Monday, January 14, 2008


Go Brian!

Brian Paddick today officially launched his campaign to become Mayor of London. He’s the only candidate who’s really serious about London: Ken is only serious about Ken; Boris has yet to be serious about anything. I live in London, and Brian is just what we need. Surely everyone in his session at the one-day Lib Dem Conference on Saturday came away enthused by his humour, ideas, passion and, er, shortage of chairs.

Despite all that, Neil Woollcott thinks Brian isn’t showing us all enough love. He even asks the mournful question, “Is Brian Paddick ashamed to be a Lib Dem?”

In a word, no.

In fact, I can’t think of any other candidate who’s been more eager to promote our policies in his TV appearances – and he’s also a very definite conviction Liberal. Since he started openly seeking our nomination last year, I’ve never heard a public pronouncement from him where the words “Liberal Democrat” don’t pass his lips.

The question is, though, who is his election campaign aimed at? It could talk just to the vaguely Lib Dem vote in London, and aim to get towards 20% on a good day (or closer to 10% on a bad one). Or it could try and go further. Brian’s definitely the “go further” candidate, and I’d much rather have Ken out of office and Brian as Mayor than make sure the website uses the right colours. More importantly, it leads with a man qualified to do the job, and other pages showcase what Liberal Democrats are doing all round the capital.

I know that in the ’90s politicians trying to separate themselves from their parties got out of hand – usually Tories preferring to appear as independents to a party label slightly less popular in the polls of the time than Ebola Virus – and you can still find plenty of Tory MPs whose websites make it immensely difficult to spot their affiliation. And I’m not a huge fan of presidential politics. But, really, this is a Mayoral contest, where one person is being picked to have practically all the authority over eight million people. If there’s one job in British politics that can’t possibly avoid being presidential… This is it ;-)

Oh, and glancing at the front page of Brian’s new site: no, it doesn’t have the party colours. But it has a brace of Lib Dem MPs pictured on it, five Lib Dem click-buttons at the bottom and a “Join the Lib Dems” right at the top, the statement “Brian Paddick is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London,” oh, yes, and the words “Liberal Democrat” or “Lib Dem” seven times. All on the front page. He doesn’t look like he’s in the closet to me…

And I Can’t Resist… Serious About Peter Vain

It’s a measure of what a laughing stock the tangerine-toned declaration-dodger has become that I can’t tell you with absolute certainty that this is just a gag. Either way, it made me laugh.

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The point is, it is only when you scroll down that it becomes more apparent that Brian is a Lib Dem.

But other than that, I think Brian has made a good start. He just needs to make the press notice him more now. His launch was over shaddowed on BBC London today by an interview with Boris.
We always need to nudge in on the press – though I think Brian did a great job last week in the first televised debate, where he came across as knowing what he was talking about and was the only one who both answered the questions and kept to time.

Ken’s tactic was to blame everything on Mrs Thatcher. Yes, I know; if you didn’t see it, it sounds like I’m making fun of him as an ’80s Not the 9 O’Clock News reject (“The Tories!” “Don’t help him”), but seriously, that was Ken’s entire pitch. If it happened twenty-odd years ago, he said, it’s relevant, while if it happened on his watch it’s all a media plot (I paraphrase, but not by much). Boris, on the other hand, was even less able to answer questions, particularly about London and even more particularly about his record (mentioning our city just once in the House of Commons before deciding to carpet-bag in our direction), and his supporters were such a rowdy, off-putting lot of hooligans they’d probably been bussed in from the House of Commons.

But Neil, really, I know you said “Apart from the link to join the Liberal Democrats the first mention that Brian is anything to do with the Lib Dems is a half way down the website,” but surely people who look in it aren’t going to miss that? Top button, big letters, Bird of Liberty… It’s not exactly stealthy!

And “the point is” that Brian isn’t just talking to people who usually vote Lib Dem. And I’m happy for him to talk to the voters other Lib Dems don’t reach, because I desperately want him to get Ken out and give us a proper Mayor!
I definetely support Brian. as far as I recall he was the antiprohibitionist policeman in Brixton, am I wrong?

anyway, I’ve given a link to your blog as I aim to exchange links with the finest liberal blogs internationally, particularly in the US and the UK, where I had been living for 7 years and was a member of the Lib-Dems, first in Scotland and more recently in London (that's why I recall Brian's brave stance on drugs, if, I repeat, I'm not mistaken with someone else).

My blog is mainly in Italian but you’ll find that one post out of 7 (roughly) is in English as well. Come visit me and link me back if you like. HNY and ciao!
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