'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Monday, 5 September 2011

I'm using a blog to congratulate Brian Paddick. I bet Lembit Opik doesn't approve.

First off, many congratulations to Brian Paddick in becoming our candidate to be Mayor of London.

I made no secret of the fact that I gave my first choice vote to Mike Tuffrey and I explained my reasoning back in July. And I'm sorry he just missed out. Never the less, I think Brian will make a fine candidate and his performance in the media over the last few weeks discussing the riots has been excellent. I am sure Brian will run a first class campaign and I will be shoving leaflets through doors supporting both him and all our GLA candidates with enthusiasm next year.

Now. I can't resist. Just a quick word about Lembit. Plenty has been written already about his unfortunate decision to compare himself with Nelson Mandela. And as Paul Walter has already pointed out that some negative comments on blogs can't really account for him picking up just 8% of first preference votes.

But what I find odd is that Lembit seems to feel it's in some way inappropriate for us bloggers to proffer opinions on the merits of candidates in elections. Here's what he said...

Ever since I was first enticed into entering the fray as a potential candidate, I've experienced a remarkable degree of antagonism and aggression from certain Lib Dems.

Most of it has occurred in the strange and self-styled environment of the 'blogosphere' - a parallel universe where some people who've never been elected to public office feel qualified to pronounce on those who have.

When one meets these people for real, their courage on the internet seems to desert them, replaced by excuses and a quick exit at the first opportunity.

Skirting over the fact that the unelected giving their thoughts applies to the whole of the media and not just the blogosphere, it seems a very strange attitude for a Liberal to hold towards freedom of speech. And I don't quite understand why the view of someone who feels more comfortable using the written word than vocalising their opinions is somehow less valid than someone who is happy to spout their views out loud at any given opportunity.

I did wonder if he'd been done an injustice by a sub editor at the Standard, but a series of critical tweets he's been sending to @libdemlife would suggest not.

Now, I don't have anything against Lembit. While I do see his decision to stand as our Mayoral candidate as a piece of inappropriate political oppprtunism ('enticed' indeed - ha!), he does remain a high profile Lib Dem who can provide a strong platform for the party's views. And I hope he continues to play a part.

But please Lembit. Remember you're a Liberal and meant to be defending Freedom of Speech.

And yes. I'll happily say this to you face to face.

Are you in London?

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