The first election of Police and Crime Commissioners is to be held tomorrow (15th Nov 2012), with every registered voter eligible to cast a ballot.
The vote will be by a system known as supplementary vote – so you choose your two favourites, and mark them on your ballot. If there’s no candidate with 50% of the first choice vote, all but the top two candidates are eliminated, and the second choice votes for those people are counted. The winner will then be elected PCC for the West Midlands.
There hasn’t been very much publicity surrounding the candidates, which surprised me for something which is going to affect so many people; so I’ve thrown together a quick and dirty guide to my view of the candidates and whether they are worthy of our votes.
First, we have Matt Bennett (Tory) who has no police experience, simplistic pledges with no detail. That’s it really. There’s not enough there to even comment on!
Bill Etheridge (UKIP) who has no police experience, plans to try and work well beyond the remit of a PCC, with a couple of frankly silly pledges, and is an organiser for the ‘Campaign Against Political Correctness’ in the Black Country. Need I really say more? Political correctness may sometimes get a bit silly, but because of it, attitudes to race, religion and disability have softened a lot in recent years. That’s something a PCC candidate of all people should be keen on. If he isn’t, then he gets no vote of mine.
Cath Hannon (Independent), a former police officer who retired as a Detective Superintendent in 2010. She has lead multi-agency teams working against the abuse of women and their civil liberties. Her stated aims are all very realistic, the odds of them being empty promises given her experience seem very low. A strong candidate for me.
Bob Jones (Labour), former chair of the West Midlands Police Authority until 2005, and national Chair of the Association of Police Authorities until 2009. HIGHLY party-political campaign, breaking one of his three pledges before he begins. It’s a pledge that really matters too. Policing matters more than petty squabbles. Simple pledges but for complex problems he claims he can fix. I doubt it, personally.
Ayoub Khan (Lib Dem), former City Councillor with a portfolio of community safety, and a practising barrister. Another candidate decrying the politics of policing whilst doing just that. No specific pledges, but mentions a focus on the fear of crime. Entirely uninspiring, and again, I don’t like the political angle.
Mike Rumble (Independent) former dog handler and CID detective with West Mids police until 1999, now a defence advocate. Proposes some of the more in-depth policies which sound good written down, but may fall flat in reality. Coy with regards some pledges, though hopes to draw a focus from consultation. All in all, there’s not enough there for me to be sure, but there are the beginnings of a good candidate.
Derek Webley (Independent), the first independent member of West Midlands Police Authority to be elected Chair. Lots of rhetoric and no substance. His page is a list of things which sound nice with no detail as to what they actually mean. He also manages, somehow, to politicise being apolitical, doing exactly the same thing as the Labour and Lib Dem candidates. There is not a chance.
All in all, Cath Hannon has my first preference vote. A credible, coherent, and modest enough to be realistic proposal with all the room to expand it she can get. I expect that she’ll manage to get a lot of room. Mike Rumble will probably take my second preference.
Democracy is government by those who turn up. So turn up, and make your choice. Regardless of who you support, please vote tomorrow.