Johann Hari interviews Brian Paddick


by Rumbold
20th April, 2008 at 8:58 pm    

Johann Hari has recently interviewed the three main mayoral candidates, in a magazine for homosexuals. Ken Livingstone’s most newsworthy comment was to state his continued support for Yusuf al Qaradawi, while Boris Johnson’s revealed little, save that he still appears fairly shambolic. For me, Brian Paddick’s promised to be the most interesting, as he lacks the performing ability of Johnson or Livingstone, yet has more experience of the world beyond politics. Sadly, he comes across badly in this interview.

While he is a gay man being interviewed for a magazine with homosexual readers, I was still very disappointed that he stated that homosexuals are somehow more at risk from crime because they like to go out at night:

“Crime is an issue for everybody but it is particularly an issue for the LGBT community – not just in terms of homophobic crime, but because we like to party, and I’ve lost count of the number of friends who’ve come out of the Shadow Lounge a little bit the worse for wear at two o’clock in the morning and have been mugged and marched round to the cash point at knife point.”

And he continued on this theme about how homosexuals are party animals who are somehow apart from the rest of society:

“There’s no point being a black judge or an openly gay police officer if you behave like a straight white man. And even if every time I go to Barcode in Vauxhall, which is my local, a diary item appears in one newspaper or another saying that I have been dancing without a shirt on, that isn’t going to stop me. Whether I’m mayor or not, I’m going to go on living a life as a gay man, because that’s what I am and I’m very proud of that.”

How does a straight white man behave Brian? Your two challengers are hardly shrinking violets. Brian Paddick has fallen into the trap of categorizing people by one identity. Saying that someone thinks or acts in a certain way because of their race, religion or sexuality helps to reinforce artifical divisions between various people. Some homosexuals do like to party, others do not, while some are indifferent. You would expect Brian Paddick to know this, or at least be aware of the effect of his words.

Worst of all was his utter failure to propose any solutions to combat homophobic bullying in schools. Given that he was a gay authority figure, you would think that he would have some practical ideas. Instead when asked he told a story about his experiences of being bullied at school, so Johann Hari had to press him again:

JH: What can we practically do about this?

BP: I don’t think the Mayor is vocal enough on these sorts of issues. You know, okay, he and I formed were on the lead float at Pride – Ken Livingstone, I and Shirley Bassey, or at least a wax image of Shirley Bassey, were on the lead float of Pride, and it’s all very well for him showing his support like that, but he needs to be vocal in supporting groups like Schools Out, Sue Sanders. He’s very pro-Caribbean community in his rhetoric and yet he’s not said a word about disproportionality in stop and search by the police. He is a superficial supporter of minority groups. When you come down to making a real difference to the day to day lives of LGBT people, then I don’t think Ken’s done very much.”

Before publishing his three interviews, Johann Hari treated us to his assessment of the candidates. On Brian Paddick, sadly, he was spot on:

“The Lib Dem candidate Brian Paddick isn’t embarrassed to appeal to the gay vote as One of Us. He says, “You know, we went through decades of being targeted by the police. Now it’s pay back time.” He speaks about gay issues as a man who has fought through them all: he pledges to crack down on homophobic bullying in schools, as a survivor of it himself, and he promises to crack open homophobia in the police, as a man who rose through it to be Number Two in the Met. He has moving stories and some fresh ideas – but at times they are sketchy. When I ask him specifically what we should be doing about homophobic bullying, he keeps vaguely saying we must “do more.” Ken, by contrast, talked on this issue about the specific organisations he wants to fund, and the projects he wants to pursue.”


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  1. El Cid — on 20th April, 2008 at 9:40 pm  

    Oh for crying out loud Rumbold!
    I had decided to vote for him. Me, vote for a liberal — unheard of.
    What am I going to do now?
    That pigeon-holing of straight men vs gay men is just so annoying. What a wanker.
    What am I going to do now, eh?

    As for Johan Hari’s: We now make up fifteen percent of this swirling, whirling world city’s electorate
    You sure? What a load of bollocks. Get over yourselves.

  2. halima — on 20th April, 2008 at 10:52 pm  

    I am confused – what was the point of this article?

    It’s right that all parties should do more to vocalise support for LBGT. If the candidate in particular didn’t defend this point well, others should.

    It would be good to refer to hetereosexuals such as myself as hetereosexual, and not straight, which would follow that gay people are homosexual and not whatever the opposite of ‘straight’ is.

  3. Leon — on 21st April, 2008 at 12:18 am  

    Hmmm I think it’s time I post up another article negative about Bojo so nobody gets the wrong impression about PP’s political slant!

  4. MaidMarian — on 21st April, 2008 at 8:30 am  

    Worst thing is that when he announced he would stand I would have sworn blind that Paddick would have been a good ‘un.

    A serious let-down.

    Shows what I know!!!

  5. Letters From A Tory — on 21st April, 2008 at 10:01 am  

    Paddick is a waste of space. Why did the Lib Dems put up a candidate who lacks any charisma, style or confidence?

    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

  6. Rumbold — on 21st April, 2008 at 10:23 am  

    El Cid:

    I too was annoyed, as I was torn between him and Boris. Not anymore though.

    Halima:

    “I am confused – what was the point of this article?”

    Most of the attention in this race has focused on Boris and Ken, and I thought this was interesting because it actually highlighted some of Brian Paddick’s policies and beliefs, in one of the areas which you would expect him to be strongest in.

    Leon:

    “Hmmm I think it’s time I post up another article negative about Bojo so nobody gets the wrong impression about PP’s political slant!”

    Heh. Given that most of Pickled Politics’ mayoral articles have been anti-Boris, I don’t think that anyone will see us as a pro-Boris blog. Which is good; I like the fact that the site does not support one candidate, and that all three of the main candidates have come in for criticism.

  7. halima — on 21st April, 2008 at 4:32 pm  

    Rumbold

    Thanks for clarifying – giving coverage to all candidates is good thing.

    I was confused about other things like your take on his speech. I understand him loud and clear.

    Brian P is saying gay men are more at risk to crime for X and Y reasons, in the same way that the biggest victims of street crime generally are young men for X and Y reasons.

    So I don’t see how his point is not valid. Perhaps as you say he didn’t make them well – but I thought they are sensible points. When a gay man is attacked outside a gay bar as he is leaving, he isn’t being attacked for being a man. When a Muslim woman is spat at in a bus stop or has her hijab yanked, it isn’t because she is a woman. Some parts of our social identities invite more hostility than others.

    Needless to say, for me, as a young black/asian woman, standing at a bus stop in Eltham in Woolwich strikes me with fear. For my white friends this is a non-issue. Same bus stop but victim was likely to be different.

  8. sonia — on 21st April, 2008 at 4:41 pm  

    “but because we like to party, and I’ve lost count of the number of friends who’ve come out of the Shadow Lounge a little bit the worse for wear at two o’clock in the morning”

    ?? i dont know anything about this shadow lounge place but is he implying “straight people” don’t like to party and fall out of bars at 2 o clock? Goodness, that sounds very odd, where has this man been living? What a statement to make.

  9. halima — on 21st April, 2008 at 5:45 pm  

    It’s a very posh gay cocktail bar in Soho. I guess he’s suggesting homophobes hang outside this very well known bar expecting to bash a few gay people .. There are other very posh cocktail bars in Soho that perhaps don’t get the same level of crime reporting against their punters …

  10. Rohin — on 21st April, 2008 at 7:53 pm  

    As an aside, does “experience outside politics” mean you’ll be a better mayor? I’ve heard several people say this as a pro in favour of Paddick, but I can’t see a definite link.

    Which is good; I like the fact that the site does not support one candidate, and that all three of the main candidates have come in for criticism.

    No…I don’t think so. I may not comment much but I still read most of what’s posted on PP and I think Boris has come in for more criticism than Livingstone by a way. But I haven’t objectively measured this.

  11. Rumbold — on 21st April, 2008 at 8:34 pm  

    Halima:

    “So I don’t see how his point is not valid. Perhaps as you say he didn’t make them well – but I thought they are sensible points. When a gay man is attacked outside a gay bar as he is leaving, he isn’t being attacked for being a man. When a Muslim woman is spat at in a bus stop or has her hijab yanked, it isn’t because she is a woman. Some parts of our social identities invite more hostility than others.”

    In town centres, especially those with clubs, there are plenty of late night violent incidences. Often these are random, brought about by drunken behaviour. Therefore I am not sure that Brian Paddick’s description was apt; there are so many fights around clubs, and I don’t know if gay clubs suffer more (not to say that there aren’t ever any racist or homophobic attacks, but his choice of a club to illustrate violence was a bad one).

    Rohin:

    “As an aside, does “experience outside politics” mean you’ll be a better mayor?”

    On balance, yes. People with experience outside the political world have greater experience of the real world, which in genereal is a good thing because it gives them a different perspective on matters.

    “No…I don’t think so. I may not comment much but I still read most of what’s posted on PP and I think Boris has come in for more criticism than Livingstone by a way. But I haven’t objectively measured this.”

    Boris has come in for the most criticism, but Brian and Ken have taken flak as well.

  12. Refresh — on 22nd April, 2008 at 2:21 am  

    I do agree in general that experience outside politics is a benefit. But its not reasonable to assume that a lifetime within the Met. is really connecting you with the life the rest of us lead.

    My guess is Lib Dems saw Ray Mallon did quite well up north and thought it was worth a shot – but no. Not in this case.

    Leon, you don’t really need to do much to ‘balance’ things out – just post Hari’s interview with Boris Johnson. It is far more revealing about Cameron’s desperation. Its Yeltsin all over again.

  13. halima — on 22nd April, 2008 at 6:43 am  

    Rumbold

    Sure everyone knows about drunken violence in UK town centres.

    ‘his choice of a club to illustrate violence was a bad one’

    It wasn’t a bad one. It is notoriously well known for being a posh gay cocktail bar .

    But i guess if the audience didn’t get this then it wasn’t an effective example – trouble is generally people know little about gay london life.

  14. Rumbold — on 22nd April, 2008 at 11:42 am  

    Refresh:

    “I do agree in general that experience outside politics is a benefit. But its not reasonable to assume that a lifetime within the Met. is really connecting you with the life the rest of us lead.”

    I still think it is better that politcians enter politics only after a reasonable career outside the political sphere.

    “Leon, you don’t really need to do much to ‘balance’ things out – just post Hari’s interview with Boris Johnson.”

    I would have done that if I have thought that there was anything new or interesting in it.

    Halima:

    I meant that it was a bad example to suggest that somehow gay clubs suffer much worse violence than non-gay clubs, and that somehow a drunken fight at night is unique to the gay scene.

  15. Refresh — on 22nd April, 2008 at 12:14 pm  

    Rumbold

    ‘I would have done that if I have thought that there was anything new or interesting in it.

    It is the most interesting of the lot. To have at this late stage, Boris come across as the clown that he is.

    What is really interesting is that Boris could have even got close to Ken in the polls let alonge be 15 points ahead at one stage.

    So it is that that we should analyse. Who has been behind it, and how do we see them off. AFTER the election.

    I can’t imagine anyone who would not be embarrassed by their stance vis-a-vis Boris.

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