Second time lucky? Paddick kick-starts mayoral campaign

By Ian Dunt

Brian Paddick's second attempt to secure City Hall for the Liberal Democrats began today with an acknowledgement that he would struggle in the contest.

Speaking at a press conference confirming his selection as Liberal Democrat candidate for mayor, the former policeman said London elections are "tough" for Liberal Democrats but vowed to smile more than he had done last time.

"I know how tough the London election are for Lib Dems as a party and next year is going to be no exception," he admitted, in a low-key opening to his campaign.

"But where people are wrong is when they say it's going to be a rerun of 2008.

"First of all Boris Johnson now has a track record, a very poor track record, and one he will be held to account on," he continued.

"Ken Livingstone is a character from the last century. He's still blaming Margaret Thatcher. He's still talking about Hitler and Churchill.

"I am a more relaxed, more confident, more experienced politician than I was last time. I'm even known to smile occasionally."

The Liberal Democrat was forced onto the sidelines last time after the mayoral race turned into a Ken vs Boris contest.

Mr Paddick, who was the highest-ranking openly gay police officer when he was at the Met, struggled to overcome his two opponents' high degrees of public recognition and often cut a humourless and subdued figure in debates.

Jenny Jones, Green party mayoral candidate, commented: "London desperately needs fresh ideas for the new challenges which people are facing.

"Brian Paddick failed to inspire potential Lib Dem voters in 2008, and I think the same could happen again next year."

While Mr Johnson now suffers the negative effects of being the incumbent, Mr Paddick will also have new problems.

The Liberal Democrats' role in the coalition could see them getting even more punishment in the London poll than in 2008, unless Mr Paddick can disassociate himself from the scene in Westminster.