Cock-up or Conspiracy?

Remember how a few days ago we considered the case of Labour’s unexpectedly early choice of Tony Lloyd MP as PCC candidate, and wondered as to the implications of comments on Michael Crick’s blog about a rival candidate being tempted away by an unannounced by-election? Well, Mr Crick has been in contact to tease me that I am, in his words, “an even bigger conspiracist than me”.

Now that would put me in the Premier League of conspiracists, just shy of denying moon-landings and accepting “global warming”, so clearly I now have to back off from that stance. If policing and public service has taught me anything it is that “cock-up” is usually a much more believable explanation than “conspiracy”.

If we apply that to Labour’s selection in Manchester, and remember that in the recent past Labour haven’t been so happy about Police and Crime Commissioners, they probably didn’t plan for a bunch of their heavyweights and not many other people rushing to get these new roles.

So their ever so democratic/bureacratic apply-longlist-interview-shortlist-vote selection procedure probably seemed to cover all the bases. Then some heavyweight announces he or she is standing for a plum seat, and all the other contenders think there is no point in embarrassing themselves, and go their separate ways. The result is no election, and that looks bad – looks like just the sort of conspiracy alluded to in the previous post. Worse still, it looks like taking the voters for granted. And sticking remorselessly to cutting down to a longlist of not very many, and a shortlist of one, probably offends a good few local politicians in some areas who maybe could at least have done with the courtesy of an interview.

To continue the slightly self-obsessed theme, if policing and a time investigating miscarriages of justice taught me anything, it is that you shouldn’t just look for evidence to confirm your theory – you also need to look for evidence that challenges it.

If we apply that to the conspiracy theory of Labour elections, look at today’s report in The Journal (hat-tip to Jon Collins) that Henri Murison, supposedly leading the field for the Labour nomination in Northumbria, has decided to pull out. This happened shortly after Vera Baird, former Solicitor General, announced she’d rented a flat in the area and was standing.

You have to feel for Cllr Murison. Everything was going so well, and then the Labour government’s second most senior law officer drops out of the sky right on top of his election bid. That’s pretty bad luck. I just hope that future selection panels can appreciate his ability to decide when is the right time to cut his losses.

So Greater Manchester may just have been people deferring to the seniority of the Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party. And Michael Crick’s reference to a then-unannounced by-election may have just been referring to Bradford West, rather than to who gets Tony Lloyd’s seat, as one of our commenters suggested.

Cock-up or conspiracy? You decide.

But take one thought away with you. Nominations for the actual elections don’t close till mid-October. Who knows what notable and hitherto unthought-of Independent candidates may drop out of the sky between now and then?

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