London Mayor race: Siobhan Benita asks ‘take a chance on me’

17:34 02 May 2012

Siobhan Benita

Siobhan Benita


The sole independent candidate in the race to be London Mayor insists she is the fresh voice which London needs.

Siobhan Benita slammed this year’s crop of City Hall hopefuls as more of the ‘same-old same-old.’

The race to sit in the City Hall hotseat is entering its final hours.

When the polls finally open tomorrow, former civil servant Siobhan Benita wants Londoners to take a step into the unknown by marking an ‘X’ next to her name.

The 40-year-old former top civil servant has struggled to make an impact in the polls.

But there have been small victories: like overhauling Liberal Democrat rival Brian Paddick in the some of the betting.

“Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone try and play the maverick,” she told London24.

“But if you stand back a bit you see Ken is the epitome of old Labour, you can’t get more old Lab than Ken. Meanwhile, Boris is a classic Tory.”

“So it’s funny they’ve managed to get this image for being mavericks – as they’re not. They’re funded by a huge degree by their parties and they will toe a party line.

“In the London Assembly, the parties bring old arguments from history which gets in the way of things getting done.”

But how radical a choice does Mrs Benita represent to voters wishing to upset the established order?

A high-flying civil servant, she worked at the Treasury for the man dubbed ‘GoD’ by mandarins at Whitehall – Sir Gus O’Donnell.

As well dodging flying stationary during Gordon Brown’s reign, she also waved Tony Blair off from Number 10 when he quit Downing Street in 2007.

Such a glittering civil service record does not easily fit the profile of a radical, poised to storm the barricades of Power in the People’s name.

Meanwhile, a political philosophy which is broadly left of centre places her comfortably on the centre ground.

But working at the heart of government will come in handy when navigating City Hall, she insisted.

She is banking on that trade-craft making up for her lack of experience in the political bear pit, if she pulled off a miracle.

“I’ve worked at there heart of government and I’ve done cut and thrust,” Mrs Benita told London24 at the South Bank Centre.

“But you’ve got to ask yourself if you always want the same kind of person in this job; then you will always end up with what you’ve got.

“I’m saying what we’ve got is not good enough.

“From my time in my previous job I know how much negotiation goes on and the public do not see the reality – which is a shame.

“People are voting for a fresh modern leader, a more inclusive collabtive figure.

“I think the mayor role is a hoslitic one to get everything working in the best interests of London. There are so many people in London who are trapped, for whom there is no social mobility.”

Manifesto promises include creating 70,000 more primary school places to help nurse a culture which staves off the causes of future possible riots.

Free travel for job-seekers and an expanded apprentice scheme to help youngsters, also figure.

Taking a stronger hand in London’s schools is part of the plan – similar to an aspiration voiced by Mayor Boris Johnson.

Throughout the election campaign, Mrs Benita has complained of being dogged by rules governing how much TV air-time candidates get.

“It’s not right for democracy that new voices do not get heard. I’m quite happy for people to hear me and not like me, but it’s not right that voters don’t get to hear me at all.”

Her team even renamed the BBC the ‘Ban Benita Campaign’ – leading some pundits to quip they were hearing an awful lot from a candidate gagged by a media plot.

So can Siobhan Benita reach out voters outside of the cosmopolitan elite and make an impact at the polls?

Don’t bet against it, the bookies have said.

They slashed odds on a victory for her recently, pushing out Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick.

“I think I’m the best candidate for the job,” Mrs Benita said.

“There’s a lack of new ideas and people more than ever are disengaged from party politics.

“My platform is to remind people that for the London mayor election you don’t need all that.”

How many poor bookies do you know?

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
2 3 4 5 6

Latest London politics news

Monday, November 30, 2015
The National Health Singers in action outside St Paul's Cathedral on Saturday (Picture: Dr Georgina Wood)

Ahead of the junior doctor strike on December 1, a choir of talented medics stood in Tube stations and outside London landmarks ‘singing for survival’ with their new song to the NHS, ‘Yours’.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015
(Image: Stop the War Coalition)

As MPs prepare for tomorrow’s vote on air strikes in Syria, the Stop the War Coalition has called for a rally in Parliament Square tonight against British military involvement in the wartorn region.

Friday, November 27, 2015
Thousands will march for ambitious action on the climate crisis by governments internationally (Picture: PeoplesMarch)

The People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs will pass through central London on Sunday November 29 with more than 7,000 people from all around the UK. Here is a guide to the march - why it’s happening, where to go and what will be going on.

Friday, November 27, 2015
The Chief Inspector of Hospitals has recommended the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust is placed into special measures (Picture: PA Images)

Health watchdog CQC has said the London Ambulance Service (LAS) NHS Trust should be placed into special measures as it is ‘performing poorly’ and has been rated ‘inadequate’.

Thursday, November 26, 2015
Plane Stupid protesters blocked the tunnel leading into Heathrow Airport (Picture: Plane Stupid)

Plane Stupid climate change activists have blocked the inbound tunnel to Heathrow in a protest against airport expansion.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Aerial view of proposed Rotherhithe Bridge [image: reForm Architects]

Plans to build a new bridge across the Thames between Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe on either side have reached completion in a new feasibility study.

The proposed ‘Rotherhithe Bridge’ would have the longest bascule span in the world, at 600ft (184m), for use by pedestrians and cyclists.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...


Nike Trainers

Nike’s motto is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.’ With this in mind it’s no surprise why Nike is the preferred training gear for most A-list athletes. Get an extra boost in your run or height in your jump with £500 to spend on Nike trainers.

Read more
MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!

Read more

Latest Tech News