May the farce be with you

A stench of death is already hanging over the forthcoming election of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC), and that’s before the votes start rolling in for the 15th November.  Theresa May, clearly recognising a turnout disaster looming, has decided that it doesn’t really matter how many people will turn out and vote.  When challenged on the likelihood of a low turnout, May responded:

“I never set a turnout threshold for any election, and I’m not going to do it now.  What I do know is that the people who are elected as police and crime commissioners would have something that the current police authorities do not have.  For the first time ever they will have a democratic mandate for the people for the work that they’re doing.”

But the point is that if turnouts are low, there will be no credibility for the role amongst the electorate.

No votes, no credibility. No democratic mandate.

May’s response is unconvincing, and has all the subtlety of an adolescent blocking out uncomfortable truths by putting her fingers in her ears and shouting ’la la la, I’m not listening!’

This ignoring of reality by a politician at the helm of a flagship project should be terrifying for everyone who is interested in democracy.

Do I really want anything to do with this wreck in waiting?  Is this one of those situations where not voting is a credible statement of a lack of faith in a project wanted by no-one outside the Tory backbench bubble?  This could be one of those scenarios where mass silence speaks more than a million voices.

It’s no surprise that the candidates for Northumbria PCC are exclusively from party political backgrounds, none of which represent my values.  The UKIP and Lib Dem candidates seem to be there just to make the numbers up, given that they’ve been so invisible, with the spotlight focussing mainly on Vera Baird, the Labour candidate, and Tory candidate Philip Butler.  Given the massive tribal Labour voting patterns in the North East, Vera Baird looks like a shoe-in.

A couple of posts back I wondered if I was going to vote.  On current evidence, I won’t be.

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11 responses to “May the farce be with you”

  1. Peter W Skevington says :

    Recent “Gazette” poll produced a response that 32% would vote whilst 68% would not vote in PCC elections. I will vote and have been delivering leaflets and letters for Vera Baird. Apart from disagreeing with Brian about voting, I agree with his postings and opinions on the subject of PCCs. There is no interest in PCCs. However, if some so called “controversial” candidate is elected elsewhere in England , or someone who interferes unwisely and unreasonably in operational matters, or tries to, the media will highlight the issues.

    • brian paget says :

      32 per cent is in line with South Tyneside local election turnout, if a bit lower. However, the accuracy of such polls is questionable at best and they’re easy to game, so the PCC election would be a nice test. I predict a lower turnout nationally.

      • Peter W Skevington says :

        Once again I agree, 32% is the sort of turnout we expect to get in a local council elections; though Cleadon and East Boldon ward have c 45% turnouts. I doubt if PCC Electoral turnout will exceed 15%. At last a smidgeon of information re UKIP and Lib Dem candidates courtesy of the “Gazette”; whilst I do not support UKIP and have little or no idea of their take on PCCs, their candidate might pursue the politically independent line, because it seems to me that they give their members and elected member politicians a relatively free hand.

  2. Ken says :

    I agree with you, the PCC will not really have a mandate if they poll even 50% of a (say) 30% turn out. But, is the same not true of local elections? and for that matter General Elections? Inept and dishonest Politicians, plus voter apathy.

    • Peter W Skevington says :

      Not all politicians are inept and dishonest; regrettably those that are get an inordinate amount of local and national media coverage. Frankly I get sick of the snipers and innuendoists who post such negative, and potentially defamatory comments about politicians on blogs, some of the “Gazette” bloggers being classic examples. These individuals apparently do not go to CAFs, PACTs,Council Meetings etc, and probably do not vote, so make no contribution to local democracy. PCCs were initiated by politicians without any regard as to whether or not the electorate had any desire for the creation of the role.

  3. Peter W Skevington says :

    BBC1 7.30pm yesterday evening,a chance to see and hear the Northumbria candidates; also some informed discussion about the concept and role of PCC pro and con; Nicky Campbell hosted nationally,Richard Moss, locally.You could watch it on Iplayer if interested. Did nothing to change my opinion that Butler and Baird are the only two candidates who could carry out the role; UKIP’s Alistair Baxter might have fared better as an independent, apparently he does have relatively high level management skills in a large organisation.

  4. Peter W Skevington says :

    Once elected the PCC has the option of appointing a deputy (salary??) and must appoint a Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer (salaries??), that presupposes appointments of admin and clerical support staff given the propensity to create bureaucracies. Presumably a PCC with no background or training in policing/ regulatory/criminal law would consider appointing an unelected deputy with an appropriate policing/legal background. How much is this office going to cost to set up and run? Answers on the back page of a police notebook please…

    • brian paget says :

      I agree, the costs are an unknown variable. What worries even more is that these positions, which hold a huge amount of power and responsibility, ultimately only have to answer to one person, the PCC. This is another nail in the coffin of the argument that the PCC initiative will deliver more democratic accountability.

      • Peter W Skevington says :

        A non elected Deputy for example, where is the democratic accountability? Imagine being an elected councillor sitting on the scrutiny committee of a Police Authority where some eccentric PCC who is apparently totally out of their depth has been elected on a 12% turnout. Despite your reservations about them one would hope that neither Butler nor Baird our most likely PCC would fall into that category

  5. Peter W Skevington says :

    Polling Stations unnervingly quiet; did some early am canvassing for Vera Baird near EB Metro, generally met with courteous and interested responses, but people expressed concern at the lack of information about the PCC role, the election, and who our local candidates are.

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