Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Election Fever. Bring out the Ballot Boxes!

Elections are very much the water-cooler topic of the hour.  Tonight we shall all enjoy spending the small hours practising our mathematics with the arithmetic of the US electoral college. And on Thursday we shall set our gaze on the 18th congress of the Chinese Communist Party, at which the next batch of leaders will be selected. What a fine week this is.
But in all the excitement we could easily forget that, on Thursday 15th November, we shall be having some elections of our own; those for the office of Police and Crime commissioner. These elections have struggled to gain profile against other political stories of the day. This is remarkable given that they are a first, and a key part of the Coalition law and order policy.
Indeed the main way they have made the news is for the extent to which they have been ignored.  Last week’s episode of Have I Got News For You told of the sorry tale of one of the candidates for the role of Humberside police commissioner.  He held a public meeting, where he was going to tell the good residents of North Hull what he would do if elected, and discuss with them the best approach to law and order.  Only four turned up. Three were his sons and one was a gentleman of the press.  Only one regular member of the public came in during the course of the evening.  Pangs of pity become particularly acute when one hears that this candidate is a father of five
But who is this man who wants to be the Humberside police commissioner? He might be the very stereotype of a bombastic colonel with a tweed jacket, hunting helmet and an overgrown moustache who wants to bang up everyone who falls short of exacting standards of propriety.
On the other hand he might be long haired 1970s style hippy with a flowery shirt who wants to fight the power and finds that punishment is oppression by socio-political structures.
Or he might be a candidate for the BNP or the English Democrats, with an agenda based on prejudice, a policy of scapegoat-ing and proposals far from anything our churches could possibly view as acceptable. Will the residents of Humberside ever know who might hold the police to account on their behalf? 
It just so happens that this candidate in question is nothing like any of the above in any way. He is eminently sensible, a retired superintendent with 30 year of experience in the Humberside police force running as an Independent (Against several other candidates). Some may think his experience makes him uniquely qualified, others uniquely unqualified.  The point is that one has to know in order to make a decision.
The Joint Public Issues Team has put together a briefing on the new office of police commissioner, and the Caritas Social Network has thought of some questions you could ask your candidates. You can find out who they are here.  
So please, if you have any interest at all, find out whose running in your area, find out what they are saying, and VOTE!