Lembit Opik hasn’t gone away you know (PS: Brian Paddick’s the Lib Dem candidate for London mayor)

While earlier this week ‘punk godfather’ Terri Hooley won the race to be elected as Lord Mayor of the Cathedral Quarter as part of Culture Night Belfast‘s celebrations, the competitors are only warming up on the starting line of the 2012 London Mayoral elections.

This evening, London Lib Dem members voted to give former Metropolitan Police officer and 2008-candidate Brian Paddick a second chance, rather than hand the opportunity to ‘celebrity’ Lembit Opik. In an interview with London’s Evening Standard, Opik conceded defeat:

He said: “I stood because I felt the Lib-Dems desperately need to reach beyond their traditional voters. Boris and Ken are celebrity politicians. I fear the party doesn’t grasp the implications of this.”

He vowed not to quit politics permanently and predicted his party would swing back to the libertarian Left from its current stance under Nick Clegg.

“When it does I’ll be there,” he said. “People have not heard the last of Lembit Opik just yet. As somebody else said once, I’ll be back.”

Opik is also reported as saying:

I think like every great politician you have to have some wilderness years. Nelson Mandela had them. Many other people had them.

Not that Brian Paddick is a total stranger to the world of celebrity. The Guardian’s London blogger Dave Hill quotes Paddick in a post tonight:

Recently I was campaigning in a by-election in London and it was about 50:50 in terms of who recognised me from the last mayoral race and other more recent serious media coverage on policing, the riots, the Norway massacre and phone hacking, and those who recognised me from [I’m A Celebrity]. Like it or not (and I don’t), it got the Lib Dems some extra votes in that particular by-election and it may get me some more votes if I win the Lib Dem ticket for the main event in 2012.