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Man in the middle can impact on that two-horse race

PUBLISHED: 13:02 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:41 07 September 2010

Brian Paddick

Brian Paddick

IF like me you had predicted the mayoral election to be a two-horse race between Red Ken and Blue Boris, it was probably before former policeman Brian Paddick entered the game. I don t think he can win (the smart money is still on Ken) but he s an impress

IF like me you had predicted the mayoral election to be a two-horse race between Red Ken and Blue Boris, it was probably before former policeman Brian Paddick entered the game.

I don't think he can win (the smart money is still on Ken) but he's an impressive candidate and his 'man in the middle' appearance on ITV's London Talking last week did him no harm.

A week ago, I would have stuck by my original view that at the business end of the count, Ken and Boris would be the last men standing. Now I'm not so sure. Mr Paddick might just drive a wedge between them.

His 'good cop' performance as he seated himself between the big two was assured and confident. While Ken and Boris blustered and bristled, he remained calmly in control - as you would expect from a top cop caught up in a brawl, albeit one of the verbal variety.

What struck me was that almost the entire programme was conducted on his terms. Whether this was by accident or design I'm not quite sure, but it was almost as if Mr Paddick had written the agenda and the others had meekly acquiesced.

The discussions centred on crime, crime and more crime and while Ken can reel off statistics and Boris can make strident claims, there's nothing quite like hearing it from the horse's mouth.

Crime is Mr Paddick's speciality and each of his opponents made a strategic error by playing to his strengths.

On the back of this, Mr Paddick then issued an audacious promise to cut crime in London by 20 per cent by the end of his hoped-for first mayoral term. If he doesn't, he will resign.

Voters are rightly sceptical of hollow promises and broken pledges but it is clear that over the coming weeks, Mr Paddick intends to spell out exactly how he will achieve this, and one gets the impression that given the chance, he will honour his pledge one way or the other.

My only concern is that he is somewhat prone to using military language, which can make you just a little uneasy in his company.

During the course of an interesting conversation last week, he talked me through the difference between fighting a 'ground war' and an 'air war' in campaigning terms, and bemoaned the fact that, unlike Boris, he didn't have a £1million 'war chest' to play with. All a bit scary for sure, but happily, he soon moved on to the more benign world of 'level playing fields' and 'uphill' and 'downhill' momentum. Such a relief.

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