London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon today became the first Liberal Democrat to declare an interest in succeeding Boris Johnson when he steps down as Mayor next year.
Johnson’s eight-year reign at City Hall ends in May and the past few weeks have seen a raft of Green, Labour and Conservative politicians announce that they’re seeking their parties’ nominations to become London’s third directly elected leader.
However the Liberal Democrats, which were left with just a single London MP at last month’s general election have so far lacked any contenders for what is one of the UK’s biggest political posts.
Pidgeon’s candidacy, which has been widely expected, gives her party an experienced voice in the growing debate about the capital’s future and how best to address the challenges its residents face.
Like the incumbent mayor, Pidgeon entered City Hall at the 2008 election and has used her time on the Assembly to push a number of issues, including tackling knife crime and the affordable fares, which are likely to take centre place in her mayoral manifesto.
She’s also served on a number of high-profile Assembly committees and is currently Deputy Chair of both the police & crime and transport committees.
Between 1998 and 2010 Pidgeon served as a councillor in Southwark where she served as Executive Member for Children’s Services and Education and deputy council leader.
In 2010 she unsuccessfully stood against Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey and was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours.
Her mayoral bid has already won the support of former Lib Dem MP Baroness Susan Kramer who was the party’s candidate at the first ever mayoral election in 2000, and Lynne Featherstone the former Hornsey and Wood Green MP.
Pidgeon launched her campaign in Islington with a vow to boost access to affordable childcare and support parents who wanted to work.
She said: “We have some of the highest childcare costs in Western Europe and it’s not sustainable. For everybody to have an equal shot at a career and the chance to work we have to tackle the issue of childcare, ensuring it is available and affordable for parents in London. As a working mum this is of huge importance to me and will play a key part of my Mayoral campaign should I be selected”
Baroness Kramer predicted Pidgeon would bring “drive and experience” to the role of Mayor while Mrs Featherstone said: “As a former London AM and equality campaigner, I am delighted that Caroline will be bringing her expertise to bear in this campaign. She would make an excellent Mayor.”