Caroline Pidgeon is going to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor – large numbers of the party’s members respect and, in some cases, adore her so there’s close to zero chance of them voting to re-open nominations.
Pidgeon is a sensible, hardened campaigner so we can be certain that she doesn’t expect to win the Mayoral election, but she will be hoping to increase her party’s number of London Assembly members.
Thanks to some truly terrible campaigning by Brian Paddick, the party fell from five AMs to three at the 2008 election and emerged from the 2012 race having only just scrapped together enough votes to win two seats.
Pidgeon very nearly spent four years sitting in a group of one.
Unlike Paddick who had no personal investment in the Assembly election, Pidgeon is hoping to be selected as the party’s number one Assembly candidate in addition to its Mayoral hopeful.
She’s already spoken about how being placed back at the top of the Assembly slate would allow her to continue pushing her policies and the party’s values long after the election is over.
What she’s offering members is a four year commitment, not a quick drive-by campaign which ends with the party enfeebled but the candidate ennobled.
On a platform alongside Labour and Conservative mayoral hopefuls with no experience of City Hall and, in some cases, undeniable gaps in their knowledge of how it works, Pidgeon will be the voice of experience.
She will be able to correct her rivals when they’re wrong and point out when their own party failed to support policies identical to those they now espouse.
That experience will help her stand out and ensure that voters, regardless of what negativity they might still hold towards Nick Clegg and the national party, will notice and hear her.
Those qualities will be irksome and annoying to the Tory and Labour candidates, and they could be ruinously dangerous to London’s Greens.
In 2012 the impact of Lord Paddick’s lacklustre campaign was heightened by the presence of 12 year London Assembly veteran Jenny Jones who was able to repeatedly out-perform him by using her knowledge and experience to point out when both Ken and Boris were being less than straight with the electorate.
The result was that the Greens became City Hall’s third biggest party (by vote share), relegating the LibDems into fourth place in both the Assembly and Mayoral races.
Jones isn’t standing in 2016, in fact she and colleague Darren Johnson are stepping down from the Assembly, taking with them their deep knowledge of how City Hall works.
Green party members have a strong field of would-be Mayors to pick from but only one capable of matching Pidgeon’s knowledge and experience – Tom Chance who has worked alongside Darren and Jenny at City Hall and, like Pidgeon, knows what’s possible and what is mere fantasy.
With many in the party keen to ensure the Green surge finally takes hold, and the clear need to ensure they don’t become eclipsed by Labour, Tory and the LibDems, don’t be too surprised if London’s Greens name Chance as their Mayoral runner next month.