You may remember that a few months ago TopOfTheCops featured a number of problems that Labour were having with their PCC selection process, particularly around the shortlisting of candidates, which was so bad it was funny.
Well, you wouldn't expect me to ignore a report of Tories having similar problems, would you?
I have learnt that the Conservative Party is conducting an investigation into the conduct of the selection process for their West Midlands PCC candidate. I have made efforts to get the chosen candidate and runner-up to spill the beans on this but without much success.
Matt Bennett, who won the selection, didn't want to say anything on the subject. Joe Tildesley, the runner-up, gave an answer that was a tad more revealing:- “'I have been sworn to secrecy and told in no uncertain terms that I am not to speak to the press. I have submitted some paperwork to the party but I am not prepared to say anything more at this time”.
Ain't open politics great!
You may remember that the West Midlands Conservatives selected by a series of meetings open to the public, and that the margin of victory was reportedly 10 votes across 4 meetings. Consequently there are plenty of folk out there able to give an account of what happened, and with candidates suffering from uncharacteristic muteness, we are fortunate that this includes the loyal readership of TopOfTheCops, who have responded to my appeals for info, and report:-
- some people being excluded from the public meetings
- candidates seeking to fill the meetings with supporters
- a lack of organisation at the meetings
- a lack of clarity on whether attendees needed to be registered beforehand
- a lack of clarity as to whether rules on who could attend and vote were applied consistently
- the full results not put being put in the public domain straight away (maybe not at all), and consequently there has been a fair element of suspicion and speculation because of this vacuum created by the party.
So, plenty to investigate, it seems – but was it this, or was it something else? My interest was piqued, and I submitted a list of questions to the party to give them a chance to explain what was happening on this site (I've done the same with Labour in the past). You know the sort of thing:-
- What is the reason for the investigation?
- Who ordered it?
- Who is conducting it?
- What are their terms of reference?
- When will it report?
- In what other areas have PCC selections been subject of complaint?
- In what other areas have PCC selections been investigated?
- In what other areas are PCC selections being investigated?
Nothing too hard. All these were answered with the bland assertion that the party does not comment on internal party matters.
Well, I know a number of candidates out there are not overly chuffed with how they have been treated, but are not yet ready to go public. They may wish to consider that it appears that some sort of investigation is underway in the West Midlands. No doubt they will be wondering what the criteria are for deciding which concerns are investigated and which are not.
If you have any issues you wish to report to TopOfTheCops, whether about the West Midlands selection, other selections in other areas or parties, or any other PCC stuff, please feel free to discuss with me at Editor@TopOfTheCops.com
Seeing as I was asking, I also enquired of the Conservatives as to what steps they had taken to check that selected candidates are not disqualified from standing, in the wake of the incident where Keiron Mallon had declared a conviction to them, and they had failed to spot it disqualified him from standing. Guess what the response was – the party does not comment on internal party matters.
Labour have hardly been very clear about what they are doing on this issue and, like the Conservatives, dealt with appeals in PCC selections by not having an appeals process.
Which brings me to these two observations – how can we have proper transparency in government when our political parties are so committed to being opaque? And, should we ever fall into the abyss of state funding of political parties, does that mean they would be subject to Freedom Of Information requests, like other parts of the public sector?
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As for the Conservative primary for Devon and Cornwall, the nearest meeting to me was 40 miles distant and impossible to get to without private transport. I recall that there was only one meeting for the whole of Cornwall. This means those attendinng will probably not include the urban/rural poor unless they have contacts wihin the Conservative party.
The question is – can such a distasteful process ever produce a candidate suitable to be a PCC?
The answer is clear.