LYNNE FEATHERSTONE: Our man Paddick can do great things for London
The risk with keeping a public diary (as I do with my blog at www.lynnefeatherstone.org/blog.htm) is that it means your words are out there, in full public view – and (thanks to search engines, caching and all that malarkey) even still there to be found i
The risk with keeping a public diary (as I do with my blog at www.lynnefeatherstone.org/blog.htm) is that it means your words are out there, in full public view - and (thanks to search engines, caching and all that malarkey) even still there to be found if I hit delete on my own site.
So when Brian Paddick, a former Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, put his name forward to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor, I went through two immediate emotions. Firstly - pleasure, because my experiences of dealing with him whilst he was in the police and I was on the Metropolitan Policy Authority were very positive. But secondly - anxiety, because I did wonder whether I'd ever written something critical about him - and if so whether my words would get quoted back at me or Brian for evermore - or at least, until polling day.
Thankfully - searching the blog revealed that my views had indeed all been positive, not just in retrospect but also at the time. Hurrah!
But what was it about him that impressed me? Well, it was the combination of a successful record of actually tackling crime whilst also being open and willing to address policing issues which can cause concern, particularly among members of ethnic minority communities.
Take stop and search: it has a valuable role in fighting crime, but when misapplied by over-enthusiastic police, it results in innocent people being harassed, police time wasted by stopping the wrong people and worsening community relations - bad in themselves and bad for the cooperation needed to tackle crime. Some police do get very defensive about any questioning of this tactic - and some even feel that if you don't fully support unlimited stop and searching of anyone, anytime in any circumstances, then you are not really on their side.
Brian though was one of the police officers smarter than that - he understood that abusing a technique loses public support and actually hinders the fight against crime - and was always willing to engage in debate over how the policy should best be shaped.
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I really can't therefore think of anyone better suited to become London Mayor and to head up the drive against crime in London. Thank goodness he turns out to be a Liberal Democrat - I must admit I would probably have had some real conscience pangs if he'd stood as an independent against a Liberal Democrat candidate!
It's not just in the area of policing that I think Brian would be the serious, effective choice - rather than cheeky chappy Ken or talk show celebrity without a previous track record of interest in London, Boris Johnson.
Look at the serious allegations hanging around over money and the London Development Agency. Six grants under scrutiny by the police. Lack of proper financial controls over grants totalling £18.5 million (including millions given to the Bernie Grant centre in Haringey) criticised by financial inspectors. One of the top GLA aides forced to resign after lying about receiving a freebie trip overseas. And a host of other allegations too.
Ken's response is to crack jokes or to shout 'racism'. It's not racism to want money to be looked after properly. After all it is the very members of ethnic minority communities who suffer most if funding designed to tackle poverty in those communities is wasted, diverted or stolen.
Having spent five years myself as an Assembly member and seen how tough it is to deliver in London, this is no job for an amiable entertainer. It is a grown up job for someone who knows how to deliver. Crime and fear of crime are still key issues for Londoners. Having a top cop at the helm - and one with a record of delivering crime reduction - is clearly an advantage. Brian has already pledged to cut crime by 20 per cent in his first term or he won't stand again, and he already has a record of having delivered the best crime reductions in London on his commands.
I think you can guess who I will be voting for!
Lynne Featherstone is the Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey & Wood Green