I can't vote for Brian Paddick twice

So where should my second-preference vote go?

I love the ceremony of voting. I like the stroll down Lock Road to the polling station, the good natured hello’s to the party folk, friend and foe, at the door, the hushed librarian tones of the officials, the crispness of the blank ballot papers, the stubby pencils, the lot.

But I will enjoy it less than usual this time. Because I don’t know, with a day to go, who to vote for.

Don’t get me wrong. I will be voting Lib Dem. I shall happily support our local GLA candidate Munira Wilson, confident she will do a wonderful job. I will cross fingers as I vote Lib Dem in the party lists, hoping this time our local leader, Stephen Knight, gets over the line, as well as the inspirational Caroline Pidgeon. And I will happily put a great big cross against Brian Paddick’s name, who has run a brilliant campaign and shown a better grasp of core issues like housing or policing than any of the other candidates.

But at that point the misery kicks in. Because in the London Mayoral election I have the chance to express a second preference, on the off chance Brian doesn’t make it over the line. And for me and all Lib Dems, it’s a rotten choice.

Lots of fellow party members have been making warm noises about the independent candidate Siobhan Benita – but she’s pro-third runway, which is a red line issue for me and the good folk of Ham Common. The UK Independence Party are anti-third runway (it’s one of the reasons I’ve been tipping Zac Goldsmith as a potential Tory defector in their direction – been a couple of weeks now, he’s still not denying it). However , ‘no-third-runway’ is just about the only policy I have in common with Ukip, so they’re a no. When I answer blind policy questions to tell me who to vote for, I find I have much in common with the Green Party. But I’m voting for a Mayor, and do I want Jenny Jones to be the leader of this great city? Sorry Jenny, but no, I don’t. And anyway, everyone tells me that if a second preference is to count, I have to select either Ken or Boris.

My problem with Boris is not that he isn’t a likeable character – but I struggle to think of what he’s done. There’s the bikes – but that wasn’t his idea in the first place. There’s the new buses. Which look lovely but don’t seem to have been the most brilliant way of spending gazillions of pounds.  And that’s pretty much it. After 4 years I have no sense of radicalism, of excitement, of a crusade to make Londoners lives better.

Which to be fair to Ken, I do have.  But can I really vote for a candidate who is clearly making all sorts of promises that I just don’t believe he can keep – like the return of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). And who half of his own party wishes they hadn’t selected  (and no, I don’t just mean Dan Hodges).

So, a loveable rogue who doesn’t inspire me or the candidate Labour wishes they hadn’t chosen in the first place.

It’s not much of a choice is it? And this is to elect a politician with the largest electoral mandate in the country?

I shall probably find myself banging my head in frustration on the table on the voting booth.

I wish I could vote for Brian Paddick twice.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference.

Labour Party mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone jokingly holds a T-shirt in front of current Mayor Boris Johnson as they pose with Greencandidate Jenny Jones and Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick. Photograph: Getty Images.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

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Theresa May’s stage-managed election campaign keeps the public at bay

Jeremy Corbyn’s approach may be chaotic, but at least it’s more authentic.

The worst part about running an election campaign for a politician? Having to meet the general public. Those ordinary folk can be a tricky lot, with their lack of regard for being on-message, and their pesky real-life concerns.

But it looks like Theresa May has decided to avoid this inconvenience altogether during this snap general election campaign, as it turns out her visit to Leeds last night was so stage-managed that she barely had to face the public.

Accusations have been whizzing around online that at a campaign event at the Shine building in Leeds, the Prime Minister spoke to a room full of guests invited by the party, rather than local people or people who work in the building’s office space.

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope tweeted a picture of the room in which May was addressing her audience yesterday evening a little before 7pm. He pointed out that, being in Leeds, she was in “Labour territory”:

But a few locals who spied this picture online claimed that the audience did not look like who you’d expect to see congregated at Shine – a grade II-listed Victorian school that has been renovated into a community project housing office space and meeting rooms.

“Ask why she didn’t meet any of the people at the business who work in that beautiful building. Everyone there was an invite-only Tory,” tweeted Rik Kendell, a Leeds-based developer and designer who says he works in the Shine building. “She didn’t arrive until we’d all left for the day. Everyone in the building past 6pm was invite-only . . . They seemed to seek out the most clinical corner for their PR photos. Such a beautiful building to work in.”

Other tweeters also found the snapshot jarring:

Shine’s founders have pointed out that they didn’t host or invite Theresa May – rather the party hired out the space for a private event: “All visitors pay for meeting space in Shine and we do not seek out, bid for, or otherwise host any political parties,” wrote managing director Dawn O'Keefe. The guestlist was not down to Shine, but to the Tory party.

The audience consisted of journalists and around 150 Tory activists, according to the Guardian. This was instead of employees from the 16 offices housed in the building. I have asked the Conservative Party for clarification of who was in the audience and whether it was invite-only and am awaiting its response.

Jeremy Corbyn accused May of “hiding from the public”, and local Labour MP Richard Burgon commented that, “like a medieval monarch, she simply briefly relocated her travelling court of admirers to town and then moved on without so much as a nod to the people she considers to be her lowly subjects”.

But it doesn’t look like the Tories’ painstaking stage-management is a fool-proof plan. Having uniform audiences of the party faithful on the campaign trail seems to be confusing the Prime Minister somewhat. During a visit to a (rather sparsely populated) factory in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, yesterday, she appeared to forget where exactly on the campaign trail she was:

The management of Corbyn’s campaign has also resulted in gaffes – but for opposite reasons. A slightly more chaotic approach has led to him facing the wrong way, with his back to the cameras.

Corbyn’s blunder is born out of his instinct to address the crowd rather than the cameras – May’s problem is the other way round. Both, however, seem far more comfortable talking to the party faithful, even if they are venturing out of safe seat territory.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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