Gillian Radcliffe was intending to stand as an Independent candidate for South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner. She has allowed TopOfTheCops to carry her explanation as to why she has withdrawn from the contest that can be found on her website at www.gillianradcliffe4PCC.com
It is with enormous sadness that I must today announce that I am withdrawing as an Independent candidate in the election for Police & Crime Commissioner in South Yorkshire. I will not be seeking formal nomination in October.
After several weeks of preparing for the campaign, I have come to the realisation that I cannot afford to continue. The resources necessary go far beyond the £5000 deposit. I always expected to do things on a shoestring but, never having previously been involved in a public election, I was naïve about how much it would cost to raise awareness of my credentials for the role and my policies.
I now see that, in an area like South Yorkshire, where there are almost a million potential voters to reach, I would need a very extensive programme of activity and publicity. That comes at a price. The election rules set the campaign spending limits at £178,637 per candidate in South Yorkshire. Initially I laughed at the idea of such a limit, but now understand that this is not as fanciful as it sounds. An expert in political campaigns has told me that even “doing it on the cheap” would cost at least £50,000. I simply don’t have that sort of money, or anything like it.
I am not saying that party political candidates have it easy. I am aware that some have to fund their own deposits and most have to be actively involved in local fund-raising. The difference for me is that, as a recent returner to living in South Yorkshire as my main home, I don’t yet have the extensive contacts and networks of potential support that more established candidates have. I am not moaning about that: it’s simply a fact and one I’ve considered in making my decision.
If I could have, I would have returned to the area and begun my preparations much earlier. I’ve made several attempts to come back to South Yorkshire full-time in recent years, but the right job hasn’t been available for me. When the elections were announced, I had professional commitments in London that I wanted to honour and I didn’t think I could have a go. It was only when I became free of those commitments in early August that I reconsidered and decided to try, but it’s obvious now that it was already too late and I now must accept that.
Of course, I’m deeply dismayed that I can’t continue. My experience of policing, crime reduction, partnership across agencies, public engagement and senior management is a rare combination but fitting for the job that the PCC needs to do. I think I was arguably one of the candidates across England and Wales who was most suitably “trained” for the very demanding role of PCC.
If this were just about applying for a job, I would feel confident I met the essential criteria and I’d steam ahead. As it is, the office must be gained by election. This is something where I don’t have the same extensive package of experience or skill. After a professional life spent mainly in the public sector, almost always in politically-restricted posts, I haven’t had that opportunity.
I do not consider the past few weeks wasted. I have learned a lot and one of those things is that I really do want to be involved in public life and particularly in relation to policing and community safety. I will consider carefully what I do next but I may well decide to put myself up for election in one role or another in the future, when I have had time to settle in properly to South Yorkshire life.
The other great plus is that I now have my home in the Barnsley area, with wonderful neighbours, and the opportunity to make new friends as well as see a lot more of my many old friends in the area. I take that as an enormous benefit in terms of quality of life.
I must give an enormous thank you to the very many people who have offered to support my nomination, or who have donated money to my campaign or offered their time to do battle for me on the campaign trail. I will be in touch with you individually over the next few days but I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your support and to apologise if you feel I’m letting you down.
There are two party political candidates now left to contest the PCC role, along with anyone else who enters the fray over the next month or so. I wish them both the very best in their election efforts and hope that this campaign will be won on issues and integrity. For my part, I have a vote in South Yorkshire so I will be following the action closely and pitching in now and then with my views as I make my own assessment on the merits of the candidates.
My message to the voters of South Yorkshire is to ask them to go out and vote for this crucially important role and to urge them to set purely political allegiances to one side as you decide how best to use your vote. Please consider which person has the right skills and experience to do this job for you and who is most likely to take their lead from local people and not from their party HQ in London. It is too important to base your decision solely on the colour of a rosette.