Today I have updated the entries for Northamptonshire so that visitors to this site will know that Lee Barron is not a real choice in these elections, following his decision to ‘quit’ yesterday. As it happens, it’s too late formally to withdraw, yet it’s not possible for him to become a PCC either, if what he has said about his own criminal conviction is true.
The sorry story does however point up another issue. This is the update to the site:-
If you go to the official ChooseMyPCC website however you will find this – his candidate statement in all its glory, alongside the others, just as if he really was a candidate who you could elect and everything. If you look at the Returning Officer’s statement, you will not only see that there will be no explanation given of the situation to voters by the Returning Officer, you will also see that the press release does not even tell you which candidate is now an unsafe option!
Call me picky, but I think that is tantamount to a deception on the electors of Northamptonshire. It looks like this candidate can’t take office, but public agencies are still inviting people to vote for him and hoping that the private and voluntary sectors in the shape of mainstream and new media can get out a message that they themselves refuse to give.
There are other problems with the public sector approach. ChooseMyPCC, the Home Office and others do not link to alternative sources of information such as yours truly. Apparently we could be biased. And they, whose wages depend on a constant flow of public funding are not?
ChooseMyPCC have decided to give candidates’ web addresses, but not present them as hyperlinks. So you have to cut and paste in order to check out more than the 300 words! How many people will do that? The site, which has been heavily advertised so that it will be the default visit by those who can be bothered to find out more ends up providing less information that places like here, PoliceElections and YourNextPCC.
ChooseMyPCC also lacks candidate statements from Richard Davies in Lincolnshire and from Neil Eyre in Humberside, the first because of a dispute as to whether the email arrived, and the second because he was put-off by all the rules that had to be followed implying the possibility of censorship. No such problems if you click on the links in their names here.
And let’s not forget that ChooseMyPCC went live with candidate statements in late October – whereas TopOfTheCops has been carrying them since February. No wonder we see tweets like this from BBC Home Affairs correspondent Matt Prodger :-
ChooseMyPCC is looking less like a good investment.
It is 10 years since Douglas Carswell put forward the idea that is now PCCs. He’s trailing a new book now, about how traditional politics is finished and how the internet enables people to do things better than the government. How apt that the Government’s implementation of the PCC idea has made his case for him.