LONDON ELECTION 2012: Mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita criticises lack of media coverage


Benita, currently in joint fourth position with Lib Dem Brian Paddick, was considered a minority candidate and excluded from Sky News and BBC debates.


By Natasha Adkins and Helen Wright

Independent mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita has criticised the lack of media coverage she received in the run up to the London election.

Benita, born and raised in Wimbledon, was considered a minority candidate and excluded from Sky News and BBC debates.

Having launched her campaign in January she currently stands in joint fourth position with Liberal Democrat candidate, Brian Paddick.

She said: “I am feeling over the moon. I don’t think anybody thought that we could achieve what we have achieved, and to do it without publicity.

“The legacy for me has to be changing the broadcasting rules, they are out of date.

“It cannot be right that official candidates are not given publicity.”

Benita has had a senior career in Government for 15 years, in departments including the treasury and Cabinet Office, and set out to be a credible alternative for voters disillusioned by party politics.

She said: “The fact I am an independent people really seemed to like.

“I was really frustrated that the media didn’t pick up on my policies. I wrote the manifesto myself, every word of it.”

Unlike other party affiliated candidates, Benita centred her campaign on the people of London.

While campaigning Benita built up a strong support network concentrated on groups and organizations that ignored by traditional candidates, saying the support she has received has been overwhelming. 

She spent a lot of time visiting youth groups, ethnic minority groups and war veterans among others, who told her they felt their voices weren’t getting heard.

Her promise to make education a priority was challenged by other candidates, who questioned if that was the Mayor’s role.  

She responded: “The education policy shows that you can do different things, people challenged me saying mayors don’t usually do that but why don’t they.

“I have had support from all over, people who would usually vote labour and people who would usually vote conservative.”

Turnout for the election has been disparaging across London, many boroughs registering below 40%.

Benita said: “This is disappointing, the message needs to be put out there that things can be different, it is not just about party politics.”

Benita thinks the mayoral position should not be allied to a political party saying that party baggage and history puts voters off and gets in the way of what is best for London. 

At the start of her campaign Benita aimed to run a positive campaign, but last month blasted Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone, christening them ‘BorKen’.

“Boris has just published his report that says he delivered on 90% of his pledges, and I don’t agree with that,” she said.

“I’ve looked at a lot of what he said he would do when he came in, and I don’t think he has delivered on them. 

“I think he promises a lot but doesn’t deliver on that all the time.” 

She also added: “When I look around though, at them and the other candidates, what they don’t do for me is represent the London I know and love.”

She has received positive write-ups from the national press, with The Times calling her ‘a refreshing presence’, and support from Jonathan Ross and Janet Street Porter.

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