Brian Paddick's new website: take a look

Good to see that Brian Paddick’s new website is up and running – and worth waiting for.

Having had a look at Ken and Boris’s sites – Brian is now definitely winning the website battle! It’s direct, well-designed, colourful and easy to use.

Looking at Ken’s very dull, very drab effort, strikes me he feels that he has so much publicity through the state publicity machine that he doesn’t feel the need to put anything into his website. Lord knows he has plastered his face on enough things during his term of office – albeit with ‘Mayor of London’ as opposed to ‘Ken’ as the wording – to make sure his beautiful mug is burned into our brains at every turn. As for Boris – well his website at least shows willing – in that you can see effort has been made and thought has been given – but it’s not very interesting with a format that is too intense in terms of content on the home page etc.

Local news: play areas, 603 bus and Post Offices

Just been updating my website with news stories from the last week, and here are three highlights:

Ten most popular blog postings (1st quarter, 2008)

End of another quarter – so it’s time for another top ten list. Here are the blog postings which have proved most popular with readers of my blog in the last three months:

10. The interesting case of Seb Green – the admirable way someone has reacted when things go wrong.

9. I’m the bride – at last! – blogging prize, not wedding bells. But nearly as exciting.

8. One of my favourite topics for blog postings – about winning an election! This time Rachel Allison was the much deserving winner in the Highgate by-election.

7. I’ve blogged quite extensively over the last three months about the scandals surrounding Ken Livingstone and the funding of projects in London – so no great surprise that this posting about Ethnic Mutual’s grant made it into the top ten.

6. Low Copy Number DNA – one of those postings which keeps on getting traffic as, each time there’s a crime involving DNA records, people go hunting on the internet for more about this technique.

5. Mr Speaker doesn’t speak for me – I disagree with the Speaker’s decision to try to keep things secret.

4. Lots of online coverage for me first steps using Twitter.

3. A (then) Conservative councillor calls for sterilisation of people whose lifestyles he doesn’t agree with – An appalling insult to mothers and fathers.

2. Our sexist monarchy: why in the modern world should men still be able to elbow aside women in the line of succession to the Throne?

1. And in at number one: Brian Paddick comes calling. Somewhat surprised to see this at number one as it wasn’t the most interesting or exciting posting – at least in my eyes!

(Click to see the previous top tens).

Brian Paddick on the campaign trail in Haringey

Lynne Featherstone, Brian Paddick and Monica Whyte promote a green alternative to plastic bagsBrian Paddick came to Hornsey & Wood Green and we visited a number of hotspots. The area is becoming a bit of a regular haunt of his – he was here during the Highgate by-election too. This time I showed him Wood Green cross – which is the area that local residents in the Wood Green area are most worried about crime wise. There stands a disused and vacant and deteriorating police box. Originally conceived and procured to ease peoples’ fears by having police on the spot – it never really opened for enough hours for anyone to have the slightest confidence that there would be a police person in the box. So it failed. Such a stupid waste for what was a good idea.

We went to Alexandra Park station (Oyster needed / on the way); Ally Pally – to show Brian the historic building which Labour Haringey first built up a debt (for which we locals had to pay) and then tried to sell on in a highly controversial deal – stopped at the moment by a local group taking Labour Haringey to court; then off to the 603 bus route in Muswell Hill where Brian pledged to extend the operating hours of this much loved route.

In Crouch End he promoted the Crouch End Traders ‘Bag for Life’ and posed in front of the Clock Tower whilst he did various interviews with the local press. He tried to squeeze in Weston Park Post Office – but in the end Monica Whyte (GLA candidate and local councillor) and David Winskill (local councillor) went there to meet a disabled lady whose life will be ruined if Labour’s proposed Post Office closures go ahead.

And I went to visit Bonnie – living with husband, two children and sister in two rooms in terrible state – but more of this story in a while. I am on the warpath for this one.

I've joined the Twittering classes

Just started using Twitter – after all, if it’s good enough for Mayor candidate Brian Paddick, it should be good enough for me too!

If you’ve never heard of it before – Twitter is a free service that is sort of a cross between mini-blog updates and Facebook style status messages. You can sign up to follow anyone you want and then get their updates direct to your mobile phone – free.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lfeatherstone and Brian is at http://twitter.com/brianpaddick

PS I couldn’t see any other MP using Twitter, so I think I might be the first – but let me know if that’s wrong! (Update: the answer seems to be I’m sort of the first – see Puffbox for details.)

Tony Travers on the London elections

Have just finished doing The Westminster Hour for Radio 4. Caught a small part of the interview with Tony Travers (LSE expert on London government etc) on the London Mayor elections – and liked this bit!

Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat who was a senior police officer in the Metropolitan Police, has actually fought an excellent campaign, probably the best of the three of the leading candidates.

Hear, hear! You can back Brian on Facebook or sign up for news from his campaign on the website.

Great boost for Brian Paddick as top Tory backs him

My inbox brings the news that Dirk Hazell, former Chair of London’s Conservative Party has joined the Liberal Democrats and is backing Brian Paddick:

“London needs real change. I left the Tories because they are as dodgy as Labour, because their environmental pretensions are phoney and because their Europhobia harms Britain.

“I joined the Liberal Democrats because only Liberal Democrat principles and only principled Liberal Democrats like Brian Paddick will make Britain fair, free and green.”

What did I previously think about Brian Paddick?

From my latest column for the Ham & High:

The risk with keeping a public diary (as I do with my blog) 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 serving in the police and I was serving 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 therefore my words would get quoted back at me or Brian for evermore – or at least, until polling day.

Read on to see what I found when I went back to look…

What I'll be up to on Friday on Facebook

Had an invite on Facebook to take part in Brian Paddick’s ‘Facebook Friday’. The idea is to get supporters of Brian (like myself!) at our computers on Friday to have a mass drive to invite people we know to sign up as fans of his on Facebook.

I have no idea how many people are likely to get signed up this way – but it’s got to be a good idea to use such a popular medium as Facebook to try to connect more people with Brian, and indeed with politics in general – especially in a city such as London with such a huge number of people using Facebook, particularly amongst the younger part of the age range, where there is usually less interest in conventional party politics.

My own personal experience is that many people have a negative view of politics and politicians overall, but give them personal contact with a politician and they very often (though not for all politicians!) end up with a much more positive view of that person.

It’s the personal contact that really matters. Social networking sites like Facebook have a useful role to play in making those personal contacts – which is one reason why I’ve been using it myself for a while now. So – let’s hope Friday is a success!

If you’re intending to vote for Brian, I hope you too sign up as a fan of Brian Paddick on Facebook on Friday (and if you’re not on Facebook, you can sign up on his website).

A brief digression from black cabs into the place of market forces

London black cabGlad to see Brian Paddick launch his ten-point plan for London’s black cabs today (and to see the good BBC coverage!).

Black cabs are important in themselves – and some of the measures in the plan, such as rephasing of traffic lights – would directly benefit many other people too. But there is also a wider point here, which is one about a general approach to changing the world (if that isn’t too grand a phrase!).

Influencing how the black cab trade performs isn’t just important in its own right, but – given their key role in transport overall – it has all sorts of knock-on effects, including on the minicab market and also on people’s willingness to use public transport (people often more willing if you know that late at night you can get a safe and reasonably priced cab back).

It’s this attitude of working with one part of the market which you can influence, and then letting the effects of doing that ripple out into all sorts of others corners of activity which I think we need to see more of.

Too often the political debate is polarised between market forces – good or bad. Well – my view is that wishing market forces weren’t there is a bit like wishing that English weather didn’t feature rain. The point isn’t to wish them away – or to think that they are always right and never to be touched – but rather to exploit them for desirable ends by guiding them through influencing the rules under which the market operates.

For example – opening up information to consumers about the health impacts of different foods on sale in supermarkets can and is having – via the power of consumer choice and the market forces which come with that – a huge impact, without having to get government into regulating the contents of your or mine lunch tomorrow. We far more of this sort of nimble government – exploiting market forces and letting their power push us, as individuals and as a society, into more rather than less desirable directions.