My only tac­tic is to get it right

The JC is ask­ing all the key Lon­don may­oral can­di­dates where they stand on Jewish is­sues. The Lib-Dem’s man talks to Si­mon Rocker

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

NEXT YEAR, the Rev­erend Gra­ham Pad­dick, a Church of Eng­land vicar in Sur­rey, will be lead­ing con­gre­gants on a pil­grim­age to Is­rael.

One man who hopes not to be join­ing him is his brother Brian, not be­cause of any an­i­mus to­wards Is­rael, but be­cause he aims to be too busy run­ning Lon­don.

The for­mer deputy as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner of the Metropoli­tan Po­lice is the Lib­eral Demo­crat can­di­date in next month’s elec­tion for Lon­don Mayor.

Trail­ing in the polls, he knows he has his work cut out to re­main a vi­able choice against two of Bri­tain’s best­known politi­cians, Labour’s Ken Liv­ing­stone and the Con­ser­va­tive chal­lenger Boris John­son.

Elec­torally, LibDems have suf­fered all too of­ten from be­ing Cin­derel­las who never make it to the ball: po­ten­tial sym­pa­this­ers have felt that a bet­ter bet for boot­ing out a Labour in­cum­bent is to vote Tory, or vice versa.

But there is no rea­son for such tac­ti­cal vot­ing, Mr Pad­dick ar­gues, be­cause the cap­i­tal’s elec­tions are dif­fer­ent from the first-past-the-post sys­tem used to choose MPs.

“Uniquely in the may­oral elec­tion, you get two votes — first pref­er­ence vote and sec­ond pref­er­ence vote,” he said. “That en­ables peo­ple to vote with their con­science for the first pref­er­ence — and tac­ti­cally sec­ond vote.”

The way it works is like this. Say you have X, Y and Z stand­ing. If one can­di­date gets more than 50 per cent of first pref­er­ence votes, they au­to­mat­i­cally win. Oth­er­wise, the two with the high­est votes, say X and Z, go through: the sec­ond-choice votes of peo­ple who voted for Y first are then added to X and Z to de­cide who has the larger tally over­all.

With over 30 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in the force — he re­tired last year — he be­lieves he has the cre­den­tials to tackle one key voter con­cern; crime. In his man­i­festo, pub­lished on Mon­day, he pledges to re­duce it by five per cent each year. Other com­mit- ments in­clude more af­ford­able rental hous­ing, es­pe­cially for large fam­i­lies, free travel for un­der­grad­u­ates and an eco-cen­tre where peo­ple can get ad­vice on mak­ing their homes greener. He also prom­ises a seat on the Trans­port for Lon­don board for black cab driv­ers.

But one thing he has re­solved not to do is to drag the mayor’s of­fice into for­eign pol­i­tics, es­pe­cially Mid­dle East­ern pol­i­tics. “The dif­fi­culty the cur­rent mayor has had,” he says, “is ap­pear­ing to, or giv­ing the per­cep­tion, that he is tak­ing sides, be­ing more pro-Mus­lim — and one un­for­tu­nate com­ment he made to a jour­nal­ist giv­ing the per­cep­tion, at least, that he may be an­tisemitic.

“The role of the mayor is as far as pos­si­ble to cre­ate har­mony and en­sure that peo­ple can peace­fully co-ex­ist in Lon­don , no mat­ter what their faith is.”

The mayor should visit places of wor­ship and “be seen to be pos­i­tive about re­li­gion, [but] not nec­es­sar­ily to be the cat­a­lyst to bring peo­ple of dif­fer­ent faiths to­gether — I think there are more than enough very wor­thy ini­tia­tives that faith lead­ers are al­ready en­gaged in”.

He him­self was in­tro­duced to Chris­tian­ity by a po­lice col­league on a course. “He de­mol­ished the neg­a­tive stereo­type I had of Chris­tian peo­ple as weak, weedy peo­ple who needed some sort of emo­tional crutch which I think a lot of non-be­liev­ers as­cribe to be­liev­ers gen­er­ally, not just Chris­tians.

“I de­scribe my re­li­gion as hav­ing a per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with God. I think it is more im­por­tant to re­spect the be­liefs that other peo­ple have and to re­spect peo­ple who have no be­lief more than it is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to ‘con­vert’ peo­ple to be­liev­ing what I be­lieve in.”

But he does not be­lieve that re­li­gious con­ser­va­tives count against him the fact that he is gay — he has a long-term part­ner. “When peo­ple re­alise you are a de­cent per­son, that you are good at a job, they are pre­pared to over­look your sex­u­al­ity if they have an is­sue with it,” he said.

In fact, he has found “par­tic­u­lar res­o­nances with the Jewish com­mu­nity. I un­der­stand what it is like to be in a ma­ligned mi­nor­ity. I un­der­stand what it’s like to have lots of in­ac­cu­ra­cies and lies based on prej­u­dice told about you.

“I also know what it’s like and how un­fair it is when peo­ple take sides in ar­gu­ments that they should prob­a­bly keep out of.

“I don’t know how much Jewish peo­ple would see a sort of com­mon cause with gay peo­ple. The pink tri­an­gle — the sym­bol of the gay move­ment for years and years — has com­mon ori­gins with the yel­low star in Nazi Ger­many. And I think there is a lot of com­mon ground be­tween Lib­eral peo­ple and Jewish peo­ple — this abil- ity to live your life the way you want to is an im­por­tant prin­ci­ple.”

He said that he has felt more “at home” among Jewish au­di­ences than among any other on the cam­paign. Af­ter a well-re­ceived ad­dress to the Lon­don Jewish Fo­rum, he has ad­dressed a Lib­eral Ju­daism meet­ing, vis­ited the Bren­ner Com­mu­nity Cen­tre in Stam­ford Hill and gone walk­a­bout in Brent Cross.

While Jewish vot­ers ex­press pretty much the same in­ter­ests as ev­ery­one else, he is well aware that some have a par­tic­u­lar is­sue with the cur­rent mayor. “I think there are a lot of Jewish peo­ple, from the small sam­ple I’ve spo­ken to, who don’t be­lieve they can vote for Ken Liv­ing­stone any more be­cause of the per­cep­tion he has given that he is, at least, anti-Is­rael, if not an­tisemitic,” he said.

One Jewish ex-sup­porter of Ken Liv­ing­stone had writ­ten to him to say that he could not bring him­self to vote Con­ser­va­tive. “There­fore, for com­pletely neg­a­tive rea­sons, he was go­ing to vote for me be­cause he couldn’t vote for the other two. I phoned him and said, hope­fully I will be able to give you some pos­i­tive rea­sons to vote for me.”

A s f o r J e wi s h donors to the cam­paign, he re­veals only that he had “lunch with a wealthy Jewish gen­tle­man who used to own a num­ber of houses in High­gate who is very pos­i­tive about sup­port­ing me and hop­ing to per­suade other wealthy Jewish peo­ple to join in — but I’ll let him ‘out’ him­self, as and when he feels it is the right time to do it.”

In or­der to keep the BNP out of City Hall, he echoes the ap­peal of the Board of Deputies and oth­ers for as many Lon­don­ers as pos­si­ble to vote for any main­stream party in elec­tions for the Lon­don As­sem­bly.

But he added: “The most wor­ry­ing de­vel­op­ment so far is the BNP an­nounce­ment urg­ing their sup­port­ers to vote for Boris John­son sec­ond pref­er­ence. What is it that they see in Boris John­son that makes them sup­port him?”

The 50-year-old Lib­eral Demo­crat, who has a de­gree in phi­los­o­phy, pol­i­tics and eco­nomics from Ox­ford Univer­sity, a diploma in crim­i­nol­ogy from Cam­bridge, and a Mas­ter’s in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion from War­wick Busi­ness School, has now just un­der three weeks left to over­take the fron­trun­ners in his City Hall bid.

But if he fails, then he may well be mak­ing that first trip to Is­rael next year.


Com­mu­nity visit: Brian Pad­dick at the Bren­ner Com­mu­nity Cen­tre in Stam­ford Hill re­cently

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