Last Friday on my way home on the tube from City Hall, l read the Evening Standard. The article which caught my eye the most was the one about the Liberal Democrat’s failure to find anyone suitable to stand for them in the mayoral contest.
If I’m completely honest, my thoughts on this are, does it really matter whether the Lib Dems have a candidate at this stage or not because their candidate has no chance of winning the mayoral contest anyway? It is such a binary political choice between the Tory and Labour candidate that the only meaningful contribution any Lib Dem mayoral contender could make, is to declare where they think their voter’s second preferences should go. It does, however give an opportunity for someone to bank some publicity for themselves, as they are afforded the same stage as the other two heavyweight candidates. Therefore it comes of little surprise to read about Mr Opik’s desire to stand and the party’s understandable reluctance to press ahead with the selection process without any real choice. Nonethless, there is no getting away with the fact that this is an important choice for the Lib Dems. Their last mayoral candidate in 2008 was Brian Paddock and with his rather wooden performances, l’d suggest probably cost them two London Assembly seats. Next time round, it’ll be even more difficult for them, with two years of public expenditure cuts under their belt and as the junior partner in a coalition government, the electorate will probably want to punish them, particularly with all their broken promises on issues like tuition fees. Candidate or no candidate at this stage, the reality is that the Lib Dems would do well to hold onto their 3 seats on the London Assembly in 2012.