The democratic case for Brian

My piece for Our Kingdom making the democratic case for Brian can be found here. It looks like Boris is not the only Tory that can't count, 'cos I swear I was asked to do a piece 300 words long!!

Oyster Cards and Southern Rail Cynicism

One of my biggest transport bug bears over the last few years has been the inability to use Oyster Card on over ground rail in South East London (you know, the bit where there’s no tube). This means that unless you have a weekly or monthly travel card season ticket you cannot use your Oyster Card to pay for your travel from say, Sydenham to London Bridge. This is a pain in the neck for people like me (as we have to remember to buy our travelcard at London Bridge tube) but devastatingly expensive for infrequent train travellers who don’t but season tickets (you know those less likely to be in the receipt of a nice City of London salary). They have to either pay an extra £2 or £3 for the journey or go out of their way to go and get a daily paper travelcard in addition to any money they may have on their Oyster Pay as You Go. To say Ken and TFL have been dragging their heels on making the over ground rail companies to sign up to oyster card is to be kind!

So finally, we are getting Oyster Card at Sydenham and with it Oyster Card barriers. I’m really pleased about the Oyster Card and frankly I can’t complain too much about the barriers, or so I thought.

But…but, go on there had to be a catch, didn’t there? Well, this is it:

For some time now the gate on Platform One at Sydenham train station has been open allowing those travelling to London to go direct to the platform without having to make a detour into station approach, walk halfway down Platform Two, up over the bridge, down again and onto Platform One. My guess had been when they had opened it that they had to comply with DDA legislation. Without this gate open there is no way for those who rely on wheelchairs to get around, to get onto the platform – so they just can’t go to London!!! Never mind the bind for those with pushchairs and luggage. It was a very simple, cost effective solution! Great common sense!!

But now, because of the barriers they are going to lock the gate again!! Can you believe it? Because of course, it would need a second barrier wouldn’t it? And no, it looks like we don’t deserve access and Oyster Cards! The Sydenham Society has proposed an alternative, the provision of a reader so that Sydenham residents can “touch in”. Southern Rail doesn’t think we can be trusted.

So there. So, I’ll just ignore the fact that this morning when I got to London Bridge that they had all the barriers open so people could walk through because there’s too many people trying to get off the platform and out of the station; like they do almost every morning. Because they’re not making much money out of us already for a pretty damn shoddy service, are they?

I’ve signed the Sydenham Society petition already; please join me!

Last year they were threatening to reduce the number of services into London Bridge when the East London Line came in because we could all go to Shoreditch instead (!!!??!) and the Sydenham Society ran a big campaign and got them to change their minds, so they do know what they’re doing and if we campaign hard enough we can get something done about this. The Sydenham Society: they’re grrrrreeeeaaaaat!!!

The Tories rated Brian above Boris as well

Just thought I'd bring this little article to your attention: apparently the Tories would have chosen the excellent Brian Paddick as their Mayoral Candidate as well.

"Mr Paddick, a former senior Metropolitan Police officer, sent David Cameron an email asking if speculation that the Tories wanted him to be their man was true. The Tory leader quickly dispatched Francis Maude, a Shadow Cabinet member, for talks."They promised me the Earth, all the money I could spend and professional back-up," said Mr Pad dick"
Just one little problem he was already a Liberal Democrat! Ha!

This goes to prove that the Tories were desperate when they picked Boris and our now playing a very cynical game of celebrity politics with our £11billion London budget. No, they're very far from being the party that you would trust with you're money.

So, if you want a really good first choice candidate running London then place Brian as your first preference tomorrow.

Don't forget to vote for Lib Dems in the London Assembly election to and keep the BNP out.

Passion in Politics or Why Brian Paddick is the man for me!

Towards the end of last night's Sky programme (the bit that was online) there was a moment when I was able to point out what I liked best about Brian and why I really, really want him to be Mayor.

When Brian starts to talk about how to reduce crime in London and how to work with young people to stop them falling into crime and violent behaviour he really, really comes alive. He knows just what to do and just what the other candidates aren't or have no intention of doing. It is clear just how much passion that he has for London and really get down and dealing with the problems the city has. This passion is real not a performance and it comes from a career in public service, serving Londoners. The passion he has is of a man who wants to be able to really do something, rather than just to be something!

This is something that really resonates with me. I come to active politics relatively late and have spent my career delivering change to all sorts of organisations. It's a career that suits me (I deliver holidays and get togethers using the same skills sets) and I find that I am good at it and can earn a jolly nice living from it, thank you very much. I got into politics because I looked around me and decided that I would be able to use my ability to change and deliver in a far more strategic way and in a far more satisfying way by being an elected representative. It is to do something not be something that turns me on politically. I get very irritated with all those aspects of politics (like PMQs) that having nothing to do with actually improving the way the country is run.

Hence I know exactly where Brian is coming from. Now, some might say that Brian clearly has the experience and passion when it comes to policing but what about the other areas like transport and housing.? For sure, he doesn't have the same content experience but lets not forget how transferable the skills that he gained by becoming No2 in the Met Police. He understands budgets, what needs to be in place for change to be delivered, how to make sure that things are running smoothly and efficiently and he's a skilled organisational politician. But what is most important that he has shown commitment to delivery that Boris can never show! If Boris was so interested doing something (rather than just being something) he wouldn't have left it until he was 43 to start having views on buses as well as LIverpudlians.

And whilst I love a bit of political theory, it's the practical aspects that really float my political boat and that London needs so much. Boris is a great performer and can be very funny but Brian beats him hands down when it comes to acting on his convictions.

And Ken, well, as was clear in last night's debate (and all the others) he's tired, got few ideas and has a lot of dodgy friends. London won't go under with him in charge but it won't go any where exciting either.

Sitting next to Rory Bremner

Ha! Well, that was a surreal experience sandwiched between Rory Bremner and Iain Dale on TV. He's rather funny that Rory Bremner.

I'm just back from the Sky News Unplugged session after having been a 'pundit' at the last Mayoral Hustings. My back is killing from spending hours perched on a bar stool and I have a massive headache but over all it was great fun.

I thought Brian Paddick had his best hustings yet and I was very proud of him. And apparently, my Mum's proud of me.

As I got only four hours sleep last night (dog is poorly) I'm off to bed but will give a more reasoned (and better spelt) review of the whole evening on the train to Leeds tomorow morning!

Should Brian Paddick express his second preference?

There are cries all over the place for Brian Paddick to come out and name his second preference and recommend the way all good thinking Lib Dem voters should vote. In fact, it has been claimed that it our duty and that our London MPs and Brian are failing in that duty if they do not recommend a second preference to us Lib Dem activists, members and voters. After all Sian Berry has done it for Ken and the BNP have come out for Boris.

Ha! Shows how much they know about the Liberal Democrats! The clue is in the name; we are a democratic party we don’t do top down dictates! Blimey, I can just imagine now the barney if one of our MPs came out for Ken or for Boris. It is fair to say that there are those like myself who cannot countenance Boris the Mayor who will therefore hold their nose and vote for Ken. There are those who feel Boris is the more liberal and will go for him (obviously ignoring the fact that his lack of experience will give him precious opportunity to act on any of this perceived liberalism – but frankly that’s their prerogative). And there have been plenty of people who have decided that they cannot bring themselves to vote for either and won’t use their preference; personally I feel that is a bit of a cop out.

For me it is very disappointing that my second preference places me between a rock and a hard place and I am having to go for the least worse rather than a second best; but there you go. But I am not the candidate.

I don’t think Brian should be expressing a second preference precisely because he is the candidate. Apart form the fact (see above) that it wouldn’t work as Liberal Democrats don’t like being told what to do, anti-establishment peeps that we are, it would also blow any hopes that Brian would have of pulling the discussion away from the Ken & Boris show and over to the very sensible things that he and the Lib Dems are saying about what London needs.

Sian Berry made a tactical error when she went into a pact with Ken; she made her and her message an irrelevance. I think the Greens will lose votes not only for the mayoralty but in the London Assembly as well.

This race has been very much one of personalities and being from the third party is a pretty poor place to start. To express a preference would be give up on any chance to make a difference and make the race even more of the two horse race that the media wants it to be.

Last London Mayoral Hustings on Sky TV tonight

This is just a reminder that the last and largest hustings for London Mayor the London Debate Unplugged will be broadcast by Sky News on Monday evening. It will of course include the three front runners: Ken, Boris and our very own Brian Paddick.

amazingly, I have been asked by Sky to take part in their programme along with Iain Dale and Alex Hilton aka Recess Monkey to provide comment and 'insight' into the proceedings. The first part of the programme at 7.30pm will take part both on line and be broadcast on Sky News, then the debate will start and we'll be online during the add breaks to round up what's been going on. Then for an hour after the debate finishes there'll be a big discussion programme, online, where the three 'experts' will be joined by both members of the various campaign teams and the audience.

See you there!!!

London Debate Unplugged on Sky News

The last and largest hustings for London Mayor the London Debate Unplugged will be broadcast by Sky News on Monday evening. It will of course include the three front runners: Ken, Boris and our very own Brian Paddick.

Much more importantly though, I will be taking part in the 'unplugged' part of the programme, as part of a panel of expert bloggers. I will be joined by Iain Dale and Alex Hilton aka Recess Monkey. The first part of the programme at 7.30pm will take part both on line and be broadcast on Sky News, then the debate will start and we'll be online during the add breaks to give our insight. Then for an hour after the debate finishes there'll be a big discussion programme, online, where the three 'experts' will be joined by both members of the various campaign teams and the audience.

I'm off to town this afternoon to buy a new outfit; as I have discovered in the last 24 hours that I have nothing suitable to wear for a trip to Sky News. Honest, it's not an excuse for a shop at all.

Applauding Lynne's use of language...

Well done to Lynne Featherstone in starting off the campaign to remove the system of male primogeniture from our Royal family. Some may think it a rather trivial topic on which to campaign. But, cultural change always come from the top; if the Royal family, Britain and other countries where they are the head of state follow a pointless, sexist tradition then why should anybody else fee the need to change any other pointless sexist traditions.

With male primogeniture in place Britain is telling the world that men are women are not equal, especially when it comes to inheriting the wealth of one of the richest families in the world.

It’s also refreshing to see a Lib Dem use language that is clear and meaningful to all of us and especially women. Every woman I’ve ever met can provide at least one example of how they’ve been subject to sexist behaviour and usually more than one.

So describing it how it is, instead of allowing political and legal jargon to clamber all over it and mask what we’re trying to say in the hope that nobody notices is a positive sign. It shows that we’re reaching out to target issues that matter to women and hold them back in terms of freedom and opportunity. Tackling sexism from the top is just the start!

The Saudi Regime's attachment to corruption is odious, but its gender apartheid is far worse

Riazat Butt posts this piece about her experiences in Saudi Arabia whilst reporting on the Hajj; may I commend it and the comment thread to you.

You know, I can’t help thinking that if the discrimination that was going on in Saudi Arabia was race based (and I know that there is race based discrimination in Saudi, but it is not hardwired into the law like it is for women) then it would be impossible for our Government to cosy up to the Saud family like they do. Instead of inviting them to tea and bribing them to buy our armaments we would be boycotting them and refusing to allow the ruling family to travel in Europe, like we do with African regimes that we disapprove of.

I was and still am tremendously proud of Vince’s stand back in October by refusing to meet members of the Saud family on their visit. The government’s stance over the BAe investigation and Saudi corruption is odious. And of course, we always tag on the end ‘..and they treat women appallingly’ in the way that everybody did when justifying the invasion of Afghanistan.

However, I would prefer if our elected representatives in the Liberal Democrats (or any other party for that matter) did not fell they needed corruption as the hook on which to hang their criticism of the Saudi regime’s treatment of women. It should be a big enough hook for a campaign in itself. The apartheid practised in Saudi Arabia is a gender apartheid not a racial one yet it is just as abhorrent and just as damaging to human rights. Successive UK governments tolerance of it should put us all to shame.

Who's Who in the Lib Dems Online

Just a quick note to tell you about Who's Who in the Lib Dems Online and the 2008 edition of the book that I am editing (Aargh!! No, no, it will be fine...proper project manager, me, not like those Terminal 5 amateurs)

Seriously though, if you would like to register your interest in having an 'entry' then please do so here. We’re looking to increase the number of entries from Liberal Democrats like never before; you may think you’re a small cog in the big Lib Dem wheel but you’re really interesting to us and to our Who's Who Readers. So, please sign up to be included! We want everybody, councillors, MPs, local party officers, bloggers, any sort of candidates, party leaders, blog readers, leaflet delivers...everybody!!

Back in early 2004, when I first became active in the Party I was sent a form to complete, via Liberty Network, of which I was a member. I didn't think that anybody would be interested in little ol' me as I hadn't done much in the Lib Dems..big mistake! What you've done for the Lib Dems is of course interesting but what you've done elsewhere, including in your professional life, could be just as interesting!

Only Lib Dems can have an entry (doh!) and if you want access to Who's Who in the Lib Dems Online then you will need to pay a subscription, with non-Lib Dems paying a higher subscription. We will be putting the same information in the book, as we always do, and anyone can buy that for the same price, Lib Dem or not.

The difference between the online version and the book is that it will be searchable and of course when something changes in your life you can update it!

Who's Who in the Lib Dems Online and the 2008 print version is edited by me and published by the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidates Association; if you would like more details about the PCA you can find them here.

In response to Jeremy's call to sacrifice London...aaargh!!!

Jeremy Hargreaves in his blog suggests that 2 years of Boris in charge of London will be enough to scare the country in the general election off the Tories forever; unfortunately the comments aren’t working on his blog so I can’t tell him what I think of that idea! So, I’m going to have to post my response here:

So, Jeremy, the thing is, I don't think Boris Johnson would act as a vaccination.

One of the things about Boris is that he has a distinct 'Boris' brand which is separate from the Conservatives. The Tories knew this when they chose him; it's similar to Ken's brand which is distinct from Labour.

This distinct brand means that Boris is far more attractive to Londoners than the Tories would be.

A Boris win would allow the Tories to capitalise on that heading to the General election, though.

I think Boris will screw up London because he is incompetent and inexperienced; but I’m not sure that this will come through in the 2 years between a Boris win in London in 2008 and a General election in 2010, firstly, because Boris will have a honeymoon period and, secondly, because it normally takes a couple of years for things to unravel.

In the event that he has no honeymoon period and his incompetence is shown up early enough to impact the General Election the Tories will be in a good position to distance themselves from him. Boris isn’t using the Tory brand to get into power and therefore the Tory brand will not be so contaminated by his failure as you may hope.

A win for Ken; well I don’t think that’s going to have any impact on Labour’s electoral chances.

Another reason why encouraging Boris Johnson is a really, really bad idea...

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Sorry to keep on about this but I’m hoping this little comment from Iain Dale’s blog (not him but one of his commenters, Danvers Baillieu)shines some light on why giving any vote for Boris is still a really, really bad idea; even if the fact that he’s incompetent, pointed out yesterday, doesn’t persuade you:

"I have just spent an hour or so handing out "Back Boris" oyster card holders outside Bank tube station. In all my years of campaigning, I have never seen such a positive response for a candidate. The card holders flew out of my (and the other volunteers') hands so fast we had to call to HQ for additional supplies. I realise that the centre of the City is not exactly enemy territory for Boris, but I still got the strong feeling that he is a popular front runner. After 11 years in the political wilderness, on 1 May Boris will show that the Conservatives are back."

Do you see that bit at the end there? The bit about the Conservatives being back? So, that’s the other really, really horrific thing about giving your second preference vote (or God forbid, your first; not that I’m religious, but you might be) to Boris Johnson.

Do we really want to give the Tories this momentum?

I’m pretty sure that the Tories know he’s an incompetent too. They’re just happy to let his media persona do some work for them for once and sacrifice London so that they can build up momentum for the General Election. After all, there’ll be plenty of them ready to pull his puppet strings. And to those (thankfully now receding proportionately in the Lib Dem Voice poll) who think it might be a jolly wheeze to place your second vote for Boris, and then just think about what a boost this would give the Tories.

If the Tories get a comfortable majority in a General Election off the back of a win in London, not only could some of that majority be at the expense of Lib Dem MPs, but we can say bye-bye to electoral reform any time in the near future.

No votes are wasted, even second ones. I know that the best vote is a vote for Brian Paddick but it seems we still have a FPTP mentality; the second vote is still there to be used and not ignored or frittered away in a fit of hubris.

My only hope is that, given that Mr Baillieu was giving out the oyster card holders at Bank, many of the workers were commuters living outside of London or that they didn’t know who was on the oyster card holder and were just happy to get a new one. Personally, I think the oyster card holder from Mulberry is far more chic!

Why Boris Johnson is a really, really bad idea.

Boris Johnson terrifies me. Boris Johnson terrifies me because if he gets into power he will ruin our fantastic City.

So, it is with horror and disbelief that I see the polls that put Boris ahead and even on Lib Dem Voice so many people are putting Boris as their second preference; although perhaps they’re the ones that don’t actually live in London and so won’t have to live with so many of the consequences!

For sure, there is much to be done; our roads are still too congested, our public transport too expensive and inefficiently run, people are afraid of crime and we have teenagers killing each other with knives and guns; but it is still one of the best cities in the world to live in. I am so, so proud of being a Londoner and I reckon we knock the socks off all our great city rivals such as Paris, Berlin and New York.

We need a Mayor who is capable, who has a passion not just for power but running things and changing them where they have to be changed.

Nothing, nothing I have so far seen, in this man Boris Johnson, gives me any indication that he could do anything more than make a joke out of the job. No, really; because unless presenting ‘Have I got news for you?’ is the qualification required to run the best capital city in the world, as I’ve not seen him do anything else!

And he proved this on Newsnight, last night, as Lynne Featherstone so adroitly points out. Boris once more showed us that this is just an exercise in vanity for him; that he is so much more interested in just being someone than doing anything. Lynne points out:

“Boris was appalling - and Paxman nailed him on his waffle approach by asking him for a figure for something he was proposing re-replacing bendy buses. Boris was baffled. Boris was bamboozled. But Boris didn't answer the question. Boris was exposed as not knowing a thing really about bus costs.”

And this is the thing: if you are capable, if you are experienced at actually running things and you are really interested in something then understanding the costs of what you wanted to do is easy. It trips off your tongue; you have rehearsed all the arguments in favour of something because you have rehearsed them with yourself. You have thought it through.

I am, in my professional life a Projects & Programme Manager. I am responsible for spending millions pounds of my clients’ money and (obviously) ensuring that they either save as much or are able to bring in much, much more extra revenue as a result of the changes that I and my teams will make in their business and organisations. I can tell you right now, how much money I have spent, how much money I am going to spend, how much I should have spent and how much the extra thing that the MD asked us to do actually cost. I know how much money we’re going to save or earn, what that relies on, why it might not happen. I know all that stuff. Off by heart, without looking. If you woke me up at three in the morning and I was still half asleep I’d probably be able to give you that information before I could tell you my name. Or your name*.

I know, with passion, what the most important issues are, what the risks are and why we’re doing what we’re doing. Of course I do; for somebody charging what I do, you would expect no less. Indeed, if you wanted to employ someone for the job of spending millions of pounds on behalf of your organisation you’d probably look for a CV that proved they had done that sort of thing before, with some evidence of successful outcome.

Well, step forward Brian Paddick (tick), who has managed millions of pounds worth of policing and been so successful in Lambeth that when he left there was a grass roots campaign to bring him back – he made a difference, a positive difference. When asked about dealing with gun crime last night he was passionate and fluent in his response.

And even, though I have to hold my nose as I say this, step forward Ken Livingstone (tick). I don’t like Ken, I don’t like the company he keeps, the way he wastes money, the permanent self promotion that he undertakes and the dodgy deals and cronies that he keeps in work. But I have to concede that, although he has usually nicked the ideas of the Lib Dem Group at GLA, he can at least implement change and run a city. Not as well as I would like, but he has not been the disaster I thought he would be eight years ago (there, I can stop holding my breath now).

But Boris Johnson? Nothing, nada…no experience and, it looks pretty clear to me, no interest in and passion for running or doing anything. Is the mayoralty a Tory compensation prize for a man with the delusion that he could’ve have been something? You see, I don’t think Boris is stupid; I’m sure the man is very clever, writes a good column and even I concede that he can be amusing on telly; but he does not have the competence to be the Mayor of London. Frankly I wouldn’t employ Boris to answer the bleeding phone in my company, let alone run the bloody thing.

And so, I just do not understand why so many people would have Boris as their first or second choice on May 1st.

If you care anything about London and the people who live and work in it, you will not put a cross anywhere near the name of Boris Johnson. Put your first choice for Brian Paddick, he is undoubtedly the best candidate; but whatever else you do, don’t let Boris Johnson ruin our beautiful, wonderful, vibrant city!

*Although, to be fair, if you woke me up to ask me that sort of stuff at three in the morning, you may no longer need a name as I may be tempted to commit some sort of ‘cide’ on you.

Liberal Democrats to bring velib to London

I was in Paris last weekend (yes, lucky me!) and was rather taken with their new 'bike transit system' known as Velib. In fact I was so taken by it that I couldn't resist pointing out each and every Velib bike that I saw going by; that wasn't at all irritating for my partner (unlucky him)!

Velib is a short term bike rental system. There are cycle racks dotted about all over the city and about 20,000 bikes in total. You have to purchase a subscription card and off you go! The first 30 mins is free and then as time goes by the charge goes up exponentially. This is to make sure you return the bike to the racks at the first opportunity rather than keeping it just in case you need it!

It looks great and the bikes are very snazzy looking – I was certainly keen to try and if we'd had more time….

It might be too early to tell yet and I was only there at the weekend but I would be interested to know how the people I was travelling by Velib would have travelled? Were they taking walkers of the pavement or people off the buses? According to some of the contributers to this piece the number of cycles has doubled or trebled – even gone up fivefold; more objective reports said that a million trips had been undertaken on velibs within 2 weeks of that start of the scheme last summer!

Like I said I was only there at the weekend and we more or less stuck to the 8th arrondissment on this trip. Certainly from this article it seems to be a success and it's true to say that we didn't find our selves in a traffic jam once over the weekend! That said during my previous major experience, when I spent a few weeks in Paris as a teenager one summer, I didn't come across many traffic jams either; but that was because I was forever riding pillion on a motorbike (don't ask!!)

So it makes it very good news that Brian Paddick is looking into bringing velib to London!!

A clown and DI Gene Hunt ran past

me on London Bridge this morning, as I was walking across in to the City. Or at least I’m sure about the clown and there were two guys chasing him and the last one looked like DI Hunt from Ashes to Ashes but it was all very fast and I couldn’t tell you if they were wearing attire from the early 1980’s or not!

The thing is this being London and London Bridge in particular no one actually batted an eyelid, double took or faltered in their march across the bridge. I hate walking across the bridge at rush hour, it all feels just so relentless and like you’re a very small cog in a very big wheel; which is of course just about right. That said, this morning this was all happening about 9.30am as I and my finely tuned body clock are still adjusting to British Summer Time. You do get used to people filming and therefore don’t react so much as you might want to.

Still, all rather surreal. Especially as I was at the time listening to ‘The Logical Song’ from Supertramp’s Breakfast in America album. An album I had only been prompted to download as a result of hearing ‘Take the Long Way Home’ on Ashes to Ashes last week and being transported back to my teenage years of endless repetitive playing of the said album.

There was definitely a Clown there. That’s all I’m saying. And I think it was ‘Take the Long Way Home’ that I heard last week.

Back to Home Back to Top Jo Christie-Smith. Theme ligneous by Bloggerized by Chica Blogger.