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'Doreen, London mayor role is a trap'

WISDOM: Baroness Lawrence should stay away from political dirty tricks

ACCORDING TO media reports, Doreen Lawrence is tipped to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London. Don’t do it, Doreen. Don’t do it, I say.

Let’s be real now. I have been a supporter of the Lawrence family’s search for justice for 20 years now. And I was one of the first people to cheer Baroness Lawrence’s elevation to the House of Lords. But the dirty business of politics is another thing altogether.

Whereas in the Lords Doreen Lawrence’s wisdom and experience is a most welcome addition to the intellectual debate that goes on in the upper chamber, being the mayor of a metropolis like London is a minefield of ‘inauthenticity’. I know what I am talking about. I was president of my union at university.

That is exactly like being the mayor of a city - except on a much smaller scale of course. And I can tell you that it’s no cakewalk, especially when the gloves come off and your opponents drag you down in the gutter to trade blows on all the issues that are important to ordinary residents.

To fight back you have to be as dirty as your detractors, if not more so. And the outcome is that you become somebody who is not particularly a nice person. It goes to your head, especially when you’re winning. And when you’re losing you get paranoid that everybody around you is against you.

Look what happened to Lee Jasper - and he wasn’t even mayor. But he was the closest thing a black person has come to being Mayor of London.

He was Ken Livingstone’s right hand man and on the days when Ken was off in the Far East trying to learn from their congestion systems and trying to win the Olympics for London 2012, Lee Jasper was effectively the don in London.

It did go to your head, Lee. I’m sorry, but it did. Those around you won’t tell you that, but I who have known you since your days as a radical street agitator (which I concede you have now reverted to) can tell you that during your days as don of County Hall you were top ranking and it went to your head. You weren’t the same person.

And then when the crap hit the fan and the London Evening Standard plotted your downfall, you were as low as anyone can go outside bereavement. And you haven’t gotten over it. I know you won’t like me to say this, but it’s true. You are a case study on what can happen to a black man or woman who is fortunate enough to be able to wield political power in this country. I’m just not confident that Doreen Lawrence is cut out for that.

Why should she be? It was the tragedy of her son’s murder that shoved her into the political spotlight; not the ability to withstand the barrage of invectives that comes with the cut-throat business. And I don’t doubt that her Labour Party backers see her as a figurehead rather than a dirty fingered politician in putting her up as a candidate for the mayoralty of the world’s greatest city. But there will be a demand from the capital’s 10 million residents for her to be more than a figurehead and, when the crap hits the fan, being a figurehead won’t suffice - you will get the blame.

There are real and painful decisions to be made by this great city of ours and I would urge Doreen not to be suckered in by a political party desperate to find a candidate with street cred to take on the Tories for the job. Leave it alone, Mrs Lawrence, because it might be a political role too far for you.

Don’t do it, Doreen. They’re just setting you up to fail.

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