Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Brian Paddick’

London Mayoral Replay

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 2nd September, 2011

With the selection this evening of Brian Paddick as Liberal Democrat candidate for next year’s London Mayoral elections the capital will be seeing a first: a replay of the 2008 match with the same three main party candidates, but under very different circumstances. Back then, Boris Johnson was the new Tory kid on the block, full of zany charm and quixotic ideas, whereas this time he has to try to defend what he has done — or not done — during his term of office. As LibDem members of the London Assembly –Dee Doocey, Caroline Pidgeon and Mike Tuffrey — have pointed out, as they have called the Mayor to account, he has not actually achieved all that much. Even the Barclays-branded bikes which he managed to have dubbed ‘Boris Bikes’ were actually a proposal put forward by former LibDem Assembly member (and now Coalition government Minister) Lynne Featherstone. As for Ken Livingstone, he is not so much yesterday’s man as the day-before-yesterday’s man. He looks tired and has said some pretty wacky things lately, apart from pissing off some of his own party members by supporting a controversial independent candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets last year against his own party. But the interesting transformation that will make 2012 a much more fascinating contest than 2008 is in Brian Paddick. Back then, as he himself says, he was an ex-policeman with very little experience in frontline politics and he had a steep learning curve to climb during the campaign. Three years on, he is a tranformed character, more relaxed, broader in his policy interests but also more effective in his media performances. He has come out as a voice of both experience and sanity on a number of issues, most recently the London riots and the News International phone-hacking scandal. Same faces as in 2008, yes. But absolutely not the same contest this time.

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London Mayoral Candidates’s Balls-skill Tested

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 31st July, 2011

Brent Liberal Democrats were blessed with fine weather at their annual summer garden party this afternoon, but also with the presence of all four potential London Mayoral candidates, who were strutting their stuff, as they have been doing valiantly around the region for the past couple of weeks. There was an unusual twist to this informal hustings, as they first had to compete in a game of bowls on hostess Freda Reingold’s lawn; this will of course have no effect on the outcome of the selection, but was a nice, light-hearted novelty. Brian Haley stormed to victory, with a throw that was almost up to the little black ball. But who among the four — the others being Lembit Opik, Brian Paddick and Mike Tuffrey– will win the members’ vote is anybody’s guess. Ballot papers (which have been sent to all London party members of sufficient vintage) have to be returned to the Electoral Reform Services by 31 August and the result should be known on 2 September.


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The London Mayoral Merry-go-round

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 24th July, 2011

Voting has now started in the Liberal Democrats’ selection of a Mayoral candidate to fight next May’s London elections. Ballot papers have gone out to all London party members of more than one year’s standing and they have until 31 August to return them to Electoral Reform Services. There are four candidates in the field: Brian Haley, Lembit Opik, Brian Paddick and Mike Tuffrey — four very diferent characters with diverse experience. There will be one official hustings, which I will be chairing, on 27 July at 7pm at Hamilton House in Camden. But with the contest occurring during summer, there is a whole range of local party events for the four men to parade their policies and meet with the selectorate. On Friday Julie Horton and Phil Middleton of Islington LibDems hosted a particularly well-attended garden party at their home in Highbury Hill, with all four candidates present — and I suspect I will be running across most of them again this afternoon at the Croydon Libdems’ annual garden party near Sanderstead. I trust that all will also put in time at the St Peter’s ward local by-election in Islington — a seat held by LibDems until 2006.


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Britain’s Gutter Press and Sex

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 19th June, 2010

The British media’s obsession with politicians’ private lives has always left our continental neighbours scratching their heads in disbelief. Why should the state of someone’s marriage or the relationship that X is conducting with Y be of any legitimate interest to anyone other than those immediately concerned? The claim by newspaper editors who ought to know better is that exposés of politicians’ sex lives ‘is in the public interest’. Rubbish. It is no more in the public interest than would be an exposé of the sex lives of the journalists themselves. Yet once again, courtesy of the People and the News of the World, another Britsh politician, Chris Huhne, (LibDem) Climate Secretary, has had his private life splashed all over tomorrow’s front pages, to the likely distress not only of him, his wife Vicky, his alleged mistress, Carina Trimingham, but also Chris and Vicky’s children. I have known Chris for 30 years, Vicky and the family for about a decade and Carina since she helped out with Brian Paddick’s London mayoral campaign in 2008. These are all human beings, flesh and blood and with emotions, not fictional characters in some TV soap. And as such, their private lives should remain exactly that: private. They will have enough problems dealing with their current situation without the added pressure of media scrutiny and hypocritical criticism. Media exposés of the private lives of politicians are the modern-day equivalent of the Roman ‘sport’ of throwing Christians to the lions and are just as distasteful.

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Oona King Enlivens Mayoral Race

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 24th May, 2010

The contest to become next Mayor of London has suddenly become a lot more interesting with Oona King’s announcement that she intends to run for the Labour nomination. The former MP for Bethnal Green & Bow — famously ousted by George Galloway at the 2005 General Election — has obviously decided that she misses frontline politics after all, having previously seemed to rather enjoy being out of it. She’s developed something of a media presence over the past five years and generally seems far more comfortable in her political skin than she did while she was an MP. It’s about time there was a BME candidate for the London Mayoralty (two of the three LibDem contenders for the nomination in 2008 were Asian, but ex-policeman Brian Paddick won it easily). Of course, there is one big obstacle to Oona King’s getting the Labour nomination an the chance to fight against the Tory incumbent Boris Johnson: Ken Livingstone, who has made it abundantly clear that he wants to get back in charge at City Hall. Ken does have a vociferous fan-base, even if many within the Labour Party think he’s last year’s goods. Others may, of course, throw their hats in the ring imminently. The actual nomination election will run parallel to the election of the new Labour Party leader, so there’ll be a result in the autumn.

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Brian Paddick Back on the Lewisham Beat

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 19th October, 2009

Brian Paddick 1Only one in a hundred reported crimes in London actually gets solved, which means that those criminals who do get caught feel very hard done by. That was the gruesome message delivered by former senior Metropolitan police officer (and LibDem London Mayoral candidate) Brian Paddick at the Blackheath Supper Club this evening. He was very much on home territory, having been Chief Inspector in Lewisham for a while (though his name is usually more intimately associated with Lambeth). The solution to this lamentable record in getting more convictions, he said, was in building a new kind of trust between police and community, so that people in areas where the criminals are well known would actually feel confident enough in the police to share the necessary information. Interestingly, when he toured a problem estate with some black youths not so long ago and asked them what they thought the police should be doing, they replied, ‘More stop-and-search!’ But what they meant, of course, was stopping and searching armed thugs whose identity is well known within local communities, rather than the current practice of blanket stop-and-search based largely on ethnic profiling. Neither the Conservatives nor Labour seem to have found the answer to London’s policing dilemma. The question now is whether the LibDems, benefiting from Brian’s advice, can offer a viable alternative.

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Interrogating Brian Paddick in Neasden

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 1st March, 2009

brian-paddick-3   Having survived the Australian jungle (and Robert Kilroy-Silk) on ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’, former top London policeman and last year’s LibDem Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick had it easy-peasy at St Mary’s Church Hall in Neasden last night, when I compered a Question and Answer session with him for Brent Liberal Democrats. The local party had tastefully arranged the set with a variety of stuffed animals, from lions to snakes, and Brian himself got into the mood of things by sportiung a lurid tie encrusted with sparkly bugs. I launched things by asking him to roam pretty freely through the three jungles of policing, politics and reality TV and elicited the confession that his worst moment was being dropped out of an aeroplane in freefall for a minute, before being allowed to open his parachute. Interestingly, most of the questions from the audience related to stop-and-search and other aspects of policing. But of course, he was asked what political role he envisages for himself in the future, including a possible second stab at the London Mayoralty, to which his answers can best be summarised as ‘We’ll see!’.


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Nick Clegg’s Pole-dancing

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 17th November, 2008

The Liberal Democrat Friends of Poland had an enjoyable launch tonight at London’s City Hall, at which the star attraction was party leader, Nick Clegg, who got things off with a swing. The whole event was recorded by Polish TV and radio, as well as various representatives of Polish community organisations. LibDem Euro-candidates were out in force. Nick brushed aside an opening question from a London-based Polish language radio station about how long he thought Brian Paddick might survive on ‘I’m a Celebrity — Get Me out of Here!’ He had far more important things to talk about, including the tragedy that is the downgrading of foreign language-teaching in this country. Nick operates well before intimate audiences, where he can enter into a robust dialogue with questioners, agreeing eloquently when he does, but standing by his principles and beliefs when he doesn’t. As he said, he was himself ‘concocted’ from Dutch, Russian and other variegated stock (not to mention his Spanish wife), which probably only a welcoming environment such as Britain could have permitted. A little of an Obama touch there?

The event was chaired by the Mayor of Islington, Stefan Kasprzyk, an Islingtonian of Polish stock. Inevitably questions were asked about how other Poles (of whom there might be up to one million in this country) can be encouraged to enter into the political process. This is all the more relevant given the high level of immigration since Poland joined the EU in 2004, even though tens of thousands of them have since returned home. It took the ubiquitous Simon Hughes, now cruising gracefully through the last few weeks of his party presidency, to remind everyone that the first British politician with Polish connections was Constance Markievicz (née Gore-Booth) — ‘The People’s Countess’ — who was elected on a Sinn Fein ticket in Dublin in 1918, while being held in prison for her nationalist activities, though she never took her seat as she refused to take the oath of alleigance to the King.

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Ming with Zing

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 19th July, 2008

Former party leader Menzies Campbell was in fine fettle at the Sutton Liberal Democrats’ annual garden party at Jayanta Chaterjee’s home this afternoon. Ming spilled few beans about the Henley away-day Nick Clegg convened yesterday, but instead urged us all to give loving support for the wives, partners and families of MPs — a point doubtless appreciated by his two local colleagues, Tom Brake and Paul Burstow, who were standing at his side. It is true that politics is a demanding business that puts terrible strains on relationships. Few voters have any idea how much domestic tranquility politicians often sacrifice for their benefit.

Former mayoral candidate Brian Paddick, also in the full flush of health, told a story whose point I didn’t quite grasp, about Puff the Magic Dragon. Something to do with Ken Livingstone, I think. Anyway, as Brian pulled my ticket out from the raffle, netting me a fine bottle of Rioja, who am I to complain?


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Brian Paddick in the Line of Fire

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 12th May, 2008

Now the London elections are safely out of the way, I’ve at last had time to read Brian Paddick’s autobiography, Line of Fire. This was published during the late stages of the London Mayoral campaign, I suspect more with an eye to boosting sales than to boosting his electoral chances. Disappointingly for politicos, there is almost no political content to the book (although Brian did a PPE degree at Queen’s College, Oxford, on sabbatical from the Met). Apart from a passing reference to the late Harriet Smith, the Liberal Democrats don’t get a look-in until right at the end of he book — and then only cursorily, with no real explanation as to why he decided to run in a race which nobody seriously thought he could win.

His account of life inside the Metropolitan Police does contain revealing material, though the gist of his falling out with Sir Ian Blair over the Jean Charles de Menezes affair was already widely known. ‘Britain’s most controversial policeman’ has also outed himself sexually repeatedly, so there are few surprises about his private life, other than the rather touching portrait of his (now divorced wife) Mary as a real brick. Given his lifestyle, however, it did come as something of a revelation to learn of Brian’s Masonic and Baptist affiliations.

In his book, he gets as excited as any teenager when finding himself surrounded (thanks to David Funish) by Elton John, George Michael, Lulu, Sharon Osbourne et al. In fact, there is something Peter-Panish about him, despite his intelligence and the important policing roles he had over 20 years. I can’t think of many other men who have just turned 50 who list their hobbies as ‘the gym’ and ‘clubbing’. There’s a well-known saying that ‘Life Begins at Forty’, but maybe in Brian’s case, it will be ‘Life Begins at Fifty’: a political campaign under his belt, a civil partnership on the way, and maybe even a media career. Having successfully sued the Mail newspapers in the past, he’s now getting money out of them by writing for them instead — with a piece in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday that was infinitely more revealing and amusing than his (partly ghost-written) book, I have to say.


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