Floella Benjamin linked to mayoral challenge

By politics.co.uk staff

The Liberal Democrats could pick former Play School presenter Floella Benjamin as their candidate for the 2012 London mayoral election, according to a report.

Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham, who was ennobled after the general election, is being viewed as a potential challenger to incumbent Boris Johnson, the Mirror newspaper reported.

Sketch: In the chamber for Floella Benjamin’s ennoblement

It quoted a senior party source as saying: “Floella is just what we need to take on Boris. She is just as well known as him and people know her wherever she goes from the TV programmes.

“What they don’t realise yet is the serious political side to her as well.”

A spokesperson of Lady Benjamin, the founder of the Touching Success charity, played down the prospect of a mayoral run, however.

This may be to avoid unnecessarily irritating Lembit Opik. The colourful ex-Lib Dem MP, who lost his seat in May, has his hopes set on City Hall to continue his political career.

Brian Paddick, the Lib Dem candidate in the 2008 mayoral election, was squeezed by Mr Johnson and Labour’s Ken Livingstone, taking just 5.2% of first-preference votes.