A Post-Apocalyptic Dawn

Well, it’s taken 4 years but the Horsemen finally seem to have earnt their corn.

The votes have been counted and verified and I can announce that the winner is Theresa May.

Results in Wales are not set to be announced until Sunday but it seems that the Tory Machine has won the day.  Having lost Cheshire, Leicestershire  and Humberside to Labour, they went on to take Hampshire from Independent, Kent from Independent, Lincolnshire from Independent, Norfolk from Independent, Surrey from Independent, Warwickshire from Independent and West Mercia from Independent.  So, apart from 3 losses to Labour it seems that ALL of the Tory gains were at the expense of the Independents.

I don’t really see why we should be surprised by that, the Tories seem to have targeted the Independent seats with some very (in my view) questionable tactics.

Firstly we had the Cabinet Office decision at a very early stage to withdraw/withold funding for a free mailshot.  Not everyone agrees with me but it is my view that this seriously disadvanaged the Independent candidates without the deep pockets of Party candidates.

We have seen Spin, More Spin and downright untruths from some of the Tory candidates in this campaign.  What on earth is wrong with simply telling the truth?  The story you are telling might not be a vote winner, but your proposals for dealing with it might well be.  Don’t keep telling us that Crime is Down, when it demonstrably is not, tell us that crime has risen and what you propose to do about it.  Way too simple that one for some candidates, they had to have a waltzer ride instead.

In Surrey we saw the late entry of two more Independent candidates which caused a few raised eyebrows and split the Independent vote, but having said that the Tory candidate attracted more votes than all three Independent candidates added together.

Here in DeadBadgerShire we had the (unwelcome) intervention of Mrs Theresa May, MP, Home Secretary.  She seemed to be targeting undecided voters with an email assuring us all that Tory was the only way to go.

A certain amount of spin surely?  Not only the Conservative PCCs that have had the power to ‘Hire and Fire’.

Not only the Conservative PCCs that have set the Policing priorities and overseen multi million £ budgets.

Crime is down by more than a quarter since 2012?  Really.  CrimeStats have endured all kinds of problems over the last few years.  The Home Secretary knows full well that the Counting Rules have chsnged more frequently than my socks.  Recorded Crime is on the increase once more but no mention of that.

We need a PCC that will take the job seriously and work with the government?  Is she implying that ONLY a Conservative candidate will take the job seriously?  Why is it essential to work with government?  It isn’t, it is essential to make Policing work properly, and to serve the public properly.  Mind you, it makes Theresa’s life easier to have a compliant PCC, that could well explain why she wants a PCC that will work with government.

How did she choose who to send it to?  How did she get their email addresses (that could be a worry)?  I didn’t get one so it wasn’t sent to all.

Even if wasn’t wrong to chip in (and some think it wasn’t) just because she COULD, doesn’t mean that she SHOULD have.

In Dorset she progressed to a rather more controversial video, promoting the same message as the email but targeted at Dorset.

Some of you know, most of you don’t know, but I was originally standing as an Independent Candidate for my local Force.  I had received all my registration paperwork from the Electoral Commission, I had sorted my £5k deposit, was designing a campaign website and was well over half way through getting my initial 100 nominations as required when the Cabinet Office withdrew mailshot funding. I was left in a similar position to Mike Pannett but with three entire counties to cover I certainly couldn’t afford leaflets for 3 large counties, I couldn’t effectively ‘Press the Flesh’ over such a large area.  Rightly or wrongly I took the decision early that the field was being tilted and manipulated by government so I withdrew.  Ultimately the sole Independent candidate here finished 4th, so it is highly unlikely that I would have won.  The Tories overthrew a reasonable Independent majority, despite the fact that the only candidate I knew anything about was the surviving Indie, and I was taking an interest unlike the average voter.

Do I regret withdrawing? I most certainly do.  Do I think I could have won?  Almost certainly not, but I am immensely grateful to those who supported and encouraged me, and I’m sorry if you feel that I let you down, but realistically I am convinced, with the benefit of hindsight, that success was far from assured.

There is an element that doesn’t believe that an ex Police Officer would make a good PCC.  Whyever not?  Almost anybody from a School Leaver to a 100 year old pensioner is eligible to stand.  How is any knowledge and experience, at whatever level, be a negative thing?

With just the Welsh votes to be declared the Tories have 20 out of the 36 PCCs elected in England.  More than half.  Labour have 13 PCCs in England, leaving a meagre 3 Independents. THREE!!

Party Politics now play a HUGE part in Policing of England, and I’m sure Wales will follow suit.  Who is to blame?  Personally I blame, partly, Theresa May, for her questionable interventions, but mainly, our old friend APATHY.

The government did a wonderful job of keeping the elections low-key, but I’m sure more people COULD have voted but presumably didn’t think it was important.

Finally I want to pay my own personal tribute to Mike Pannett.  I know the administrative hoops that he had to jump through in the background.  He had to endure some pretty tacky tactics along the way, but he did so with head held high.  Well done Mike.  You have lost no friends or supporters here.  The boy done good.

And The Melton Mowbray 2015 Award Goes To…..

Mr David Cameron and his Cabinet Office

(Other brands of Pork Pie are most certainly available).

Who are the Cabinet Office and who has eaten all the pies?

The PieAnd what was this terrible Pork Pie?   pork pie

At the risk of ‘banging on about it’ the alleged Pork Pie is the withholding of funding for candidates in next year’s Police and Crime Commissioner election.  For the 2012 Elections the government decided not to fund a mail-shot for those elections (at an estimated cost of £25-£30 million) because, as our old friend Nick Herbert put it, “it was not justifiable in the current climate”.  Instead they funded a central website at a cost of about £100,000.

I assume that nothing has changed and that is the position of Cabinet Office now, I have yet to see an announcement from Cabinet Office themselves but they have certainly not contradicted that view.

I have no idea what the figure is for England and Wales, but, certainly, where I live in DeadBadgerShire a significant proportion of the population do not have access to the internet, mainly by choice.  A large proportion of the population here choose not to have internet and emails, preferring to receive their information, on any number of topics, on paper.  I suspect that may well be true of many of the ‘Grey Voters’ across the land, certainly my mother is one, she wouldn’t know how to get an email never mind order her shopping from the supermarket online.

Do you think that the candidates for Conservatives, Lib-Dem and Labour will manage their campaigns without leaflets?  I don’t think so, and those leaflets will be paid for out of Party Funds, leaving Independent Candidates at an immediate disadvantage, and possibly thousands of pounds poorer.  Even the quickest search on Google would suggest that Mailshot leaflets are costing about £25 per thousand without the cost of delivering them.  Multiply that figure by the number of households in your Force area and it is starting to mount up.  Even if you get reimbursed for your campaign expenses you still have to stump up the money and get the leaflets printed in the first place.

Some Independent candidates in the 2012 election claimed to have spent £20,000-£30,000 of their own money on their campaigns.  I would be interested to hear how much the Labour/Conservative/Lib-Dem candidates actually contributed to their own campaigns.

I suppose it’s possible to campaign without spending a small fortune, but why should they be disadvantage in comparison to the ‘official’ candidates?

Then there is the £5,000 deposit, do the ‘official’ candidates pay that themselves, or do the Party pay it?  Poll less than 5% of the poll and you lose your 5 grand.  Independent candidates again, potentially, disadvantaged.

The second factor to be considered is that the Election is scheduled for 5th May 2016.  Unsurprisingly this is the same date as Local Elections in England and Wales, together with Mayoral Elections in 4 cities, London, Bristol, Liverpool and Salford.  What might surprise you is the fact that the government are apparently funding a Mailshot for these elections, despite the fact that only 4 cities are having Mayoral elections and the Local Elections don’t include every single a Council in England and Wales, so many areas will ONLY be having. PCC election on that date, just like 2012, giving the electorate no added incentive to turn out again.

The final straw came when I got a phone call from my friend Dai (you remember him, his girlfriend Bronwen works in the Police Canteen) and Dai said “You do realise it’s not really about the money don’t you.  There’s plenty of money splashing about, it’s more about ‘Control’, government trying to influence the outcome of the elections before the campaigns have even started”

So I got to thinking about it.  They’re going to fund leaflets for the Mayoral and Local Elections, there seems to be enough money for that, and those elections are on the same date.  Hmmmmm.

With Dai’s phone call still fresh in my ears, I remembered that there was plenty of money lying around when Cabinet Office were throwing millions of pounds at Kids Company.  Just how many £3 Million donations did government give them and for what?

In my stumblings around the Interweb I came across this, taken from a document by National Council for Voluntaryt Organisations.

At the start of the month, the Cabinet Office unveiled a consultation for a “new fund to support the sustainability of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector”.

The fund, which is believed to be worth around £40m, will be open for bids from April 2015 and will run for one year.

As the fund will be quite small, resources need to be targeted at those organisations that need it most.

Hmmmm, so a £40 Million fund is deemed to be ‘quite small’, which I presume it is in the greater scheme of things, so I really don’t see the argument for a £30 Million funding for PCC Elections is ‘not justifiable

We can justify throwing Millions at Kids Company, we can set up a multi million pound fund for Voluntary Organisations but we can’t invest money into the Democratic Process?   Really Dave?

Finally I came across a rather excellent piece this morning by Jeffrey Harris, Deputy PCC of Surrey in his blog Ask The Question Why, he seems to be asking the same questions and making the same points as me, but he does it far more succinctly and diplomatically than I ever could or do.

meltonConsidering all the evidence, on the Balance of Probabilities, I find you Guilty, Dave, of fibbing, either by act or by omission, to the great British Public in general and to the Independent Candidates specifically, and here is your award.

I’m Beginning To Think That Our Government Are Corrupt

There goes old Angry, stating the bleedin’ obvious again.

I’m not quite sure what the correct term is for the political system in common usage in our country, but I do know that it is not DEMOCRACY.  Chumocracy?  A Parliament stuffed full with Bullycrats?

The Tories, in coalition, started it off (maybe not, but that’s when I first became aware of it) by introducing policies and laws that were unlawful, e.g. The Great Pensions Ripoff.  They very promptly changed the law to make their actions lawful, not a word of apology or explanation, just a fate accomplis.  What can we do about it? Nothing.

A huge vat of salt was rubbed into the wound with the award of MPs’ Pay and Pensions Package. “Sorry chaps, we can’t turn it down, the Law won’t let us, we absolutely have to accept it”.  Change the law then you arrogant bar stewards.

The arrival of Jeremy Corbyn on the scene set the stage for another abuse of the democratic system.  Labour and Tories alike didn’t like it that he was so popular, and on course to win the campaign for the Labour Leadership, that both sides of the House launched bitter, personal attacks on him, in an attempt to influence the vote.  Not very DEMOCRATIC that chaps, bullying comes to mind, running scared.  Let Democracy run its course and see what pops out the other end, but you can’t do that can you?

Now we have the absolutely appalling decision by Government not to allow a free Mailshot for candidates in next year’s Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

In 2012 the, then, coalition government were heavily criticised by the Electoral Commission for not providing a Mailshot, nobody then understood the role of the PCC or very much about their candidates.  The answer to that SHOULD be simple, fund one Mailshot per candidate, all is fair and even.  Nobody is disadvantaged. Last time round our old friend Nick Herbert said that a Mailshot would be too expensive.  Well, if it’s too expensive for a government how much too expensive is it for an Independent Candidate?  I would put a huge chunk of my pension down at William Hill’s (or wherever) that Conservative and Labour Party candidates will have a Mailshot, and that it will be paid for out of Party Funds.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson criticised the decision, saying a candidate information booklet should be sent to voters in advance of the election.

“It’s vital that voters know who is standing for election so that they can make an informed choice on polling day,” the spokesman said.

Kevin Hurley, Independent PCC for Surrey, who is standing for re-election next year, said the main political parties would be the beneficiaries if voters were not informed who the candidates were.

“Independents with real life experience can’t afford to compete,” he said.

“With no publicity support for independents, your choice will be simple: Conservative or Labour.”

I don’t suppose the government really care very much who is elected, just so long as it’s not an Independent.  Independents are difficult for the government to control, they don’t speak the Party Mantra, they have this inconvenient, and unforgivable, habit of speaking the truth.

Apparently the cost of producing and distributing an informative booklet, covering all the candidates, was put at £30 million and government decided that was too expensive, but they waste so much more than that when it suits them.

In my opinion this is just the latest in a long line of interferences with the Democratic Process by both of the major political parties.we’ve seen how hostile May and Camoron can get when things happen, or are said, which are out of their control.

Be a decent politician for once, embrace the over-arching principles of Democracy and let fate take its course without any interference from Westminster.

Is that too much to ask for?

Any undue interference with the Democratic Process is Corrupt in my my opinion Mr Camoron, not that you care what I, or the British Public, think.