Is London ready for its first overtly homosexual mayor? More to the point, is it ready for its first ex-police officer mayor? The answer to the first question may be yes, the second...probably not.
Brian Paddick served with the Metropolitan Police rising to the rank of Commander, but unlike Commander Ali Dizaei, he ended his career with a pension and without blotting his copybook. One of the first of the new breed of graduate coppers, he holds a BA in criminology - but Gerry Gable holds an MA in that discipline, so maybe he shouldn't crow too loudly on that account.
As a serving police officer he made a name for himself by coming out as homosexual - no jokes about bent coppers please - and also by instructing his subordinates to cut cannabis users plenty of slack. At the time, this policy was considered controversial, but now it is one that even more senior police officers and the occasional judge are talking about, on both sides of the Atlantic.
The two front runners for Mayor are the incumbent Boris Johnson and his predecessor Ken Livingstone, not necessarily in that order. Johnson's defeat of the popular Livingstone was something of a surprise, so too has been the way he has done the job, namely a lot better than most of his detractors thought he would, and like Ken he seems to have the common touch in spite of his far from working class roots.
Where does that leave Paddick? Although an outsider it would not take a miracle for him to win, certainly on personality he scores quite well. Although he does of course pay lip service to so-called gay rights, he doesn't wear his sexuality on his sleeve like Peter Tatchell, so he has not alienated the public, and it is not likely to become an issue except with the sort of people who would never vote for his or the Liberal Democrats' policies anyway. And his policies are?
For the most part he is concentrating on law and order, like rape. Take a look.
Ignore the staged photograph and concentrate on the statistics and the rhetoric behind them. Where have you seen this sort of thing before? The first thing to note is that when he says there were “3,312 rapes” recorded by the Metropolitan Police last year, this means allegations. And as only 219 people were convicted - which is not the same thing as 219 convictions - the clear inference is that the courts are not doing their job.
When he says he will combat the common myths about rape, one myth he appears to have omitted is the one that says every allegation of rape is true. Clearly this is not and never has been the case, but as he is unlikely ever to be on the receiving end of a false rape allegation, this is probably something that doesn't give him too many headaches.
The obvious implication of this methodology is that we need more powers to deal with rape allegations, maybe by reversing the burden of proof? Although it is unlikely he would go this far, there are some people who would.
If this is playing to wimmin's groups, his policy regarding other crime is playing to the gallery. Although he doesn't specify which crimes and criminals these are, they can clearly only be non-violent crimes such as burglaries, because he wants to see restorative justice implemented and a wider community payback scheme.
“Many criminals get up late, laze around home all day and rarely go out – except to commit crime. Their worst nightmare is what most of us do every day – having to get up early, travel across London and do a hard days work.”
Hard work is not a virtue in itself; criminals can work hard too; a burglar may be extremely industrious, but society can do without that sort of work ethic.
“Payback sentences can teach people the self-discipline they need to get back into work as well as reconnecting offenders with their community.”
This is cloud cuckooland stuff, and here we see the Cambridge graduate rather than the ex-police officer talking, because the sort of people he is alluding to here are the lumpen proletariat of the criminal classes. Most of them simply do not have the ability to earn a living wage in the highly technologically advanced societies of the Western world, and then there is the little matter of criminal records, which with a few exceptions are a bar to all but the most menial of employment.
It is probably too late to introduce Brian Paddick to Major Douglas, but it is doubtful in any case if as Mayor he would have the power to implement the changes for which he calls.
Where does all this leave Londoners? Hopefully with either Boris or better still Ken; Livingstone used to be known as Red Ken, but he has been in politics long enough to realise that it is one thing to promise the Earth and another to deliver it. Boris appears never to have laboured under that delusion; Paddick is far from radical, and would be a fairly safe pair of hands, but Londoners have seen it all before, and doubtless they will choose one or other of the proven safe pair of hands on May 3.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com