4 Nov 2012
What's the point of the police elections?
You'd be forgiven for not knowing, but there's an election on 15 November.
If you live in Hertfordshire, it's for the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner. If you live somewhere else, you'll have your own equivalent.
There's been close to zero publicity about this election, except for some truly awful posters saying "Criminals hope you won't vote on November 15th".
That poster slogan is nonsense, and the entire election is nonsense too. For the first time in my life, I've decided NOT TO VOTE at an election. The turnout is going to be very low anyway. But if it's mind-bogglingly low perhaps the Government will think again about this ridiculous waste of public money.
So why is it nonsense?
1. The title is nonsense
What on earth does it mean? What's a Police Commissioner? Someone who runs the police, right? No. This new role will not run the police, or tell them what to do. And what's a Crime Commissioner? Someone who commissions crime?
2. The job description is nonsense
As I say, this person does not run the police. Their job is to "oversee" the police and "ensure they are prioritising what matters to you". Of course this is only true in their patch - in our case Hertfordshire. Above them is the Home Office, whose job it is to, er, oversee the police. And below them is the chief constable, whose job it is to, er... well, you get the picture.
3. The cost to join in is nonsense
To be a candidate you had to stump up £5000. For a democratically elected post? That's ten times more than you have to put up to run as an MP! So you're automatically excluding anyone who is neither rich nor backed by a large organisation, such as a political party.
4. The cost of the new role is nonsense
There will be 41 PCCs, each with a salary of around £75,000. That's £3 million straight off. No doubt there will be support staff and office costs, plus the cost of running a nationwide election. Millions and millions, all for what?
5. The candidates are nonsense
Surprise, surprise, almost every candidate has a party political label. What on earth is the relevance of party politics to this job? It is supposed to be about getting the police to do their job in a way that local people want, whatever that means. This is already nonsense, but adding a party political dimension makes it more so. Are we supposed to vote for the candidate we like or the party we support?
6. The candidates' statements are nonsense
The candidates' statements are indistinguishable from each other. No one has anything interesting or different to say. Just look at the Hertfordshire lot. They promise no political interference, tight budgets and, brilliantly, "tackling crime".
7. The foregone result is nonsense
As the candidates all have party labels, the result in Herts is a foregone conclusion. The Tory will win. Not because of anything he says or stands for, just because he's a Tory and that's the way the demographic cookie crumbles in this part of the world.
I'm not prepared to support this nonsense with my vote. Are you?