The slow death of the Police Service and other Public Services cannot be denied, however that is linked to something equally, or far more, important, the death of Democracy itself.
Those of you who have followed my posts for some time will not need reminding that over a period of time Policing, and other Public Services, have been politicised. On a more discrete level this probably began many years ago but the current incarnation of Conservatives have taken it to a whole new level. No pretence of discretion here, just blatant political interference in full view, with the hope, if not the expectation, that the public will either not notice or can be easily fobbed off.
The coalition government of 2010 saw one Theresa May at the helm of the Home Office. Stories of her, and her department’s incompetence are many and easily found on t’interweb, but I will confine myself to the ones that are most relevant to me and this post.
Unless I’m having a total Saga moment, it all began with the Winsor Independent Reviews of Police Officers’ and Staff Remuneration and Conditions. The two parts of this ‘independent’ report started off Theresa May’s infamous ‘Reforms’ of the Police Service of England and Wales.
One or two things struck me as a tad unorthodox about these reports.
Mr Tom Winsor, ex Rail Regulator, was appointed to this task by Mrs May at the same that his employers, White and Case, were engaged advising G4S in delicate negotiations in relation to privatisation of certain functions within Policing. Worth £200 Million apparently. We have been assured that there was no conflict of interest.
Mr Winsor was assisted in this enterprise by Sir
Edward Crew (an ex Chief Constable) and Professor Richard Disney of Nottingham University.I find it slightly unusual that Sir Edward and Professor Disney both received the appropriate recompense for their labours whilst Mr Winsor did not. Neither Mr Winsor nor his employers, White and Case, claimed the estimated £125,000 fee for Mr Winsor’s work on the reports.No doubt there will be some who don’t find this unusual in business, but I wouldn’t have turned it down.
Moving on from his reviews, and absolutely not connected in any way, we find that Mr Winsor has applied for, and is ultimately described as Theresa May’s ‘Preferred Candidate’, for the post of Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. The main thing that strikes me as unusual about this is that it always used to be a post awarded to an experienced Chief Constable. Never before has the post been filled by an ex Rail Regulator.
Fast Forward to 2015 and Tom Winsor becomes Sir Tom Winsor in the Law and Order category of the New Years Honours list, “For Public Service”.
In 2017 the Fire Service was added to his empire when he was appointed as the first ever Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services despite never having served in the Fire Service either.
In the meantime November 2012 saw the first appearance of publicly elected Police and Crime Commissioners to replace Police Authorities. Most candidates represented a defined Political Party and constituted an absolote political interference in Policing, a profession traditionally viewedd as politically neutral. However, so Independent candidates were successfully elected and went on to become thorns in the side of Theresa May’s Home Office.
2016 saw the next round of elections for the next full term of PCCs. However, for these elections the Tory Government had some very unpleasant surprises in store for Independent Candidates. Despite the Electoral Commission recommending that traditional deposits be done away with, for the PCC elections only, the deposit was increased from £500 to £5,000, a sum guaranteed to deter all but the wealthiest Independent Candidates.
To rub salt into the festering wound the Cabinet Office then decided to withold funding for the candidates to have a ‘free’ mailshot. Again this greatly disadvantaged Independent Candidates, and smacks of the Tories smothering the opposition into submission.
The final straw, for me at least, was the intervention of Mrs May in the local PCC Elections here in DeadBadgerShire, ordinary members of the puiblic, including people who had never shown any political allegiances before, were bombarded by email purporting to come from Mrs May encouraging voters to vote for their Conservative candidate. Interference in an election? Disadvantaging Independent Candidates? You decide.
In more recent times Theresa May has been found to have been in Contempt of Court, Contempt of Parliament (twice I think) and has now been accused of attempting to get her own way on Brexit by effectively running down the clock in relation to her proposed ‘deal’ on Brexit, again interfering with the Democratic Process for her own ends in my opinion.
There are undoubtedly many similar events in other Public Services and I would welcome their addition in the comments below. Mrs May bangs on about protecting democracy, but her actions suggest the complete opposite.