The Guardian used to be called 'The Grauniad' because its feeble-minded correspondents seemed to lack the ability to spell. Since the advent of the spell-check the situation has not necessarilly improved. Today's coverage of Simon Weston's withdrawal from the race for South Wales PCC manages to garble not individual words or sentences but a whole article, and the law to boot, though this may be more the fault of Ministers than journalists.
The article goes on about how it wasn't really his juvenile conviction that got in the way, and focusses on him being the latest Independent to withdraw. Yet even Michael Crick, who has been popularising the idea that Independents are both needed and disappearing, opted for the line of 'wasn't he barred anyway', and seems to imply that an undue reticence last week to agree to an interview with Channel 4 was a precursor of today's events.
Strange though that everyone seems to think the Home Secretary and the Attorney General have expressed views of the law favourable to Weston. That's strange not just because it displays a peculiar view of the law, but because it reveals that such individuals are bothered about one PCC candidate. A few people have noted in the last week about Nick Herbert's tendency to slip into 'angry mode' when defending the PCC reform. I must confess I thought I saw a flash of this at the CREST event when I asked an inconvenient question about 'big candidates'.
Are Minister's genuinely stressed about Weston's case? Does their own evaluation of the scheme rest on Independents standing, both those with no known association with the Tories (like Weston), and those who can be grafted in as recent members? Why is he disappointed at their lack of support – why would he expect them to support an independent in the first place? Something is very odd. If you know what, the comments section is yours.
The declaration by Simon Weston to withdraw from becoming a PCC is a sad indictment of the political system that has no problem with MPs breaking the law (fiddling expenses) or Lords doing exactly the same unlawful acts, some Lords have been put in Prison for those offences, but still maintain and receive their payments allowances) from you the tax payer.
Fact is accepting the irony Lords can stand as a PCC according to the Home Office latest rule release.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 applies to England, Scotland, and Wales, and is aimed at helping people who have been convicted of a criminal offence and who have not re-offended since. Spent convictions, Convictions that carry a sentence of 30 months imprisonment or less will become spent after a certain period of time. This period is known as a rehabilitation period and varies in length according to the severity of the penalty. If the person does not re-offend during this rehabilitation period their conviction becomes ‘spent’. The individual is considered to have put their criminal past behind them and rehabilitated back into society.
Recruiting ex-offenders, from the Home Office Web page: You should not discount someone from a job just because they have a criminal conviction. If your business uses CRB checks in the recruitment process, you must have a policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders. This policy must be available if requested as part of the recruitment process. An important factor in reducing the rates of re-offending is finding a job. Evidence based on research shows that many offenders who get jobs are reliable and committed employees. Ex-offenders can often be loyal and hard-working, tending to stay with one employer.
Nobody in their right mind would exclude Nelson Mandela from standing as a PCC if he lived in the UK yet under the present guidelines (still confusing) he would be excluded as he served 27.5 years in jail for being convicted of Treason, illegal exit from the country, incitement to strike, later sabotage.
The law needs to be challenged through the Courts; legal advice at present will give you two versions or different interpretations of the guidelines, only the Courts will be able to finally decide unfortunately unless you have a bottomless pit of money you will be excluded from standing as a PCC candidate, anyone out there with a pit of money to “test” the guidelines (the law as is at present?).
Mr Ken Little PCC candidate for Kent
For those who have not read ‘The Plan’ by Carswell and Hannan – I recommend that you do – it shows very clearly where the Conservatives plan on taking the role of PCC.
In this respect the idea that the role is anything but highly political is nonsense. So whilst I have huge respect for Simon Weston, and I think this querky, hurriedly drafted law at the very least called into question whether he would be able to stand at all, his idea that the race was becoming ‘too political’ just does not make sense – these elections were always and are going to be very, very political.
I have written more about this here: http://ajustfuture.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/simon-weston-and-plan.html
Jon, It is a great book. I’m lad you’re a fan.
Hmm – fan might be stretching it a bit!
I am honoured to add a comment on a blog with heavyweights such as the people above. Sam’s last comment – I think the Government realise that the public are very anti-politician at the moment what with the phone hacking revelations of politicians being cosy with national newpspapers, and because of the expenses saga. I think it is as simple as that. It is clear the Govt wanted businessmen of high profile, such as the MD of Lush, or Virgin, to stand, and in this regard they got it wrong? If you look at the Indies (of which I am one) most are ex police, ex army, or ex public sector. There are very few business people standing. I don’t think it’s confusing at all, they wanted legitimacy for the role outside of politics, because of the strength of feeling, that’s all?
I am very sad to lose Simon, he would have brought a lot to the table. We spoke several times and I wish him the best.
This is also a good time to raise a real diversity issue (watch out, here comes a new Sam blog!), the proportion of white middle aged men standing is really concerning, I am sooooo glad Dorset has Rachel Rogers standing as well! Seriously, diversity in the candidates in relation to sex age creed etc is a real issue for me, and may cause issues for voters?
The diversity that matters most is diversity of opinion. What a pity if we had PCCs who, by ticking all the ‘diversity’ boxes, look different but are really the same.