London Mayor race: Brian Paddick in final day appeal - “I’m no Tory!”

14:27 02 May 2012

Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor.

Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor.

Archant

Brian Paddick dismissed his low poll ratings and urged Londoners to spring a shock by making him Mayor of London, tomorrow.

The race for City Hall entered it final hours today with all candidates fighting for every last vote.

The Liberal Democrat’s candidate for City Hall told London24.com he best understands what Londoners want.

“Londoners’ number one priority is crime and I am the most experience candidate to deal with that issue,” he said.

A Liberal Democrat Mayor would build 360,000 new homes in the capital city and reform transport, he promised.

“When you look at our commitment on transport and our commitment to build homes over the next 10 years, I am the only candidate who’s got a serious plan to transform London for the future.”

But one problem for Mr Paddick has been persuading voters he can defeat the leading pair; Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone.

Many Lib Dem policies go down well, but why mark ‘X’ on the ballot sheet when two big beasts rule the airwaves?

One poll this week put Brian Paddick on only six per cent.

That is down on last time, when he secured 9.5 per cent of the vote in 2008.

Mr Paddick was defiant, disputing how accurate a single poll can be.

“The polls are all over the place,” he said.

“One poll showed me on 5 per cent, one last Friday showed me on 10 per cent. Most have me on double the percentage of the Greens, but then a poll today showed me one point behind the Greens.

“So that just shows how unreliable polls are, with small sample sizes,”

Maybe the old adage that polls were invented to make astrology seem credible could help Paddick press ahead today.

It is being spent in Islington, Richmond and Brixton; trying to convince voters to focus on his message.

So has the Liberal Democrats’ campaign for London been dragged down by colleagues in coalition government?

Mr Paddick moved to put clear water between his own bid for office and his colleagues in the Westminster bubble.

He insisted; ‘I’ve no Tory taint.’

“This is not a referendum on national politics, it’s about the future of London over the coming years,” he said.

“All we’ve been telling Londoners is look at what the Liberal Democrat manifesto is for London. It sets out a positive vision for the next four to ten years. Vote on that.

“The reason why I went into this race was to present a distinct agenda for London and that’s what we’ve promised we will deliver if we have Lib Dems in charge at City Hall. It’s nothing at all to do with the Coalition; it is pure Lib Dem - untainted by the Tories.”

But what does that add up to?

As former deputy assistant commissioner in charge of territorial policing at the Met, Paddick’s special subject is crime.

“We’ve got to get Londoners and the police on the same side against the criminal,” he told London24.

“Twenty per cent of Londoners do not believe the police are on their side, so the number one priority is to get the police to convince Londoners that is the case.

“So the only priority I’d set for the (boroughs) police is to knock of on every door in their ward and publish what the top three priorities are in that local area - then measure your activity against those top three priorities.

“Another very important issue is stop and search, which we’ve got to make far more accurate and far less discriminatory. Clearly we’ve got to have a complaints system the public have confidence in. Public confidence in the IPCC and the Met’s own internal investigation processes are at a low ebb.”

If elected, Paddick says he would draw up a new code of ethics for police officers to set and enforce rules; “to ensure that not only accusations of racism but other standards of behaviour and conduct are enforced properly in the Met.”

And he dished the proverbial sort of pummelling by truncheon normally alleged by victims of police brutality to Mayor Johnson’s efforts,

Tackling youth violence was a key plank of Boris Johnson’s manifesto in 2008. But it has proved to be a stubborn problem.

“His mentoring scheme for black youth has resulted in something like 33 young people getting mentors - that’s going to have hardly any impact at all,” blasted Mr Paddick.

“Elsewhere, the unit at Feltham young offenders’ institution that he set up to rehabilitate young people has been a failure - even though the people were hand picked as those likely to benefit from it.

“So across the board, all the Mayor’s initiatives appear to have failed, and he has done nothing at all to reassure Londoners that the police are on their side.”

On tranpsort, the Lib Dems pledge to ease the pressure on hard-pressed Londoners’ wallets.

Mr Paddick said his own scheme will be cheaper to roll out than the 7 per cent cut promised by Ken Livingstone.

The Lib Dems would introduce a new ‘early-bird’ fare - with the aim of helping ease the rush hour crush.

A new bring in a one-hour bus ticket would put cash back in travellers’ pockets, he said.

Cutting Overground rail prices by re-zoning some stations would help workers who commute to and from the city.

“We want Londoners to pay the right fare, not unfair fares. These are all fully costed commitments, they cost between £80 and £90 million a year - meaning they cost about one third of what Ken Livingstone’s proposals are costing.”

Lib Dem ideas for transport have drawn some praise from opposing quarters.

Native Londoner Mr Paddick insists it shows he should be Mayor because he best understands the capital city.

“A few weeks ago, a black guy in front of me in the queue at Tesco turned around,” said Mr Paddick, recounting a helpful encounter.

“And he said ‘you’re Brian Paddick,’ I replied ‘yes.’ Then he said: “You know the difference between you and the others; you get it.”

“And I think increasing Londers increasingly realise I get it in a way the others (rival candidates) do not.

“I go everywhere on public transport, so maybe it’s because I live in the centre of the city. Maybe it’s because I’m the only candidate of the top three not earning a six figure salary, that I really understand the challenges. The more people hear the message, the more people vote for me.”

But there is a psephological chasm for Brian Paddick to close in order to topple Mayor Johnson, on Friday.

Will being in touch be enough to defeat the libertarian performance artist Mayor, who has successfully shielded his campaign from storms at Westminster?

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