Paxman scares Brown and Cameron – but not our Nick Clegg!

Just read the Guardian piece on how both Gordon Brown and David Cameron have failed to respond to a Newsnight invitation to be interviewed by Jeremy Paxman. The deadline was today apparently.

Nick Clegg accepted straight off!

So – two of the three men who would be Prime Minister are obviously cowardy cowardy custards! Guess that leaves only one option then!

Quizzing the Port of London Authority

Go into City Hall to Chair the Transport Committee this morning. This morning we have the Port Authority of London coming to give evidence to the committee.

This little known authority is independent and self-financing – but as it has power over our waterway, the Thames, we wanted to put them into the public arena. As they emerged from the shadows of privacy – I am not sure what they made of their grilling.

The key charges against the authority (who everyone acknowledges do a good job on the whole) is that the Board is entirely white, middle-aged men and that their interest lies in the commercial – and not the community needs of the people who want to use the Thames for leisure, passenger transport etc.

Their argument was that it was skills that were needed at Board level that guided their choice of member. Given the hoo-ha from those having extreme difficulty engaging with them or getting them to focus on community priorities, it would seem that the one skill they didn’t think they needed was someone on the board who understood and would champion and drive forward the community agenda.

Followed by an interview by the Senior Salaries Review Board who were asking three ‘chairs’ of London Assembly committees what we thought about our roles, our workload and our salary.

Then back to Hornsey & Wood Green to knock on more sheltered housing doors. Have to do it during the day – as the elderly are very nervous once the evening draws on.

Pop round to see Andy Kershaw who is going to endorse me. Andy is passionate about defeating a pro-war MP. He has taped the Paxman interview with Blair which he plays to me and Neil (my agent). Andy is right – the one thing Paxman fails to ask is why Blair went to war at that point in time as opposed to before or waiting.

The evening is door knocking in Hornsey ward. Very warm on the doorsteps – and this even in one of the minority of wards which don’t have a Lib Dem councillor. Once again, see very little of Labour or Tory leaflets or canvassing. Most people say they’ve seen and heard plenty of my campaign but nothing of Labour. Good sign – and I’m sure due in large part to our Labour MP’s ultra-loyalist voting record, which has put off many Labour activists (not just Iraq, but tuition fees, PFI, foundation hospitals etc).

A rival for Paxman

Canvassing again with the ‘hit squad’. But today is nice and dry and I have a very pleasant time up and down Southwood Lawn Road. Much as before, several Labour supporters who won’t be voting Labour and several definite LibDems.

As I am chatting on one doorstep, my phone goes. I excuse myself and it is our national press office asking if I will step in for our Home Affairs Spokesperson Mark Oaten who can’t make the live TV interviews the next morning before the launch of our crime policies. It’s always one of those moments – you obviously want to do it, but it is quite nerve-racking. I say yes.

This means I have to cancel my plans to go to the NewRos celebrations at Ally Pally – as I have to study the brief and be up at 5am to get to SKY and ITV in time.

Home to study. My daughter pretends she is the interviewer. Watch out Paxman I say.

Highgate library

A burst of thunder and lightning and the snow blizzarded down. Within a really short time at least two inches of snow had fallen. I had to go out to give a short speech at Highgate Library to celebrate the publication of a new book on 100 Years of Highgate Library. I decided walking was much safer than driving and set off to virtually slide down the hills to the library. Amazingly quite a good number of people came and it was really pleasant.

A couple of facts from the book itself amused me.

In 1902 when the library first opened, 3,750 invitations were sent out to Highgate ratepayers to come to the opening. 2200 actually turned up. Imagine getting that level of response today!

Also – there was apparently a lot of fuss made when the site of the library was chosen – because it was in a posh area. Some things don’t change – as if everyone doesn’t have a right to have their library in a nice place…

Then I slogged up the hill home – wondering what on earth would happen in the Stroud Green by-election the next day. Would people brave the weather and come out and vote and if they didn’t, what would that do to the result?

Get home to watch slanging match between Alistair Campbell and Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight over the Hutton report. As pleasing as it was to see Jeremy on the run – I thought Alistair Campbell really vicious and triumphalist given the gift Hutton had just delivered Labour.

Anyway – think they have mishandled this and whilst may have won the battle will lose the war of public opinion.