I am torn about what to do on the 15th. On the one hand, I completely and utterly disapprove of politicisation of the police brought-about by this government via its elections for Police Commissioners. The fact that those elected will ‘earn’ so much money for it (85,000 per year here) and that nobody wanted these elections in the first place doesn’t help.
If a minimum turnout threshold was required for validity of the whole election things would be clear-cut - I would not vote, and general voter apathy would be the end of it. However, that isn’t the case, so I must vote since, as this article points out, not voting lets the loonies in. Thankfully there are no EDL or other far-right candidates in my area, but someone will be elected whether I like it or not, so I must mitigate the possible damage.
I am left with the choice (in Avon and Somerset) of three candidates from the three Old Parties and an independent, Sue Mountstevens.
To keep politics out of policing should I vote for Sue Mountstevens? I’ve read her whole Web site and I’m still not sure how authoritarian she is. Actually, what she does say is a good example of how pointless this election is. It’s all very well saying she’ll respond to concerns, improve transparency, etc etc, but all of the candidates say that. What does she really think? And how much scope do any of the candidates have to do anything anyway? There isn’t much, from what I can tell, and again this illustrates how pointless these elections are.
For all of their faults, the Liberal Democrats generally stand for tolerance and socially liberal policies, so isn’t their candidate a safter bet, despite the political influence? Not voting for a Lib Dem candidate just because of the things they’ve done in government, such as destroying the NHS, seems rather petty when the alternative is likely to be worse when it comes to crime and policing.
Labour have repeatedly proved themselves to be far too authoritarian when it comes to crime and punishment, so much so that there’s not much between them and the Tories. They use dogma and ideology as a basis for their crime and punishment policies, which are generally of the ‘string them up’ kind, despite all evidence showing that it’s not an effective way to cut crime. Anyone interested in actually cutting crime cannot vote for these policies. Whatever actual scope they have to influcence policing policy as a PCC, the fact that they have those thoughts in the first place makes them unsuitable candidates for my vote.
So, what to do? I have still to decide. I will try to find out more about Sue Mountstevens, but overall I am sad that I am being forced to vote for someone in an election I think is completely wrong-headed in the first place. How can the Tories claim that there is no place for democracy in the Lords and then introduce it into the police, possibly the last place politics should be involved?
I urge you to vote, especially if you have EDL and the like standing in your area. Racists cannot be allowed to run our police, and by not voting you might let them in. Even if you don’t have any such candidates we should all give it some thought and vote appropriately. Boycotting this election is not giving the government a ‘bloody nose’ - given that the elections will happen regardless, you may well end-up with a police service that goes in the opposite direction you want.