These elections are about policies as well as people. In the next couple of months many of the ‘people’ issues will be resolved – the major parties will have chosen their candidates and, while the electorate will still need to make that all important ‘which one’ decision,
hopefully in most areas the best of one party will be up against the best of the other, and there won’t be much to choose between them.
OK, admittedly not. The selection processes will produce what selection processes produce, possibly, but not necessarily, the best candidates, and the quality could vary enormously, especially if there is any truth in the suggestions in various quarters that certain selections are ‘fixed’.
Let us be content then by saying that once the major contestants are chosen, there will only be so much mileage we can get out of talking about their personal qualities before people drift off and wait for it all to end.
Policies however, may not always have so much quirkiness and human interest, but are rather important. We may see party manifestos, and localised proposals in individual areas, but if it were just that it would seem such a waste. This after all is an election that will not be overly complicated by too many mayoral contests taking place on the same day. It is an election which is timed away from the cycle of all the others, and this is the only time we can foresee that being true, as the next time round it will join the other elections in the spring.
So this year we have a never-to-be-repeated election which is all about crime. What debates can we have? We’re familiar with two already:-
Jon Harvey, who wants to be Labour candidate in Thames Valley, has tweeted that this election is an opportunity “to vote against all privatisation (not just police)”‘. Say no to privatisation by voting for him. Slam the government for the Health Act and proposals to sell your community bobby to Group 4!
On this site, Paul Richards suggested that “Labour’s candidate for police commissioner in Sussex has a simple job: to make the election a referendum on Theresa May’s 20% cuts to our police.”
Of course there is a trap here. If Jon loses in Thames Valley it implies he accepts this gives a mandate for the government to privatise whatever they like. If Paul loses his ‘referendum’ in Sussex, Labour presumably are duty bound to ‘Shut-Up and Move On’ about police funding?
Either way, those are 2 topics from 2 people, but there are so many more of you, and so much more to discuss. So what I was considering was this – opening an “Issues” section on TopOfTheCops, with very short articles which each simply state a topic for debate, and where the real meat is provided by you, in the comments section. I’m thinking at the moment it should be heavily moderated, so it doesn’t descend into the irrelevant and abusive, and to raise the quality of the debate – think less ‘online trolls’ and more ‘Oxford Union’ (ah, memories!). The debates could be left open till election day if you like, or we could run a different one on a weekly basis. It’s up to you.
Anyway, what do you think? Is this workable? What topics should we discuss? How should we go about it? Let me know – or let everyone know in the comments section here. Think of it as practice.
Of course if (Jon is selected and goes onto to lose) “in Thames Valley it implies he accepts this gives a mandate for the government to privatise whatever they like” – it doesn’t. It would merely point to the situation that not enough people voted Labour for me (or Tim) to win.
But of course ‘mandate’ is an interesting word in this context since as all readers will know – Cameron & Lansley did NOT have a mandate to reform and privatise the NHS – there was no mention of this in the Conservative manifesto and the PM-to-be said before the election there would be no top down reorganisation of the NHS. The changes did not even appear in the Coalition agreement – although this did not stop the Lib Dems supporting their Tory partners and crow barring the legislation through Parliament.
Mandate – interesting word that.
My point is that if you decide to make the election about ‘privatisation’, you must realise it is a double-edged sword. People who are invited to support a candidate for one reason are entitled to ask what it will mean for that reason if a candidate loses.
Personally, I think the election is not about ‘privatisation’, ‘cuts’ or a hundred other individual things, but about which candidate people want to hold the office of Police and Crime Commissioner. They may prefer their final choice for a range of reasons to do with policy and/or personality, and for each voter the calculation will be different. I’m suggesting we help the policy calculation by having structured debates on a range of issues, and I think this is better than seeking to over-simplify the issues involved.
If police services are to be privatised further (along the lines of what IS happening in Lincolnshire and what COULD well be happening in West Mids, Surrey – and now Beds/Herts/Cambs – the electorate need to know that the person who will be signing the contracts after Nov 15 will be the PCC. Therefore privatisation / outsourcing cannot but be a big part of the election.
This is not surprising with recent events in Cornwall with the issues around SERCO running the out of hours GP service and the fact that all NHS community satff have now been Tuped over to Virgin Health Care in Surrey – this is just the beginning of the train wreck that the NHS is heading into as a result of the NHS changes brought about by Cameron/Lansley. By November – people will be seeing more of this. Nov 15 will give people the opportunity to express their desire for the police service NOT to go down the same route that the NHS is headed. Hence the two issues will be naturally brought together.
And I say this both as a politican and as a independent observer – the issues will get mixed up together whether you or the Government want it or not…