As a Liberal Democrat Member in London, I received details of the runners and riders for the race to be the Mayoral Candidate in 2012. There are four runners, three of whom are known to me and an interesting outsider.
In no particular order:
Lembit Opik: - ex-MP, minor celebrity and general eccentric. Probably the best known and most recognised of the potential candidates but regarded frankly as a "joke". In a contest where every other candidate will be struggling to get a look-in next to Boris and Ken, Lembit can do it. He is the "sacrificial lamb" candidate - someone who can come a bad third while more serious candidates wait for more favourable conditions as it seems probable that NEITHER Boris nor Ken will be in the field in 2016.
Brian Paddick: I saw Brian on the Saturday evening before the 2008 Mayoral election camapigning in Soho and he cut a pretty desolate figure to be honest. A deeply intelligent and honest man, he lacks the political nous to be a candidate in this kind of media-frenzy election. He'd be the perfect candidate for a suburban council by-election.
Mike Tuffrey: long-time Councillor and GLA Member. It's a pity Caroline Pidgeon isn't in the running (she would be my ideal candidate in 2016) and he is as near to a London political presence as anyone in the field. To be honest, he looks like Lembit to me so on that basis we might as well choose Lembit. Mike is clearly the Establishment Candidate.
Brian Haley: unknown to me and the "dark horse" in evety sense but his election address reads very well. He's an ex-Labour Councillor but he sounds like a committed Liberal Democrat and would be a useful contrast to Boris and Ken.
So, how will I vote? At the moment, I'm inclined to give Haley my first preference and Lembit Opik my second preference. We may as well have a candidate who is different to Boris and Ken and with Lembit hamstrung by his own celebrity, I'm going to give Brian Haley a chance to be our candidate and articulate the messages and rise above the boring Ken/Boris double act.