Last week Mike Wood MP posed the question, “At £75m does anyone really believe the Police and Crime Commissioners elections were worth it?”
As a believer in a democracy, where the people have the right to express their opinion through the ballot box, my answer is an unequivocal “yes.” And so should his be!
I know the election was an absolute mess, and the prime culprit in that has got to be the coalition government. Having called for candidates independent of party politics to come forward, it beggars belief that they then decided that there would be no free post available for candidates to get their message across to the electorate. Something totally unprecedented in a national election in my 60 years experience of politics.
The offer of the internet, and a dedicated telephone number, does not fill that need in any way at all. An entirely new type of election deserved more official attention and explanation.
And why did we have to use an alternative voting system when the electorate had already rejected the AV Reform in a referendum? It is almost as if having set up the PCC policy and elections, somebody in government was doing their best to sabotage it all! Any thoughts on who?
Not that the coalition carries all of the blame. For any election to be interesting, and to catch the attention of the electors, the various participants have to be engaged in the campaign.
I can understand why Independents, without a basic ground organisation, might have some difficulty in this respect, but where were the political parties, Conservative, Labour, Lib-Dems, and I suppose we must include UKIP these days?
Campaigning was totally conspicuous by its absence. And the news media, at every level, didn’t exactly cover themselves with glory in publicising the campaign, or individual candidates. The size of the constituencies can’t be blamed, they were very similar to those for the European Parliament, and we have run those successfully now for 30 years.
So the Electoral Commission (EC) has initiated an investigation. But where were they? No use moaning that their advice was ignored. If the EC consisted of people who had some experience in running elections, wasn’t so besotted with daft ideas about voting, and was anything but a quango more concerned with monitoring political donations, then somebody might see them as a body to be listened too.
So far, after several years of existence, the EC has yet to show that it has anything to offer to make our democracy more inclusive and efficient.
It has just cost us 75 million nicker to find that we have another useless government quango to feed out of our hard-earned taxes.
It’s almost as if the powers that be didn’t want the electorate involved. That our involvement was an embarrassment!
And Mike Wood’s question could be construed as giving that opinion some legitimacy. We know that’s how the EU operates, but it isn’t good enough for the UK, with a proper Parliamentary democracy! Time for all the political parties to take note!