Why Can’t All Politicians Be Like Mine

Sarcasm Alert – there may be some.

Like the rest of the country, here in DeadBadgerShire we have our very own MP, and he’s an absolute corker.

 

He’s good value for money because he doesn’t seem to bother Parliament very much;

  • Has spoken in 17 debates in the last year — below average amongst MPs.
  • Has received answers to 0 written questions in the last year — well below average amongst MPs.
  • Until 2015 he saved us money by employing his wife as his part-time Senior Parliamentary Assistant at a salary of £15-£20k p.a.
  • He is a Conservative MP, and on the vast majority of issues saves any confusion by voting the same way as other Conservative MPs.

 

So, when he is at work, he tends to vote, so far so good.

 

  • Consistently voted for raising England’s undergraduate tuition fee cap to £9,000 per year
  • Generally voted for reducing central government funding of local government
  • Generally voted against equal gay rights
  • Consistently voted against the hunting ban
  • Voted a mixture of for and against allowing marriage between two people of same sex
  • Generally voted against laws to promote equality and human rights
  • Generally voted against allowing terminally ill people to be given assistance to end their life
  • Consistently voted for the Iraq war
  • Consistently voted for an investigation into the Iraq war
  • Has never voted on a right to remain for EU nationals already in living in the UK
  • Has never voted on UK membership of the EU
  • Generally voted for reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (which Labour describe as the “bedroom tax”)
  • Consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices
  • Generally voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability
  • Almost always voted for making local councils responsible for helping those in financial need afford their council tax and reducing the amount spent on such support
  • Almost always voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • Generally voted for increasing the rate of VAT
  • Generally voted against increasing the tax rate applied to income over £150,000
  • Generally voted against a banker’s bonus tax
  • Voted a mixture of for and against higher taxes on banks (???)
  • Generally voted against an annual tax on the value of expensive homes (popularly known as a mansion tax)
  • Consistently voted for more restrictive regulation of trade union activity
  • Consistently voted for reducing capital gains tax
  • Almost always voted for reducing the rate of corporation tax
  • Voted a mixture of for and against measures to reduce tax avoidance (???)
  • Generally voted against restricting the provision of services to private patients by the NHS
  • Generally voted for reforming the NHS so GPs buy services on behalf of their patients
  • Voted a mixture of for and against a transparent Parliament (???)
  • Generally voted against transferring more powers to the Welsh Assembly
  • Generally voted against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament
  • Almost always voted against a lower voting age
  • Generally voted for mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities
  • Has never voted on merging police and fire services under Police and Crime Commissioners
  • Generally voted against measures to prevent climate change
  • Consistently voted for selling England’s state owned forests
  • Generally voted for culling badgers to tackle bovine tuberculosis
  • Generally voted against greater regulation of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract shale gas
  • Generally voted against a publicly owned railway system
  • Consistently voted for phasing out secure tenancies for life
  • Generally voted for capping civil service redundancy payments
  • Voted a mixture of for and against restricting the scope of legal aid (???)

He has actually voted on about 76% of occasions so far this year, which is about average for an MP I believe.

 

He takes a lively interest in current affairs, I know he does.  When I wrote to him in 2012 about the slash and burn approach to Police Pensions, he had a firm opinion on the way forward and kindly wrote to me telling me how he felt about it.

paterson_pension 2

 

So, there we have it, he’s not a waste of space like most of them are, and he hardly has any external income to trouble us with, all he has to declare to the Register is

Payments received in my role as consultant to xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx Ltd, a clinical diagnostics company, of xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx  xxxxxxxxx. This role began on 1 August 2015 and I received my first payment on 9 September 2015 (see below). Until further notice I now expect to receive £4,166 a month, for an expected monthly commitment of 8 hours.  He received an Oxbridge (or was it Uxbridge) Education where he studied for a degree in History (I assume he passed), he then went on to work for the British Leather Company in 1979, becoming Sales Director in 1983.  He has many other achievements since within the world of leather, all of which seem to make him ideally suited for a consultancy with a clinical diagnostics company commanding a meagre income of £4k per month for a whole 8 hours of his time.

 

All in all a thoroughly good egg, no? A great public servant with the best for his electorate always in his thoughts.

Nepotism Or Not Nepotism?

That is the question……

Some of you will know that I was going to stand for the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia until Call Me Dave and the Cabinet Office tilted the playing field against Independent candidates.

Many of you will know that I subsequently applied for the position of Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia but was unsuccessful.

For these reasons I feel that I am entitled to hold an opinion and comment on the outcomes.

First off, the position of Police and Crime Commissioner went to a Conservative Councillor from Wyre Forest District Council, John-Paul Campion, who, bizarrely, follows me on Twitter so will doubtless see this post.  The previous post-holder had been an Independent and his, then, Deputy, entered the fray as an Independent this time round and finished 4th.  The Independents relegated from 1st to 4th.

Possibly the intervention of Theresa May had something to do with it, with her unsolicited emails supporting the Conservative candidate.  Where did she get non-Party Members email addresses from? Did somebody abuse the Data Protection Act?

Come the recruitment time for Deputy I took the view that I had nothing to lose and would try to inject some balance into what I saw as a bad situation for Policing in West Mercia.

My background, antecedents and experience speak for themselves.  My CV and Personal Statement were checked out by some people who know about these things. You know who you are and I am truly grateful.

And……………I didn’t make it through the short listing.  20 applicants, 6 made it on to the Short List.  I have no idea what the short-listing criteria were but I was disappointed not to make it.

For what seemed like an eternity I sat and patiently waited while the interviews were conducted and eventually the successful candidate was announced………..a Conservative Councillor from Wyre Forest District Council.  Incredible coincidence.

The local Press have not been slow to pick up on this amazing piece good fortune.

New ‘part-time’ deputy PCC appointed on £40,000 salary – as police chief denies “nepotism” claim

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion defends appointing Wyre Forest District Council colleague Tracey Onslow as deputy

One of the above Press articles makes this very valid point, and implies, if not states, that both are hanging onto their Councillor jobs as well, contradiction of that would be most welcome if this is not the case;

The West Mercia PCC represents the people who live in four local authority areas; Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire.

“John Campion is a Wyre Forest DC and Worcestershire County Councillor. Tracey Onslow, is presently a Conservative Wyre Forest DC Councillor so we have a PCC and deputy PCC who are both from the Wyre Forest area of Worcestershire.

How WILL they adequately serve the people and Police of West Mercia if they also have “day jobs”?

I did manage to get hold of a set of the questions put to each of the 6 candidates who made it through to the interview stage, naive in parts, possibly tailored for a certain kind of person in others

 

The final insult for me personally is a pinned Tweet on Mr Campion’s personal Twitter account

Earlier in the week I was angry, today I am more sad.  Even if nepotism has not raised it’s ugly head, the people and Police of West Mercia surely deserve better.  This is a clear reminder of what can happen when you mix up Policing and Politics.  I blame Theresa May for that, Well Done, and for that, she is likely to be our next Prime Minister.

Please feel free to Unfollow me Mr Campion, but I have had just about enough of politics interfering with with Policing, and quite honestly, I’m GLAD I get didn’t the job as your Deputy.


Purdah vs FOIA

Yes, that old chestnut.

Personally, I confess, I did not know which should or would apply in the run-up to an election, so I phoned a friend.  It was not long before an answer was forthcoming.

I turned to page 7, as suggested, and this is what it says”

FOI requests

9. Requests which would normally be covered by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) must be handled in accordance with the requirements of the Act, and deadlines set therein. Where the application of the public interest balance requires more time, that is permitted under the Act but there is no general power to defer a decision.

10. Where a request needs to be considered under FOIA it will not normally be possible to get back to the Parliamentary candidate, or others within 24 hours and he or she should be advised of this as they may wish to submit a request more in line with paragraph 8 above.

Whilst the two paragraphs above are Cabinet Office guidance in relation to a General Election, surely the general principles must hold true for all and any elections.

If that is true then officials such as Police and Crime Commissioners should not be crying “Purdah, can’t do that” in relation to perfectly reasonable Freedom of Information requests.

I, for one, will most certainly be quoting the above Cabinet Office Guidance if any of my requests are declined on the grounds of Purdah, and I hope that you would all do the same. 

Politics And Policing, Ne’er The Twain…….

Really?  Once upon a time maybe, but this government has changed all that forever.

In recent months the landscape has been turned on its head.  Almost as soon as the date for the PCC elections was made public David Cameron’s Cabinet Office announced that there would be no funding for a free mailshot for the candidates. I have no idea what the financial implications of this decision are but it will almost certainly disadvantage the Independent candidates funding their own campaigns.  I know at least one candidate who has had to withdraw from the fray for exactly this reason, and no other.

Then just a few short days ago someone I know received the below email.  I didn’t get it for some reason, but having read it I’m not really surprised.
 Theresa May, clearly expressing her views, and not the views of Mrs Theresa May but Theresa May MP, Home Secretary.  This clearly introduces party politics into the campaigns and I’m not really sure whether or not it may breach any purdah. 

I’m reasonably certain that this email will be repeated all over the country.  It was sent to somebody who is most definitely not a member of the Conservative Party, nor any other, and not a supporter of any party either.  Heaven knows how the email address was obtained by the Conservative Party but it would not have been willingly provided. 

Then, this morning I saw an article on Sky News quoting Lynne Owens of the National Crime Agency and putting their own particular spin on what she said.

Let me be clear, I don’t really have a problem with what Ms Owens said, but it left her and the NCA open to media spin.  In my opinion (and that’s all it is) Policing should take NO part whatsoever in the leave/remain campaigns.  State the Pros and Cons if you must, but with no actual or implied preference attached.  It is quite right that the world of Policing should be prepared for the outcome of the Referendum in June.  It would not be the first time that contingency plans would have been prepared.  Whatever the outcome of the Referendum it will take at least two years to exit.  If the vote is Remain then nothing in Policing needs to change.  Policing needs to be ready for the possibility of Exit but that will not happen overnight in June.  It would be reckless in the extreme NOT to be prepared, but regardless of any problems associated with Exit, Policing should not seek to influence the outcome in any way.

David Cameron, Thersa May and to a certain extent Tom Winsor and George Osborne have created a country where Party Politics are noe entrenched in Policing, and I, for one, think that is a terrible thing to have done.  Not one of their better achievements by any means.

I’m an old crusty, one of the dinosaurs that Sir Tom dislikes so much, but I’m not going to apologise for that. 

ADDENDUM

Cumbria also gets the Theresa May treatment

  

“A vote for a Conservative PCC is a vote for a candidate who will work with the Government to deliver lower crime and safer communities, while making effective use of police budgets.”

Theresa May, March 2016

Electing the right PCC in May is vital to people making sure their policing priorities are heard.

“Nationally, the Conservative Government has protected overall police spending for the next four years and reformed policing to make forces more accountable, effective and better value for money for local taxpayers. This means every force will have the resources and powers they need to keep on cutting crime.

“Vote Conservative for a PCC who will work effectively with the Government to ensure your police force uses those resources and takes the right steps to deliver lower levels of crime and safer communities.”

Theresa May, April 2016