Wednesday, September 12, 2007


The Candidate For You?

Excitement is building up about potential candidates for the largest-franchise elected positions both in Britain and the United States – the Mayor of London and, somewhat more grandly if somewhat less directly elected, the President. Yesterday the Liberal Democrats announced their shortlist for the Mayoralty, while in the early hours of this morning Jonathan Calder linked to a handy guide to which Presidential candidate might suit you best. Anders Hanson has also written a piece about Brian Paddick which, as well as being jolly nice about me (thanks, Anders) raised two questions to which Mr Paddick has now supplied answers – do pop over and have a read. James Graham, while so far uncommitted, has also made some interesting comments about Brian Paddick, which I feel I must recommend by dint of the fact that one of the titles features an even worse pun than my own piece.

Liberal Democrats For Mayor of London

I thought I’d said it all in my big piece about Mr Paddick yesterday, but, of course, things have already moved on. I realise it’s unusual for me to jump into supporting a candidate I don’t know, particularly after I had such difficulty deciding between the three Lib Dem Leadership candidates last year, and even more particularly before I’d seen who his competition were to be. It’s possible that last year, because I knew quite a lot about all the candidates, I found it harder to see the big picture.

This time, I’m in the slightly contradictory position of being excited by all three candidates and wanting to know more about each of them, but having already decided to be committed to one. Each of the three have something distinctive about them that might help them get noticed, and each suggests a more diverse party than either of the other parties are offering – a gay man, an Asian man and an Asian woman. I vaguely know Fiyaz Mughal from the FPC and having seen him speak on occasion, and he comes across very well; if selected, he’ll be a good candidate and I’ll do my best for him. I don’t know Chamali Fernando at all, but we desperately need brilliant young candidates and to have been shortlisted she must be fantastic; if selected, she’ll be the Liberal Democrat Youth and Students’ finest hour, and I’ll do my best for her. But neither have the instant recognition and ability to be treated from the start as a ‘serious’ candidate that Brian Paddick does, so I’ve leapt in with both feet and hope to be meeting Mr Paddick in a few days’ time. If I get the chance to interrogate him for this blog, in a ‘critical friend’ way, I’ll post what he has to say here; if you come up with any brilliant questions to ask, as I’m not exactly an experienced interviewer, please e-mail them to me (address in the sidebar)!

Mr Paddick has, of course, already answered some questions posed by Anders Hanson, as I mentioned above; I thought Anders’ first was a very good question which needed answering, incidentally, while the second’s already been thoroughly dismissed by the police, CPS and libel court victory against the Hate Mail on Sunday, so I wasn’t fussed (besides, for a party to investigate someone more thoroughly than the police, CPS and newspapers, we’d have to run private Gestapos, and that would be both mad and wrong. And, for the Lib Dems at least, completely against our values). I was also taken to task by ‘Free School Milk’ for some of my flights of rhetoric the other day, and again, she or he is right and I was wrong. When I talked about the desirability of a candidate who’s “actually done something” – well, if I wasn’t blogging like a speech, I’d have said something more factual like “actually run a major public service for Londoners,” so I didn’t mean to do down candidates I, at the time, didn’t know about! And regular readers will know I’m not in favour of the alleged ‘sweeping clean honest non-politico approach’ either; I’m deeply suspicious of independents because I don’t know what they stand for, and as most politics is making it up as you go along, having a sense of what someone stands for is the only thing that gives you real warning of what they’d be like if they got in. Mr Paddick is different because – when he was a senior police officer and doing an important job – he gave a considerably stronger account of his values than I’ve heard from most Lib Dem MPs.

In case you’re a London Liberal Democrat who’s not just had an e-mail from the Returning Officer, the hustings at Conference is to be next Wednesday (the 19th) at 1pm in the Old Courtroom in Church Street (I wonder if that’s the one once squatted by a bunch of hippies against the Criminal Justice Act while our 1994 Conference was debating cannabis? Nice bunch. Nice brownies). There will also be a hustings for the prospective Mayoral and European Parliamentary candidates on Saturday 6th October at 1.30pm at Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, Bethnal Green, E2 6HG, as well as an online hustings that’s already running. Ballot papers should be with us all by the 22nd of October, and we should have a result in the second week of November…

Illiberals and Democrats for President of the United States

Meanwhile, Jonathan Calder pointed us all to the Candidate Calculator. This tests your position on a number of issues against different Presidential runners – and, like Jonathan, my top match was with Democrat former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, at 93.10%. Not too far behind was Democratic firebrand Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, while the highest-placed ‘leading’ candidate for me on the issues was down at 62.07% - another Democrat, New York Senator Hillary Clinton. John Edwards came in at 58.62% (free trade counting for about 41%, then?), and Barack Obama only 55.17%, while I was unsurprised that my leading Republican match was libertarian Texas Representative Ron Paul, on 48.28%. I was even less surprised that he was more than 20% ahead of my next highest ‘match’ from the Labour Party’s best buddies! Special prizes to former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson (‘Senator, I knew Ronald Reagan… Senator, you’re not even a Ronald Reagan’) at 10.34% and, probably safely off my postal ballot, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee crawling in at just 6.90%. Not quite within the margin of error of agreeing with me on nothing at all, but pretty close.

The intimidatingly prolific (well, he would be intimidating if he wasn’t so nice) Paul Walter has another piece well worth reading on American politics over at Liberal Burblings, dealing with the not-the-Warner-Bros. He’s written a piece about Jim ‘Pity Me’ Davidson, too, but I’ve gone into that in sufficient length that my response has become a post of its own!

And finally, Paul has allowed a special correspondent to write about the Annual Horticultural Show, which bears some suspicious resemblances to the Lib Dem Blog of the Year Awards. The piece is typically enthusiastic, other-flattering and self-deprecating, though with a considerably higher innuendo count than, well, just about anything on a Lib Dem Blog since my speech at last year’s Lib Dem Blog of the Year Awards. As he said on that occasion, “Ooh missus!”

I would complete a set of links to the Blog of the Year 2007 finalists, but Millennium doesn’t seem to have written anything today. Last time I looked, he was too busy spinning round the room being a Toclafane.

Update: this was nearly ready to post yesterday evening, but then we spent some time installing a new ISP and marvelling over how much of an improvement it was, so I got distracted. Well, I say “we” were installing it, but technically Richard installed it while I sprawled on the sofa and offered such vital advice as “That looks a bit fiddly,” and “Ooh look! The bisexual one on Hollyoaks has been outed.”

Anyway, for the purposes of most of the above, “yesterday” means ‘Monday’ and “today” was ‘yesterday’. Clear? Since then, Millennium has posted a piece about Sir Mr the Merciless and a carnivorous plant which may or may not be from outer space (I thought the stage musical kind of implied that it was bred by Seymour, who was very cute had a lot of talent, but also that it was to do from the mysterious total eclipse and therefore alien). Even more excitingly, Fiyaz Mughal has said hello on my previous Brian Paddick piece (hello Fiyaz!), which you can all read. He’s started a blog this morning, too. Quick, Mr Mughal, sign up to Lib Dem Blogs Aggregated! I’ve also found Mr Paddick’s website. I suspect both will soon be much busier (and let me know if you spot one for Ms Fernando).

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we’d have to run private Gestapos

Listening to some conspiracy theorists in the party, are you sure we don't already?

More seriously though, I accept that in hindsight my second question was unfair. In mitigation, I suppose I am naturally cautious when I know a potential candidate's personal and work life has been controversial. As a Lib Dem I should know far better than to take heed of anything that the Mail on Sunday has alleged, but I suppose it is a human instinct, albeit not very liberal.

Brian Paddick has described himself as a "high risk/high return candidate". High risk is probably what the Liberal Democrats need in the mayoral election, to make sure we make an impact and stand any chance of winning a campaign that until now looked like a dogfight between Ken and Boris.
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