The Liverpool Echo’s David Bartlett today reveals concern within Labour ranks that Police and Crime Commissioner nominations are sewn up by ex-Ministers with a sense of entitlement. The complaint comes from John Ashton, the former North West Regional Director of Public Health, and now director of public health for Cumbria, who said many like himself were interested in standing but found the process is sewn up by ex-ministers. As a Merseyside resident the people he may have in mind are ex-ministers Jane Kennedy and Peter Kilfoyle, who are in the running for the Labour TopOfTheCops nomination for Merseyside.
Ashton “said he was in favour of directly elected positions, and their expansion into the health service”, a point so far raised by only a very few, like this clever chap here.
Ashton adds “I have been in the Labour party for almost 50 years. The big problem with it, as with other parties, is they are run by cliques.” Time perhaps for us all to revisit the 1911 book “Political Parties” by Michels, and the famous quote, “who says organisation, says oligarchy”.
If nominations being sewn up by ex-Ministers is an issue, it seems peculiar to Labour, possibly due to their position in the electoral cycle. The cramped nature of fitting two potential sets of ministers into one Coalition government has not spawned any potential Commissioners from those frustrated with limited parliamentary opportunity. Well, not yet.
A number of high-profile candidates across Labour and Conservative parties have however used similar language about being ‘approached’ and ‘asked to stand’. This raises questions about how open and fair the selection processes are within the parties, and what candidates will be lost from an impression that there is no point in applying, which is quite the opposite direction as to that suggested by the Institute of Government.