Paul Richards gives his view on developments in Sussex, where he hopes to be the Labour candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner. If you have a perspective to share on TopOfTheCops.com let us know.
The British National Party (BNP) is planning to stand a candidate in Sussex for the newly-created police commissioner job. If the BNP candidate was elected, it would be a disaster for community relations, and risk serious public disorder in Brighton and throughout Sussex, says one of the leading candidates for the post. I am seeking the Labour nomination to be a police commissioner candidate in Sussex. At the heart of my campaign is the stark warning that unless people in Sussex turn out to vote, the BNP might sneak in through the back door.
I have conducted an analysis of BNP websites in Sussex. It shows that:
· This week, the BNP deputy leader Simon Darby made a call for BNP candidates to step forward to stand in Sussex for police commissioner
· BNP ‘tabletops’ (ie provocative street stalls) are planned in Littlehampton, Bognor Regis, Lancing and Emsworth, according to BNP organisers
· 60,000 leaflets have been distributed throughout Sussex, including in East Preston, Angmering, Ruslington, Ferring, Lancing and Barnham
· The BNP is seeking to build on the success of BNP parish councillor John Robinson, a councillor in Barnham parish council, in standing more candidates for town and parish councils
· The BNP south east headquarters in Hastings is gearing up for the Sussex police elections in November
It is now clear that the BNP, which does so much damage in our communities, is fundraising and organising to stand a candidate for police commissioner in Sussex. As a Labour Party candidate, I will stand against the BNP, expose their falsehoods, and argue for fairness and tolerance. I will work with anti-fascist groups such as Searchlight, and the Community Security Trust, to mobilise the forces of decency. The trade unions in Sussex will be especially important in this task.
But it will be down to the voters to turn out on election day to stop the BNP being elected. A low turnout might favour the extremists, and that would be a disaster. If the BNP won, they would get £80,000 salary, plus £100,000-plus to appoint staff.
Each candidate requires 100 signatures, and a deposit of £5,000 to stand for the new posts, which replace the now-defunct police authorities. The police commissioners will have wide-ranging powers, including setting budgets, representing the public to the police, and hiring and firing the chief constable for Sussex. Just imagine if that person was someone fuelled by hate, and anchored in fascist politics. The election is on Thursday 15th November 2012. Let’s not wake up on the 16th with a BNP police commissioner in Sussex.
Paul Richards is a Labour campaigner, author and columnist. He worked for the last Labour government as a special adviser to Cabinet ministers. He was Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Lewes in 2001. He lives in Eastbourne, with his wife and two children.