury side of the constituency and other demographic changes and 1000 was down to national trends. 600 of the loss to Lembit was down to national trends. A big part of the rest was down to Mick Bate’s actions. These came at the worst time for Lembit in the run up to the election.


    The evidence that says that it was down to Lembit is heresay and matched by opposing heresay evidence. In the next constituency we increased our vote in the assembly election but Wyn Willliams was unable to do this in Montgomeryshire. It is not right to blame Wyn, Lembit or the Euro 2009 campaigners. They all suffered from related problems. Lembit had the worst of it due to the timing of the ‘fracas with Mick Bates’ but still managed the best result.

    I don’t think that most of the people who have blamed Lembit from afar are aware that the AM for the constituency was convicted of common assault and is now apparently to be expelled from the party.

    Ed Joyce

    Ed Joyce

  • Matthew Tisdale 6th Jun '11 - 6:12pm

    am a Lib Dem supporter from Montgomeryshire
    Lembit once told me, “You don’t win an election, in an election”. I completely agree with him, but if that’s the case, then why did he lose? Many people in Montgomeryshire will agree, Lembit served us well as an MP, I always used to see him around Newtown, talking to people and listening to their views. Doing far more than Montgomeryshire’s new MP is doing, Lembit continued help his constituent’s right to the bitter end.In the run up, to the general election, positive conservative feeling was growing across the country, and was having a small effect on Montgomeryshire, I know this myself, having lived there all my life. The impact of the recession, the situation with the Bankers, and the expenses scandal, the people just didn’t trust Parliament. Although Lembit didn’t actually take advantage of the expenses system, lembit, like many other MP’s felt the wrath of the electorate.
    As if Lembit’s task of survival couldn’t be more difficult, Mick Bates, Liberal Democrat Member of the Welsh Assembly for Montgomeryshire, was fined for three counts of common assault and for public disorder whilst on a night out in Cardiff. Naturally this angered the People of Montgomeryshire and conservative feeling grew faster than ever.
    Thats my opinion as a local Montgomeryshore activist as to why Lembit lost. Mick was the factor which lost it and thats why we also lost the AM seat last month. I know that Lembit is a good constituency MP and think that he would be a good mayor. Thats why I am supporting Lembit4London
    Matthew Tisdale

  • Tony Dawson 6th Jun '11 - 6:45pm

    Demographic changes? Southport also continues to undergo further ‘gentrification’ year on year with increased intake to flats in the constituency by people who come in from places where Lib Dems often come third or worse, and building of 5 bedroom houses with triple garages.

    We got our best ever Lib Dem vote in 2011. The Tories achieved their worst vote ever here. That is since time began.

  • To those unwilling to face up to facts, I would point out that Mick Bates was not the candidate. Lembit was the candidate, and it was Lembit who lost.

    “I don’t understand why engagement with popular culture, such as that jungle TV show, is such a bad thing for a politician.”

    Do you think writing for Sullivan’s “Daily Sport” is a good thing? Or splashing one’s private life in a celebrity magazine?

    Cyril Smith got away with stunts and gimmicks, because he always retained his dignity. Lembit, by contrast, invites ridicule every time he shows his face.

    To be an effective showman requires a certain skill, and Lembit doesn’t have it.

  • “I don’t think that most of the people who have blamed Lembit from afar are aware that the AM for the constituency was convicted of common assault and is now apparently to be expelled from the party.”

    Was it true that Mick proposed Lembit as Glyn Davies claims?

  • Hi Hywel,
    Could you provide me with the source of that – is it online or heresay ?

  • Oh come one a half decent politician without Lembit’s baggage and actually campaigning hard would have kept Montgomeryshire with a safe majority. Unfortunately Lembit is none of these things and there is no way he should be allowed to be our Mayorial Candidate.

  • Ed – furthermore, if Mick was such a drag on the Lembit campaign then why was he on the Montgomeryshire website as late as April 15th 2010 in the middle of the GE campaign?

    If Lembit acheived such a good result in 2010 then did he feature on any of Wyn Williams leaflets in 2011? Obviously not everything might be on electionleaflets.org but I can’t see him on any of the leaflets that are up there. Interestingly Alec Carlile does appear on one of them so clearly people thought that endorsement from former MPs had some merit.

  • It is clear that Mick Bates was an issue in the campaign. Both campaigns were badly affected in a similar way. The fact that Mick was being used to attack the Lembit campaign in the run up to the election is clear from the Glyn Davis site


    It seems clear that the Conservatives had picked the Mick Bates issue as one that would help them to win the seat.

    I understand that there is hostility to Lembit in some quarters and many blame him for the loss of the seat, but the figures don’t back up this view. Lembit got the best result of the three elections 2009, 10 and 11. This does not seem to correlate to the view that Lembit’s profile is to blame for the problems in the seat.

    I believe that most of those commenting in these threads over the last 12 months were unaware of the Mick Bates affair but being aware of Lembit’s profile put two and two together and assumed that this was what caused the loss of the seat. Numbers are needed to back this up, however and in my view the figures point to an underlying issue affecting all three results which I assume to be the Mick Bates affair and other changes in the constituency profile unrelated to Lembit, Wyn or our Euro Candidates.

    I will deal with the other issues separately when I get a spare minute.


  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Jun '11 - 9:44am

    Matthew Tisdale

    Many people in Montgomeryshire will agree, Lembit served us well as an MP, I always used to see him around Newtown, talking to people and listening to their views. Doing far more than Montgomeryshire’s new MP is doing, Lembit continued help his constituent’s right to the bitter end.

    Well then, if this and what else you wrote is so, the best thing he could do would be to stay working there and win back the seat. Quite clearly if he is the well-known and respected person there you claim him to be, he is the best person to be there as our candidate next time. In which case, running off and trying to become candidate for Mayor of London is yet another example of his extreme poor judgment and narcissism. It gives the impression he couldn’t wait to get shot of the people of Montgomeryshire and move off to the bright lights of London so he could star somewhere where a man of his standing would be appreciated. I rather feel that keeping his mouth ZIPPED outside Montgomeryshire, and keeping his mug off the national papers, and working quietly in his former constituency would have gained him the respect he has lost and re-established him as a serious politician.

  • Tony Dawson 7th Jun '11 - 10:45am

    “The worst thing we could do is allow the election to turn into a two horse race between Ken and Boris”

    Agree, and an Opik candidacy would deliver exactly this”

    Eh? ‘turn into….”???

    The two horse race is where the contest ALREADY IS. So what the Lib Dems need is a distinctive liberal and ‘London through and through’ candidacy which will change that situation. Do we have such a candidate anywhere? Do we have such a campaign? I don’t think Lembit is ‘it’ or would deliver ‘it’.

  • Matthew Tisdale 7th Jun '11 - 11:05am

    Matthew Huntbach

    You speak as if you know the people of Montgomeryshire? Do you? As i explained already in my previous comment, conservative feeling was growing across the country and Montgomeryshire was also being won over. This was due to several factors, but the clearest one is because of the financial mess that we were left in by the last government. People also did not trust parliament, the expenses scandal angered the electorate, although Lembit didnt take advantage of the system, he like many other MP’s suffered as a result. Now, the main point, and most clear cut reason why Lembit lost the election was because of Montgomeryshire’s A.M at the time, Mick Bates. He behaved in an idiotic ,manner and this was the final straw for Montgomeryshire. The main reason Lembit Lost is because of the blunders of Mick Bates, that is the main reason, added to the fact that nationally, the people felt the need for change

  • Ed – If Montgomeryshire generally was doing poorly and acutally Lembit was a popular figure who boosted our vote in 2010 wouldn’t you expect that you vote decline between 2010 and 2011 would be more marked than in other comparable seats?

  • Jonathan Hunt 7th Jun '11 - 12:12pm

    I am shocked at the number of illiberal, prejudiced and even bigoted atitudes to Lembit.

    He has done silly thing in his personal life, and for an intelligent man who thinks more deeply and imaginatively about political ideas than many of our MPs and peers, allows himself to b seen s somehing of a buffon to the public.

    But isn’t that what called Boris before he was elected — and many still do. When people talked about Boris getting his leg over, they were not always refering to the crossbar of his stury steed.

    To obtain votes in a silly election for a siily post like Mayor of London, maybe being silly — or just daft — is an basic requirement. Cerainly in age of celebrity, being known by the popular polulace for something is essential. I is an election we

    We have had candidates generally seen as serious and responsible, and rejected by the electorate as just plain boring. Even Simon Hughes only obtained 15 per cent, a fraction more than Susan Kramer.

    Having been out canvessing with Lempit fairly recently, I was amazed at his recognition factor in an ordinary Peckham street. “Sharron, get down and see who we got here,” was a common response. So too were Sharron an Tracey’s — and Lucindas — in pubs wanting to be photographed wth him,

    Frankly, Lembit would get us more votes than many eanest, worthy local politicians. And if selected, would command attention tfor the kind of radical policies that Londoners are crying out for.

    The least we can do is see who else is willing to stand before maing our choice. My vote for hopefuls mentioned would be for Duwayne Brooks. But running now for election in 2016, when Ken and Boris will have disappeared. At best, it is a two-step process, with a canadidate who has the potential to grow into the job,

    And be quoted on London issues as a result of having been mayoral candidate.

    But sadly, those forces of reaction that control candidate issues, and have prevented any Afro-Caribbeans getting on the GLA slate, have sidelined Duwayne for now.

    So we wait to see who we have to choose fom. Certainly, no-one should be written off until then.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Jun '11 - 2:23pm

    Matthew Huntbach

    You speak as if you know the people of Montgomeryshire? Do you?

    I don’t at all, I am responding simply to what you wrote. You appear to be saying that Mr Öpik was a well loved and capable MP for his constituency whose loss of it was not his fault. I am agreeing with you and making the conclusion from what you wrote that the best thing he could do, therefore, is to put his efforts into wining back the constituency next time. So what point are you trying to make? What you wrote does not fit in with what I wrote, it seems to be based on an assumption I wrote something else.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Jun '11 - 2:41pm

    Jonathan Hunt

    I am shocked at the number of illiberal, prejudiced and even bigoted atitudes to Lembit.

    Why is it “illiberal, prejudiced and even bigoted” to have considered the strong character of Mr Öpik, but not so to have drawn another? If you want the man to be judged on his public character, then you have to accept how that judgment comes, good or bad. Tastes differ, and my tastes are very much against that sort of character, yours may be different. I’m sorry that I do have something of a prejudice against narcissists, but that does come from experience of the great damage they can cause.

    I’m also, as I tried to make clear, very much opposed to the cult of celebrity. I’m sorry in that way I do not conform to the way of our country as it is, that I dissent from what has now become its religion, but I do. I hate with a vengeance the way politics and public life is being narrowed so that one has to have a certain sort of character to succeed, and this is just accepted. To me that is as prejudiced as saying we must not have a non-white candidate, because the people wouldn’t like it. I am not in politics just for power never mind to do what, or just to see elections won by someone with the same coloured rosette as me. Therefore, I am not going to give in to popular prejudice regarding who is best to be a politician, and would rather do what I can to educate the public to think more deeply, even if that is at the cost of losing votes.

    As for Mr Öpik’s much vaunted policies for the post, they seem to me to be pretty much back of an envelope stuff.

    Sorry if you do not like an opinion honestly expressed, but here is mine again – I believe it would be a disaster if Mr Öpik were selected as Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London. For me, it would be a disaster enough to make me reconsider whether I wanted to be a member of the party, and I certainly would not want to spend a minute of my time or a penny of my money promoting him. You may not like me saying that, but I have made the right call on several things the party has been doing recently, saying just what and why it was doing wrong, and I think I my opinions on these matters deserve some respect for that.

  • Hi Hywel,

    You ask a very pertinent question. It is a few rows up so I will repeat it

    “If Montgomeryshire generally was doing poorly and acutally Lembit was a popular figure who boosted our vote in 2010 wouldn’t you expect that the vote decline between 2010 and 2011 would be more marked than in other comparable seats?”

    As you suggest I would expect statistically the vote decline to be marked in Montgomeryshire because Lembit was adding to the vote in the constituency.

    There were two other seats where we held the assembly seat. Cardiff and Brecon – in both cases we have the MP. In the General Election in Brecon we scored 46.2% and in the Assembly we scored 43%. The drop was 7% of the votes scored. In Cardiff the drop was 9% In the General Election in Montgomeryshire we scored 37.8% with Lembit and 33.6% in the Assembly. This was a drop of 11.2%. Lembit’s result was the best when comparing the AM and GE elections. I calculate that Lembits profile was worth about 500 additional votes. I think that if we had put another candidate into the constituency then the GE vote would have been below 12,300.

    What happened when Lembit lost was that people nationally were unaware of the Mick Bates affair but aware of Lembit’s profile. They put two and two together and assumed that it was Lembits profile that lost us the seat. Many were expecting that we would hold the AM seat because Lembit was not standing. Unfortunately for us the problems ran deeper and the underlying causes that caused Lembit problems also caused Wyn Williams the assembly candidate to lose.

    Its easy to find heresay evidence to blame Lembit but also easy to find the reverse. The numbers point to an underlying problem in the constituency.

    The numbers are below to save LDV readers looking them up.

    Ed Joyce

    Conservative Glyn Davies 13,976 41.3 +13.8
    Liberal Democrat Lembit Öpik 12,792 37.8 -12.5
    Plaid Cymru Heledd Fychan 2,802 8.3 +1.3
    Labour Nick Colbourne 2,407 7.1 -5.2
    UKIP David W L Rowlands 1,128 3.3 +0.4
    National Front Milton Ellis 384 1.1 N/A
    Independent Bruce Lawson 324 1.0 N/A
    Majority 1,184 3.5
    Turnout 33,813 69.4 +3.1

    Conservative Russell George 10,026 43.7 +13.6
    Liberal Democrats Wyn Williams 7,702 33.6 -5.4
    Labour Nick Colbourne 2,609 11.4 +4.5
    Plaid Cymru David Senior 2,596 11.3 -2.5
    Majority 2,324 10.1
    Turnout 22,933 47.2 +0.3
    Conservative gain from Liberal Democrats Swing 9.5%

    Liberal Democrat Roger Williams 17,929 46.2 +1.3
    Conservative Suzy Davies 14,182 36.5 +1.9
    Labour Chris Lloyd 4,096 10.4 -4.5
    Plaid Cymru Janet Davies 989 2.5 -1.1
    UKIP Clive Easton 876 2.3 +0.4
    Green Dorienne Robinson 341 0.9 +0.9
    Christian Jeffery Green 222 0.6 +0.6
    Monster Raving Loony Chris “Lord Offa of the Dyke” Rogers 210 0.5 +0.5
    Majority 3,747 9.6
    Turnout 38,845 72.5 +3.0
    Liberal Democrat hold Swing -0.3

    Liberal Democrats Kirsty Williams 12,201 43 -9.2
    Conservative Chris Davies 9,444 33.3 -0.3
    Labour Chris Lloyd 4,797 16.9 +8.2
    Plaid Cymru Gary Price 1,906 6.7 +1.2
    Majority 2,757 9.7
    Turnout 28,348 52.9
    Liberal Democrats hold Swing -4.5

    Liberal Democrat Jenny Willott 14,976 41.4 -8.4
    Labour Jenny Rathbone 10,400 28.8 -5.5
    Conservative Karen Robson 7,799 21.6 +12.3
    Plaid Cymru Chris Williams 1,246 3.4 -0.1
    UKIP Sue Davies 765 2.1 +1.1
    Green Sam Coates 575 1.6 +1.6
    Trade Unionist & Socialist Ross Saunders 162 0.4 +0.4
    Monster Raving Loony Mark Beech (A.K.A.- ‘The Good Knight Sir NosDa’) 142 0.4 +0.4
    Independent Alun Mathias 86 0.2 +0.2
    Majority 4,576 12.7
    Turnout 36,151 59.1 +0.0
    Liberal Democrat hold Swing -1.4

    Labour Jenny Rathbone 8,954 37.9 +16
    Liberal Democrats Nigel Howells 8,916 37.7 -13.4
    Conservative Matt Smith 3,559 15.1 +1.1
    Plaid Cymru Chris Williams 1,690 7.2 -1.1
    Independent Mathab Khan 509 2.2 N/A
    Majority 38 0.2
    Turnout 23,628 38.0 +2.0
    Labour gain from Liberal Democrats Swing +14.7

  • Ed – this is psephological nonsense. For a start B&R had a sitting AM (with a massive profile to boot) contrast our Montgomery candidate was a non-incumbent first time candidate.

    Have you got an answer as to whether Mick nominated Lembit (as Glyn Davies claims)? I wouldn’t have thought it was a difficult question to answer. (though there are two ways he could have proposed him – either at the adoption meeting or by signing his nomination paper. If he was a suspended/expelled member he couldn’t have done the former).

    I have no doubt that Glyn had electoral advantage in mind when he posted that. But if this wasn’t true then Glyn has both libelled Lembit and committed a criminal offence so I would have expected this point to have been challenged at election time.

  • Hi Hywel,

    I have not got an answer yet on the Mick Bates nomination issue. I have not forgotten about it and will get a resolution on that. On the issue of first time candidates Nigel in Cardiff was a first timer. Kirsty in Brecon was not, Wyn was. I would accept your point that it does make some difference since the newcomers did fare worse, however Nigel did better than Wyn implying that Lembit was more of a positive factor than a negative one.


  • Tony Dawson 7th Jun '11 - 7:50pm

    “Nigel did better than Wyn implying that Lembit was more of a positive factor than a negative one.”

    SERIOUS straw-clutching, surely?

    I would just suggest that the morale and organisational competence of the Montgomery Lib Dems might have been shattered by experiencing the worst Lib Dem performance in the UK in 2011. And, since the election was for an AM, the voters’ minds might have thought a bit more during the campaign about the past AM?

  • Jonathan Hunt 7th Jun '11 - 10:02pm

    I agree with most of Matthew Huntbach’s views on the more cynical aspects of politics. In furtherance of that principle, if we may call it such, i believe we should not condemn one taleneted individual out of hand.

    We need to weigh up what each candidate can offer, and measure that against our objectives for the office. If we don’t think much of the office, we may have different views from those who do.

    If we want a standard-bearer for finer historic Liberal Democrat values, then we see who could best communicate these. If we want someone who will win the highest number of votes, we look for the qualities we think will achieve that. If we want someone who will represent the ‘economic’ right; or the ‘social’ left, we make that choice.

    If we don’t like the cult of celebrity, then it weighs lower on our criteria than other attributes. If we want someone like Boris and Ken, or is totally different, then that person should top our list. If we want someone to train and nurture for 2016, we look for that person.

    Matthew has quite patently thought through these issues and come to a decision. As one who shares the view that political integrity is vital and that politics is not just about winning (having just renewed my Arsenal season ticket should be proof that I am more concerned about how well you play the game than the results).

    I doubt that many have thought it through so asiduously. But I do believe Lembit offers considerable abilities in many of these fields and should not be written off for a single reason. If we want someone who can fight Ken and Boris on their own terms and will be listened to, for example, he could be the best choice. He may not if we want someone entirely different.

    But let us keep open minds until we see the runners in the paddock (or even the paddick) .

  • For the good of the Welsh LDs I hope that Lembit gets to run for London mayor – and that we can find a couple of good candidates around whom to rebuild in Montgomeryshire. Classic example of indiscipline and taking the voters from granted from both players.

  • Lembit is popular among many EU citizens especially Eastern Europeans.
    I love an oblique reference to the Cheeky Girls as much as the next man, but Lembit is not the man for this particular job.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Jun '11 - 10:50am

    Jonathan Hunt

    I doubt that many have thought it through so assiduously. But I do believe Lembit offers considerable abilities in many of these fields and should not be written off for a single reason. If we want someone who can fight Ken and Boris on their own terms and will be listened to, for example, he could be the best choice.

    If Mr Öpik wishes to restore his credibility and do the best for himself and our party, then the best thing he could do is quietly work in Montgomeryshire to win back his constituency. So far as I can see, those who know that place and are writing in his support here simply back up this case. Pushing himself forward in this aggressive way to be the Mayor of London candidate, recruiting this band of naïve fans, is simply more evidence of the man’s instability and narcissism – all those traits that have come to make me dislike him so much, and there was a time when I didn’t think badly of him. I don’t think he stands a chance in the Mayoral election should he be nominated, and I regret that from his record in the recent past, he may well just further embarrass us and him should he have the public platform of being our candidate. For those who value Lembit, I urge you: if you value him and want to see what is best for him and us, what he should be doing is working quietly to go back to being a good constituency MP and to lose the silly image he has built up recently, and that is what you should be urging him to do.

  • Matthew Tisdale 9th Jun '11 - 11:10am
  • Ed – have you been able to find out whether Mick did propose Lembit as Glynn Davies claims?

    It does seem pretty relevant as it would be a pretty poor piece of political judgement if Lembit chose to associate himself so closely with the person who (it is claimed) cost him his seat.

  • In my opinion, Mike thingy doesn’t have the profile and Lembit doesn’t have the experience. Best hope is for Brian Paddick to put himself forward – as he has both.


  • Hywel,
    I am dealing with a number of issues related to the Mick Bate’s affair including your question of the npmination. A further statement on this is planned. I am not ignoring this and plan a fuller comment later before the vote takes place as your question deserves an answer. I will try to comment here on this issue to give you the answer requested.

  • Ed – why is it not possible to give this question a straight yes or no answer? Either he did or he didn’t?

    If you can’t produce a decent rebuttal to an inaccurate claim (and I note that Lembit claims to have a full time worker plus you recently advertised for an intern) then it does not fill me with confidence about your ability to handle the rigours of an intensive campaign.

  • I am not a lib dem supporter but I think lembit is a genuine guy. He suffered a lot at the hands of the tabloid journalists and sian llloyd who kept moaning about him a long time after she married her millionaire husband. I believe he would make a good mayor of london.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Aug '17 - 10:46am

    When i made a speech at federal conference about Stalin’s invasion of Finland in 1939 and why it failed, quoting a Norwegian historian, Lembit Opik came across to congratulate me on the speech but warning me about the attitude of conference delegates. Since then Finland successfully applied to join the EU, but not NATO, and Putin’s Russia has continued to be bearish towards smaller countries in Europe.
    As a eurocandidate he was asked what Lembit Opik means and replied that it is an anagram (try it) for ‘Don’t privatise the Post Office’.
    Today Lembit has a slot on a digital regional news channel for BBC Southeast. He is following up an opinion poll which concluded that William should succeed, not Charles.
    i did not call in, but, as a second son myself, would note that Edward resigned in favour of George and that Winston had a distinguished career, including being appointed by David L-G to a responsible position in which he was effective.
    There is therefore a case for experience of military service in a CV being relevant in this troubled world, including empathy with the wounded. There is much more to what Kipling said than Pensioners going to the Chelsea flower Show in uniform.

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