The cynics among us will say students aren't interested in politics anymore. They condescend that the youth of today are more interested in Simon Cowell's latest retch-worthy attempt to kill off music as an art form once and for all, and in trying to breed with their cohabitants, than in a trivial matter like the London Mayoralty.
Well, if Brian Paddick's slot at the University of London Union debates last week was anything to go by, they're very, very right.
Showing up to the Lib Dem candidate's hustings, fashionably late, I felt like I'd stumbled onto an underground poker game while looking for the bathroom. The dozen or so audience members and one attempted mayor stopped talking and looked up. I resisted the urge to splutter an awkward apology and took a seat next to a young man casually eating a large ice cream.
Routinely, I see larger (and more attentive) crowds in Camden chip shops at 2am. The place was quiet enough to hear a mouse flop ignominiously out of a mayoral race.
Maybe this outburst of absenteeism was because of the Lib Dems' perceived betrayal of their student constituency over tuition fees; maybe because they hopped into governmental bed with the Tories with the enthusiasm of an Inbetweener on holiday; or maybe it was just Friday afternoon.
It could also have been a pragmatic recognition that, let's be honest, Brian probably isn't going to be the next Mayor of London.
The last time the former copper faced off against Livingstone and Johnson, in 2008, he polled a distant third and won a grand total of zero boroughs. Later that year, Paddick traded the electoral wilderness for an actual wilderness, appearing on reality show I'm a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here!, where he finished an inglorious seventh. Modern London is a byword for diversity and plurality, but when it comes to the mayoralty, there are just two camps.
This is a shame, because Paddick has valuable contributions to make on matters of great interest to young people.
Naturally, policing took up a large portion of the agenda - Paddick was a serving officer during the Brixton riots in the eighties, so is well-placed to a city where people are willing to commit violent criminality for Basmati rice.
The Lib Dem candidate thinks the police need to take some blame for sparking the riots and rethink stop-and-search, as part of a wider strategy to win back public trust. Instead of increasing police numbers, he promised to focus existing resources on 'what local people think is important', polling households for their crime priorities.
To Paddick, controversially, this doesn't include arresting people for cannabis. Arguing that 'we should be able to do whatever we want so long as it doesn't hurt other people', he denounced the concept of the War on Drugs and the drug classification regime. His preferred approach is a two-prong strategy of compassion and crackdown - 'look after the addicts and screw the dealers'.
When it came to the other candidates, he bit his tongue. Probably on instruction from the party elite, who don't want to see things heat up in Cabinet over a race they can't win, Paddick seemed to be resisting an ideological and personal urge to slam Boris. A few digs did slip out - he claimed the Conservative incumbent was fond of Routemaster buses because they, like his house, had three entrances and two staircases, and that plans for an airport on 'Boris Island' were being discussed because the Mayor 'spent too much of his childhood watching thunderbirds'.
In any case, we probably won't be seeing a coalition mayoralty. And according to the latest polls, which put Paddick on a meagre 5%, we won't be seeing a Lib Dem one either. If this election really is a litmus test for national opinion, then the Lib Dems are heading for electoral oblivion.
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