Friday, 27 January 2012

Only the rich need apply

It appears that some in government circles are starting to feel a little disappointed that most of the names emerging for the elections to the new posts of Police Commissioners are past or present party politicians.  Apparently, they had really hoped to see some strong independent characters coming forward, rather than simply having a traditional party battle.
I can understand that hope – after all, possible politicisation of the police is one of the main planks of opposition to their proposals.  But I cannot understand why they might have thought for a moment that there would ever be a significant number of non-aligned candidates.
Elections are the business of parties; parties are structured and organised precisely for that purpose.  They are also funded for that purpose.  And the areas covered by police forces are large, much larger than the average constituency; the chances of a one-person band ever communicating effectively with a significant proportion of the population are slim.
Why would anyone think that there would be many independent candidates who would be able to organise an election campaign over such a large area on anything like the same basis as a political party?  And how would they fund it – unless they are significantly wealthy in the first place?  I cannot imagine how anyone involved in politics could ever have expected the elections not to be dominated by party political candidates.

8 comments:

Siônnyn said...

"I cannot imagine how anyone involved in politics could ever have expected the elections not to be dominated by party political candidates." - That's easy - the Tories are stupid, and have no ability to think through the consequences of their policies.

John Dixon said...

Just for once, Siônnyn, I'm going to disagree with you. I don't think that they're stupid. Dangerous, yes - but that applies to a lot of other politicians as well. Out of touch with the reality in which most of us dwell - well, yes to that as well. But stupid? I think not. And it's dangerous to underestimate the enemy.

Britnot said...

Just as with the ongoing privatisation of both the English NHS and Education systems, the Tories seem obsessed with turning us into the 51st state. Of course they have been trying to emulate the frightening inequality in the states for years and are sadly succeeding.

If that isn't another good reason for the Celtic fringe to jump ship from this increasingly right wing Americanised theme park, I don't know what is!

Alwyn ap Huw said...

After Plaid said that they wouldn't be putting up candidates, but might support independent nationalist candidates I did seriously consider standing in North Wales, but the costs are beyond the pockets of even fairly wealthy people.

My limited research into the possibility of standing suggested that the minimum that I would need to spend would be about £55,000 a good campaign with a chance of winning would be much more, more perhaps than a couple of years wages in the job if elected.

The reason why electing independent police commissioners, appeals to the Tories because so many of them are influenced by the US right wing. It is the Americanisation of politics that appeals to them, systems where only the very rich can afford to stand election.

I hope that Plaid will change its policy on police commissioner elections and support official Plaid Candidates

Siônnyn said...

OK, john, out of touch with reality is more accurate. Certainly, few of the uppoer echelons of the party have held down proper jobs,, or have any contact with ordinary people.

John Dixon said...

Alwyn,

Dyfed Powys police force, to take an example, covers an area of six parliamentary constituencies (under current boundaries). If we take the cap on expenditure for those elections, that would suggest that a candidate would be allowed to spend up to around £60,000. That, however, is for the 'short' campaign; there is a much larger allowance for the 'long' campaign - i.e. the period before nominations open. And 'parties' will be allowed to spend on year-round propaganda as well, so that, as you say, any serious 'outsider' deciding to stand would need to have substantial financial resources to stand any sort of chance against party candidates.

It is indeed Americanising politics, and whilst it would be unfair to accuse them of class warfare, it's hard not to see it as a way of ensuring that only the elite minority are able to rise to positions of influence and authority.

glynbeddau said...

And are candidates going to be barred from receiving donations from big business .

Supposing it came from someone like The Liberal Democrats' biggest donor, Micheal Brown who has been on the run for three years after being convicted of a multimillion pound theft, and has been arrested by police in the Dominican Republic,
Michael Brown,bankrolled the party with £2.4m of stolen money, which they have refused to pay back.

But a Commissioner would clearly have to resign.

Even if the doners are relatively honest . Would they expect some kind of favour from the commissioner they financially backed?

It is open to the allegation of Cash for influence over policing.

Anonymous said...

I echo John's description of the Tories as 'dangerous' but it's the opposite to them being stupid. Under Thatcher, such a revolution was carried out that subsequent governments would have needed to have an ironclad commitment to socialism to undo the rolling back and privatisation of the state that she undertook. That's not to excuse the excesses of New Labour, but once something is privatised (or sold as a PFI contract) it's very expensive to reverse it. That's not stupidity- that's efficiency and the Tories doing exactly what they intend. In this case once vested interests are put in the police it will be hard for subsequent governments to get rid of them. A parallel might be Chavez in Venezuela. If he is defeated by the right they will not be able to get rid of all of his reforms and spending commitments because he has had the guts, like Thatcher, to get his own agenda put into practice.