Camden Councillor Luisa Porritt has been confirmed as the Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor, bringing to an end a selection process marred by the removal of her only rival from an earlier shortlist of potential nominees.
London-born Porritt, 33, a former MEP who became leader of her party’s group on Camden Council last month, said, “The pandemic will change our city forever. We need big ideas and urgent action to rise to the challenge” and that a “liberal London” would be one in which “the 600 neighbourhoods that make up our capital lead the way”. She pledged to put “homes in the heart of the city”, to “reinvent high streets for the future” and to “renew every area in London to become thriving, green and affordable places to live and work”.
Policy development is likely to draw on recent debates about a more economically decentralised and locally-focussed London emerging as a result of Covid-19. Porritt’s campaign website includes pledges to seek powers to convert Central London offices into affordable homes, scrap the Silvertown Tunnel project and encourage more neighbourhood co-working spaces for a future of more flexible employment practices.
Porritt’s unopposed selection follows the suspension of Geeta Sidhu-Robb after footage from the 1997 general election campaign surfaced showing her, then a Conservative, urging Muslims in Blackburn not to vote for Labour candidate Jack Straw because he has Jewish ancestry.
London Lib Dem members voted to confirm Porritt as candidate, rather than re-open the selection process. The Lib Dem London region says that Sidhu-Robb’s suspension is still in place while an investigation takes place.
Porritt succeeds the Lib Dems’ original mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita, who withdrew from the race in July citing financial pressures, though following Sidhu-Robb’s suspension she revealed that she had left the party in August and that her decision to stand down as its candidate had also resulted from “serious issues” with its London region, which had meant “I couldn’t run the campaign I wanted to”.
Lib Dem national leader Sir Ed Davey, who is also MP for Kingston & Surbiton, expressed delight at Porritt’s selection and claimed her gaining a council seat at the expense of a Tory in 2018 shows she “knows how to defy the odds and win”.
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