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.

Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.

  • Rory Carr

    “I think like every great politician you have to have some wilderness years. Nelson Mandela had them.”

    Leaving aside the notion of Lembit as “a great politician” as we must, is he really suggesting that we send him off to solitary confinement in an island prison for 25 years?

    Okay, Lembit, I’m thinking about it. I’m definitely thinking about it.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Other than by himself, this is surely one of the most over-rated figures in – or at least partially in – public life. He epitomizes pretty much all there is to dislike in the classic political animal of his ilk – shallow, tremendously vain, apparently almost proud of his opportunism, screamingly narcissistic, an almost inexhaustible appetite for tiresomeness and attention-seeking of the most brattish kind. To borrow back a phrase, if they could give him an industrial enema he’d fit inside a matchbox. Or, to utilize a Wodehouseism, a frightful little excrescence.

  • Rory Carr

    So, not a fan then, Nun?

  • Nunoftheabove


    ….errrr…not quite decided yet.

    Best all ’round I didn’t come across this thread while one over the eight last night, that much I shall say. Then I’d have been moved to say what I really think 😉

  • Turgon

    One of Opik’s problems has been an inability to stick at things. Politicians, especially those in long-term opposition (as the Liberal Democrats have been until the last election – when Opik was thrown out) do best when they develop specific expertise over a very long time.

    Opik seems to have flitted from one trendy cause to another. he does not seem to have stuck to a serious set of issues and developed a reputation on them. The one thing he seems to have stuck to was asteroids hitting earth but that seemed a bit too silly.

    Without wishing to play the man too much his personal relationships seem not dissimilar. He is clearly able to attract good looking and often intelligent women but then seems to dump them.

    The politicians who had wilderness years and then succeeded tended to stick to relevant themes (democracy in South Africa for Mandella; the danger of war for Churchill).

    Leaving aside Opik’s complete lack of anything approaching gravitas despite now being in his 40s, he seems unable to stick to a given issue. Trying to become London mayoral candidate after having been a Welsh MP seems an example of pointless attention seeking flitting.

    His wilderness years may last rather longer than either Mandella’s or Churchill’s.

  • Turgon @ 2:34 pm:

    Opik seems to have flitted from one trendy cause to another. He does not seem to have stuck to a serious set of issues and developed a reputation on them … he seems unable to stick to a given issue… an example of pointless attention seeking

    In other words, slap-bang in the middle of the LibDem tradition?

    By contrast, Paddick seems a very good and attractive alternative. Now, if it didn’t risk letting Blasted Boris back by default, I and many others could be severely tempted.

    The very, very best LibDem candidate would have been Mike Tuffrey, who understands London local government, works hard, but sadly lacks the public recognition.

  • Stewart Finn

    Tell me he didnt compare himself to Mandela! – I dont recall Mandela being fickle, fame seeking or hooking up with a Cheeky Girl.