The fantastic Sage conference hall was the venue for Brian Paddick’s speech to the Liberal Democrat spring conference.
Or rather, his co-speech. Because for the purposes of the London 2012 campaign, Brian Paddick is no more. Instead he has been merged into Brian-Paddick-Caroline-Pidgeon.
It is one of the lessons from previous London campaigns that the party needs to be far better at turning profile for a Mayor candidate into votes for the London Assembly list, the best prospect for the party to gain new seats.
This then was not Brian Paddick’s speaking slot. It was the Brian-Paddick-Caroline-Pidgeon speaking slot, preceded by the Brian-Paddick-Caroline-Pidgeon video. Both in the film and in the speech-making, it was Caroline that came first.
“It is vital that we maximise our vote for the London Assembly,” said Brian Paddick when it was his turn to speak. He echoed the campaign’s previous theme that when the votes are counted in May, it’s likely to be a close call between Lib Dem list candidate Shas Sheehan and the BNP. A female, liberal, Muslim versus the extremism of the the BNP – a deeply symbolic and practical choice.
He had particular criticism for Boris Johnson over phone hacking. Johnson initially criticised the police for putting too much effort in his eyes into investigating it. Johnson wasn’t alone in that – so too (although Paddick didn’t mention it) did Green Mayor candidate Jenny Jones. But as Brian Paddick pointed out, they got that judgement test badly wrong.
On policy, Paddick majored on policing – a sensible move given it is his area of major expertise and given that the Mayor of London has major (and expanded) powers over policing.