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.

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All Is Not Well In Dyfed Powys Police

I haven’t heard very much from them recently, so I stupidly assumed that all was well, but Dai from the Dyfed Powys Police and his girlfriend Bronwen from the canteen have both been on the phone moaning this week, and I have to say they have a very good reason to moan.

Officers and residents of Dyfed Powys have been expressing their concern about the possible loss of their nice shiny chopper.

Its base in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire is due to close in January next year, axed under planes by the National Police Air Service (NPAS).  Personally, I would expect any PCC to fight tooth and nail to save such a precious resource from the Tory axe.  Conservative Dyfed Powys PCC Christopher Salmon said he was “fighting for the best possible police air service”.  Following the decision by NPAS in February to cut the number of bases across England and Wales to 15, Mr Salmon publicly said it was “deeply disappointing”.

Towards the end of May Mr Salmon even replied to myself and others on Twitter with his response to the closure issue

Just three days ago he still appeared to be opposing the closure of Pembrey base;

But Plaid Cymru has accused Dyfed-Powys police and crime commissioner Christopher Salmon of not doing enough to save it. Mr Salmon has been quoted as publicly stating that the closure of Pembrey base was “deeply disappointing”, but Freedom of Information request submitted by Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards and AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas requesting to see the minutes of the NPAS meeting seems to indicate something different.

Having seen his copy of the NPAS Strategic Board minutes, Mr Thomas said: “The residents of Dyfed- Powys will be left speechless by the explosive information contained in the NPAS strategic board minutes. Given his recent public statements it is almost inconceivable that the police commissioner was reluctant to oppose the loss of our dedicated police helicopter. Just six months ago the commissioner announced to huge fan fair that he had reached an agreement to secure the helicopter’s future. Three months later, however, he sat in a meeting having been confronted with a change in that agreement and yet the minutes suggest he didn’t put up one shred of opposition to losing the service that serves the people he is meant to represent.

“Ultimately, the commissioner needs to decide whether he is on the same side as public opinion and prepared to join the campaign to protect the helicopter or whether he is more concerned in appeasing his Tory colleagues who are slashing police budgets and centralising services.

“Christopher Salmon should consider a public apology for his woefully inadequate representation and come clean on whether backs the retention of the helicopter and base at Pembrey.”

On a separate occasion Mr Thomas is quoted as saying;

“The residents of Dyfed- Powys will be left speechless by the explosive information contained in the NPAS strategic board minutes. Given his recent public statements it is almost inconceivable that the police commissioner was reluctant to oppose the loss of our dedicated police helicopter. Just six months ago the commissioner announced to huge fan fair that he had reached an agreement to secure the helicopter’s future. Three months later, however, he sat in a meeting having been confronted with a change in that agreement and yet the minutes suggest he didn’t put up one shred of opposition to losing the service that serves the people he is meant to represent.
“Ultimately, the commissioner needs to decide whether he is on the same side as public opinion and prepared to join the campaign to protect the helicopter or whether he is more concerned in appeasing his Tory colleagues who are slashing police budgets and centralising services.
“Christopher Salmon should consider a public apology for his woefully inadequate representation and come clean on whether backs the retention of the helicopter and base at Pembrey.”

Mr Salmon’s immediate response seems to have been;

“Our written agreement with NPAS included the retention of Pembrey as an operating base. The proposal from NPAS to close the Pembrey base only emerged last week.

“It is a deeply disappointing development and I will fight to ensure the best possible service for the people of Dyfed Powys.”

Mr Salmon’s blog on the subject of helicopter coverage and his views on the subject can be read here.

Who’s telling the truth? I don’t know.  Dai and Blodwen don’t know and it seems that the residents of Dyfed Powys and their elected representatives don’t know.  There seems to be conflicting versions of the story and I for one am not privy to the truth.  What certainly hasn’t helped is the fact that NPAS do not appear to have published details of this FOI request or their response.

It is my understanding that FOI requests, and their responses, enter into the Public Domain, but several months later I can find no trace of ANY FOI requests to NPAS or the associated responses.  This just serves to cloud the issues and helps to hide the truth.

Whatever the truth is, the Public deserves to hear it.

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