Statement from the party about the London mayoral candidature

Here is a tweet from our party President, Mark Pack from last night:

Updated 10:50 14/9/2020: In line with our normal policies, we have not been publishing comments which explicitly favour or disfavour one candidate in a party election process. This particular case is now under investigation, so we will not be publishing speculative comments on the details.

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  • Is there any chance of Re-opening the Shortlist so that we can have a genuine competition ?

  • Sue Sutherland 14th Sep '20 - 1:19pm

    I’m glad that strong action has been taken.

  • Alex Macfie 14th Sep '20 - 1:20pm

    Best we don’t. If no-one else came forward last month why do you suppose anyone would now? And we’ve wasted enough time as it is. And I don’t think I can trust the London Lib Dem selection committee after this debacle. We have an excellent candidate now in Luisa. The most sensible way forward now is to use what would have been the hustings time to grill her and make her known to the London electorate.

  • Renata Jackson 14th Sep '20 - 2:01pm

    Siobhan Benita said on twitter yesterday that she resigned from the LibDems last month. She has also said “There are serious issues that need fixing in the London region and I couldn’t run the campaign I wanted to.”

    I feel frustrated for three reasons:

    (1) I live in London and think both Sadiq Khan and Shaun Bailey are very poor candidates. Sadiq Khan has not done a good job as mayor over the past 4.5 years. He has not got budget and costs under control and he has played identity politics. Shaun Bailey is an intellectual lightweight and if he became mayor would either fall out with everyone around him or, even worse, be manipulated by a Tory cabal looking after Tory interests and not those of Londoners.

    (2) When Siobhan Benita became the LibDem candidate for mayor, I noted on this site the prior history of her standing as an independent candidate against LibDem Brian Paddick and said I was not sure that she was committed to the party. The fact that she has resigned from the party pretty much as soon as she stopped being the LibDem candidate seems to support my view on that. The LibDems have done a nice job of raising her media profile and she is now going to trade off that…

    (3) Nobody will say what these serious issues in the London region are that need fixing. I think it is poor form of Siobhan Benita to alude to “issues” but not spell them out. However, I think it is poor form of London LibDems not to be transparent about what the issues are.

  • Paul Barker 14th Sep '20 - 2:16pm

    If we cant Re-open the Shortlist, can we drop the spectacle of an Election with one Candidate & just appoint Louisa Porritt as our Mayoral Candidate quickly ?

  • I’m not sure if this is allowed given what is said above, but much as I am appalled the the new reports of the specifics in this case. I’m not clear what position the LibDems takes on historic events. This does need to be discussed somewhere so I will suggest it here.

    We have had the discussion of “cancel culture” on here before and it is a worrying trend to not see people as:
    1) being capable of change
    2) flawed people who may do something stupid in the moment but may not reflective of them at the time.

    I don’t think picking over the details of this particular case are helpful, but in general what are the parameters the LibDems regard as the cut off for conduct.

    I am concerned that no one seems to have been willing even to the most mild of standards for this stuff what is the LibDem position on this sort of matter? I suspect actually putting some baseline in writing may help the party in future as certain members (and probably MPs/Lords/office holders) have probably joined in a few social media pile-on’s in the last decade or so. However, it could be useful to have at least one party put in writing what they consider to be irrelevant.

    I give as the example that the LibDems received money from a Fraudster in 2005 and by 2010 Nick Clegg was describing it as “ages ago” which was generally accepted by the media. When Toby Young was being attacked for social media comments and articles he had written, the vast majority being more than 5 years previous, Layla Moran was stating that this made him unacceptable. Not judging whether the actions or response to either even was correct it raises the question of what is a sensible standard. No one seems to be willing to commit in any way. There just seems to be partisan self-interest driving judgements.

    What do LibDems actually thing the is a reasonable response to historic actions or comments, in principal?

  • Paul Barker 14th Sep '20 - 5:15pm

    We are a small Party, permanently short of cash & with no Friendly Media outlets to put our case for free. Its natural that we should welcome outsiders who already have some standing but its always a risk. In the case of Siobhan Benita the risk didnt pay off, lets put it down to experience.

  • Luisa would have won anyway. We have some marvellous talents including her. Mind I am feeling my age. I remember my student days dealing with Jack Straw when he was Secretary of the NUS. He did look Jewish. But then so do I and it’s never bothered me being raised in Prestwich for the first 8 years of my life. Shalom!

  • Renata Jackson 14th Sep '20 - 10:37pm

    “Bit embarrassing to have the former mayoral candidate resign from the party in the same week that one of her potential successors is removed”

    That’s not correct. Siobhan Benita said she resigned from the LibDems last month, i.e. some time in August so between two and six weeks ago. She announced her withdrawal as LibDem London mayoral candidate on 27 July. On 19 August she made a statement supporting Scottish independence, saying “If I were Scottish I’d vote yes at this stage. London independence from this shambles of a Brexit Britain wouldn’t be bad either.” .

    I don’t know to what extent the outcome of the LibDem leadership contest and/or policy differences over how LibDems should position themselves in relation to UK-EU relationship going forward and/or Scottish independence referendum played a role in Siobhan Benita withdrawing as a candidate and/or affirmatively deciding to leave the LibDems, which is more than just letting membership expire. All three issues that have generated much debate on this site in recent weeks.

    As a cynic, I would say the writing was on the wall for LibDem changes in the mayoral election following former Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart’s withdrawal as an independent candidate. With Stewart in the race there was the (relatively remote) possibility of him splitting Tory voters with Shaun Bailey and leaving the LibDem candidate ahead of both and sweeping up second preferences from them and the Greens to get ahead of Sadiq Khan. With Stewart gone and now Benita gone I see little chance of ousting Khan, regardless of who the LibDem candidate is.

  • Alex Macfie 15th Sep '20 - 2:53pm

    @Renata Jackson: Actually the Siobhan’s campaign was pleased/relieved that Rory Stewart had withdrawn from the race. Splitting the vote is much less of an issue under the Supplementary Vote system than under FPTP, but the calculation was that Stewart would have taken votes that would otherwise have gone to the Lib Dem candidate.
    Siobhan supported Ed in the leadership election. The timing of her announcement that she had resigned from the Lib Dems coincides with the revelation about Geeta Sidhu-Robb’s antisemitic campaigning in 1997, suggesting that this had something to do with it. Not, obviously, GSH’s actual shortlisting, as Siobhan had left before that, but some aspect of the culture of the London party (as she specifically stated) that enabled someone like GSH to be shortlisted without a proper background check.

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