Paddick stations?


10:01 am - April 25th 2008

by Simon Barrow    


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The BBC1 Question Time special last night, featuring “the three main London mayoral candidates”, was as depressing a tit-for-tat charade as I’ve seen for some time. The ratio of insult to fact or argument was far, far too high. Maybe I just don’t go to hustings enough these days.

Particularly disappointing was Brian Paddick, God’s new lieutenant. Alternating between ineffectually smug and an unconvincingly macho, he didn’t use his central position on the podium to evince authority or offer anything new. Instead he sounded rather like the school rich kid trying to brag about how clever and decent he is. Embarrassing.

Ken made a direct play for Lib Dem second preferences, claiming he agreed with them on 90 per cent of issues and citing his own past support for Ed Davey. Pluralism or panic? Paddick (revealing that we gravitate to his second name, huh?) then accused him of telling people how to vote and claimed that he and Boris were equally bad.

Um, candidates are inherently in the business of soliciting votes, Brian (if I may). That’s what electoral politics is about. And if you really don’t think London would be any worse off under Boris Johnson than Ken Livingstone, well you shouldn’t be running a shoebox, let alone a metropolis. That said, your fragile 9 per cent could be vital.

Even Lib Dem Voice lacks much confidence in the life of Brian. Hammersmith & Fulham Lib Dem Youth & Students’ chair Leo Watkins commented last night: “[H]e talks in terms of vague generalities, and only really marks himself out when he starts poking fun at the other two.”

“The thing that strikes me most,” Watkins went on “…is that Ken Livingstone has an incredible mastery of the facts, of quotes of his opponents, of past events and so on. Additionally, he looks relaxed, confident and spontaneous.”

As for Boris Johnson, well it’s hardly any news that he is a complete buffoon, but his performance was shockingly bad. Tory or not, how anyone can consider backing him (other than as a childish prank or a cipher for the return of county squire politics) is astonishing. The final questioner of the evening noted that he couldn’t even figure out how to answer a question without getting into a mental scramble. But he fluffed that one, too.

I don’t have a vote in the mayoral race, as my residency in London is occasional and temporary. But I sure hope the tactical psephologists can work their magic.

Sunny adds: Checkout Votematch London if you haven’t already!

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About the author
Simon Barrow is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is co-director of Ekklesia, a think tank looking at issues of religion in society from a radical Christian perspective. He is a writer, theologian, consultant and commentator and also blogs at FaithInSociety
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Libdems ,Mayor election ,Realpolitik

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Reader comments


There are plenty of reasons for thinking that Boris isn’t fit for the job of Mayor, but there are also plenty of things Ken has done and said in his 8 years in charge that suggest that nor is he.

Quite true, but there are no positive reasons for Boris to get the job, while Ken’s record has plenty. It’s quite the oddest election campaign I’ve ever seen, since it seems to be run solely in order for a newspaper editor to revenge herself on an elected politician who pissed her off, without any thought that there’s actually a large city to be run at the end of it.

there are also plenty of things Ken has done and said in his 8 years in charge that suggest that nor is he

Aside from mild corruption (and really, so what? Would you have voted for Nixon over Kennedy on the basis that JFK was a bit of a crook?), what are those then? The only controversial statements Ken has made have:

a) been absolute comedy gold; and
b) annoyed exactly the right people – i.e. Tories, Decentists, and humourless blusterers

a) Really? Welcoming a homophobic, fundamentalist cleric to London is comedy gold? Comparing a journalist to a concentration camp guard is comedy gold?

b) … and libertarians like myself

“Comparing a journalist to a concentration camp guard is comedy gold?”

Yes. If, like me, you think the British tabloids have too much power and that politicians are far too craven to them, to see the complete opposite happen produced one of the finest bellylaughs I’ve had in years.

“b) … and libertarians like myself”

Face it, it’s not particularly hard to annoy libertarians, is it?

I don’t get why the point about al-Qaradawi comes up so often. For god’s sake there is absolutely no way in hell Qaradawi’s pronouncements have any chance of being enacted here. Livingstone isn’t inviting him here for his views on gays or Jews, but on how we can be used to counterbalance al-Qaeda’s influence.

Are we concerned about homophobic legislation or are we concerned about what a mayor can do to help the LGBT community in London live as well as anyone else? Because if its the latter then Ken Livingstone has done far more for gay rights than Boris Johnson has. The Outrage hustings clearly illustrated that.

Are we concerned about homophobic legislation or are we concerned about what a mayor can do to help the LGBT community in London live as well as anyone else?

If you’re a libertoonian banging on about Qaradawi, you care about neither: you’re merely looking to make a juvenile political point that helps the right-wing candidate win.

[also, I think libertarians fall somewhere in between the “Tories” and “humourless blusterers” camp in my existing taxonomy…]

@Sunny – Because similar pathetic points come up about Boris Johnson in every damn CiF thread about him and on here all the time as well. It’s called fighting fire with fire, I guess. Plus to many people it betrays a more serious lack of principle than a few flippant epithets in Telegraph columns do. Livingstone has shown that he’ll say and do just about anything to pick up a few extra votes from one lobby or another.

@john b if you want to convince me that you’re on the side of right in this matter, throwing around stupid insults isn’t the best way to go about it.

@QuestionThat – John B has a good line in clever insults, too, if we want to try that. Still, it’s nice to know that you consider your own points pathetic. I do too, I think we should be focusing on policies, management and competence. On which note, did anyone see that Policy Exchange are apparently putting Boris Johnson’s team together. That’ll be inclusive and progressive then, won’t it?

Because similar pathetic points come up about Boris Johnson in every damn CiF thread about him and on here all the time as well.

Erm, the difference being that there Boris was the one insulting others. The only thing anyone-but-Ken people can do is point towards who Ken is associating with, rather than look at what he’s actually said.

Hell, we haven’t even said anything about Boris Johnson’s slavish love for George Bush! That alone is an example of the height of stupidity.

He used some phrases in some articles, in a capacity as an irreverent columnist, intended to be “politically incorrect” and maybe get a rise out of people.

Erm, he was editor of the Spectator. Spot the difference:

My biggest problem with Ken is the money that was allowed to go all over the place, his uncompromising support for Lee Jasper (a man steeped in cronyism) and calling anyone who challenged Jasper a racist. Martin Bright’s article in the New Statesman was attack on Ken I could most agree. The Qaradawi stuff is largely irrelevant.

“Hell, we haven’t even said anything about Boris Johnson’s slavish love for George Bush! That alone is an example of the height of stupidity.”

Actually, to come to Boris’ side for probably the first time ever, I do remember a piece on his blog a while back where he apparently realised for the first time that recent US actions might not be completely wonderful.

[rummage]

http://www.boris-johnson.com/2007/03/01/no-to-war-on-iran/

Ignoring (for now) the bits about where he wishes Israel could just knock out Iran’s nuclear facilities (although that’s rather alarming), he does have some fairly harsh words for Bush, Cheney and the neocons and is on record as saying he made a mistake in supporting the war. Well, that’s one more u-turn to add to the list, but better late than never, I don’t object to politicians changing their mind for the better, as long as they actually follow through.

“What is the real reason for American rage with Teheran, apart from the nuclear programme? It is the knowledge that the Iranians have made them look like complete idiots, like orang-utans playing chess against a grandmaster.”

Not much to argue with there, really, his analysis of Iraqi politics is more in line with Juan Cole rather than Dick Cheney. Given that, I don’t think you can say he’s a slavish devotee of Bush and co, although he certainly hangs around with people who are. Actually, It’s one of my major problems with him, his choice of friends, particularly when we don’t have a clue who he’ll get in to run London (not to mention that he seems not to be fully in charge of his own campaign). I really hope we don’t look back on Lee Jasper and think ‘well, he might have been an unpleasant crony-loving stuck in the past bastard, but at least he’s not a swivel eyed neo-Thatcherite public service thrashing ideologue like all the people steering HMS Boris around by the ears’.

15. Guy Aitchison

Bang on. Paddick has been a major disappointment. He came across as smug, petty and far too vague in his answers. I’m not sure why he’s standing for the Liberals at all. It didn’t surprise me when Dimbelby said Paddick had considered standing for the Tories – which he didn’t really deny, saying he was “flattered”. Boris was hopeless as ever and has clearly flip-flopped on the amnesty for illegal immigrants issue. I’m hoping Ken can just about pip it after these performances.

16. clarelondon

It is unconvincing to go and on about Livingstone’s nazi comment. He was making an apt point. He was being harrassed and bullied in his own time off by a sneering journalist. His comment turned the situation around. He was using a stark analogy to try to get through to the journalist what it felt like to be confronted by a bully.

I watched the Question Time special and I too thought that Ken hardly bothered to ‘sell’ himself – BUT – was (a) very convincing anyhow, as he was indeed relaxed and transmitted a genuine confidence. I find the man modest,. I find him an immensely convincing, hard-working and honourable politician.

As for this endless sneering about his ‘welcoming’ of some of the world’s nasties – this perplexes and grieves me. Look at the world. The wars, the famine, the greed, the disruption of society, the drugs, the alcolicism, the social and family breakdown, the appalling disparity between rich and poor, the terrifying destruction of the planet. Is the world being run in a good, progressive, healthy fashion? No.

How can anyone protest at the notion of engagement and dialogue with EVERYBODY who has influence on this planet? How on earth can it be right to point the finger and say, you’re such and such, therefore you can’t come to London and we will ostracise you?

Why is it only in politics, the most influence sphere of life on this planet, that only bombs, sanctions and ostracism is supposed to be used against our ‘enemies’?

Every country has governments and poltiicians who are ‘enemies’ of some other country. This is futile. Livingstone is more right than any politician who has ever lived or ever will live to continue to engage with everybody, to try to influence them, to try to effect better compromises with everybody, tyrants and dictators among them.

How on earth else will anything ever be achieved?

Remember the Bettelheim concept of ‘the good enough parent’?

Tyrants and dictators are appalling in the woes they bring on their own peoples and the impact of their horribleness on the rest of the world. But adopting the position of ‘let’s at least talk, a position of ‘let’s try to achieve a ‘good-enough tyrant’ as opposed to an ‘altogether terrible’ tyrant who we must turn our backs on – LIvingstone is arguably one of the most sane and intelligent influencers on the global stage.

I dread Livingstone not getting into office. London needs him, the political stage needs him and, most urgently of all, the planet needs him.

17. clarelondon

(Sorry – left out (b))

And – (b) – was continually interrupted by both Paddick and the impossibly loud, blustering, hectoring Johnson. It was a stupid ‘debate’ which Dimbledy ought to have been able to control better. Each candidate ought to have been allotted more or less the same amount of time.

(c) – Livingstone’s record is a fine one. I don’t know about the supposed ‘corruption’. What does this mean exactly? The word is bandied about as if fact. I repeat: Livingstone is honourable, immensely hard-working, principled and decent. Like another poster above, I trust him absolutely.

Livingstone is honourable, immensely hard-working, principled and decent.

Um -say again?

Livingstone’s record is a fine one. I don’t know about the supposed ‘corruption’. What does this mean exactly?

Using public money for private causes.

Just found that i’d been quoted thanks to narcissistic self-googling. A note – i’m not exactly the H&F chair of LDYS, as the whole thing’s been reorganised and it’s called Liberal Youth.

Just like to point out that my criticizing a Lib Dem candidate is hardly a major internal party ruction or anything, as i was calling for Ming to go about a year before he did and besides i’ve no importance in the party whatsoever.

But it is worth saying that of the people i know who met one of the other possible Lib Dem candidates – Chamali Fernando – all were much more impressed with her than with Paddick.


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  1. Stop Boris blog » Blog Archive » Irrelevant question time

    […] Liberal Conspiracy have another take on the show: The BBC1 Question Time special last night, featuring “the three main London mayoral candidates”, was as depressing a tit-for-tat charade as I’ve seen for some time. The ratio of insult to fact or argument was far, far too high. […]





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