Is there a way forward for Independent Candidates?

The results for Police and Crime Commissioners 2021 is deeply disturbing on many levels. In one sense it demonstrates what a dominant political party set out to achieve and has managed to do so after 3 attempts. In 2012 when the first PCC election took place there were 12 Independent PCCs who got elected. The reasons they were so successful was two fold. The first and perhaps the most fundamental was that the Prime Minister in the day had made a very clear argument that it was vital for PCCs to be from outside of Political Parties. He then reversed his argument or rather his actions but that was two years later. This inevitably meant that many people who voted wanted to follow the original approach. The second reason was that the election took place at a different time to local elections and so there were far fewer people who go out to vote regularly willing to do so in November.

In 2016 things shifted very significantly and we ended up with 3 Independent PCCs which was very disturbing for those of us who wanted the Independent PCC role to remain as the way forward. However the reason was partly because the turnout increased by nearly two times as many voters and the Independent votes were diminished by people who set out to vote for their preferred parties. That said along with the 3 Independents there were only 20 Conservatives and there were 14 Labour PCCs as well 2 Plaid Cymru PCCs.

The situation a few days ago was far more disturbing. The retirement from the PCC roles by Martyn Underhill and Sue Mountstevens made the challenge much more significant for people like Dan Hardy who stood in Dorset but did not have any previous experience and tragically he only got half the votes that the Conservatives achieved. The reality is that Political Parties have a much stronger structure than is available or can be achieved by most Independents. Nevertheless the fact that there were no local elections in Dorset in 2021 presented Dan with the best prospect but sadly the dominance of the Conservative structure beat him.

The even more disappointing result in one sense was in Gloucestershire as Martin Surl who was the PCC in 2012 and 2016 came third in the first vote result of the election which meant his second votes were ignored. He was less than 3,000 votes into the third position but inevitably the Conservatives who were being voted for and had the dominance position in Gloucestershire came top although in 2016 they were second and at that time there was no Liberal Democratic PCC candidates standing.

The much more sad position in terms of the PCCs is that the Police Forces and in many locations the Fire and Rescue Services will not be controlled by Political PCCs and this is very different to what happened prior to 2012. In 2012 the Police Authorities that had many challenges as an way of running Police Forces were much less political than the Fire and Rescue Authorities. The groups were both made up of Councillors from the various County and District areas, and there was some inclusion of alternative parties, even if there was one dominant party in the area. However the Police Authority was radically changed a few years earlier when nearly 50% of the Authority was made up of Independent people. Sadly some were not very independent at all and the membership was agreed by the Councils so there was a great deal of politics built into it, but the two elements ensure that unlike the current position, the Police forces were not being controlled by any one party or indeed in some cases by people from outside of politics.

The pictures above show Martin Surl at the bottom but the other two people are of significance in terms of their roles and the potential for Independent people to get elected. The man at the top is Niko Omilana who stood in the London Mayoral election and he obtained 2% of the votes (not the 5% the tweet indicated) but that was 49,628 which placed him in fifth position and nearly 2,000 votes ahead of Laurence Fox in the Reclaim Party who is estimated to have spent £5m in his campaign. Niko instead used the Youtube and Social Media so this is a very interesting situation. The person in the middle is Sam Lee who was the third candidate in the Harlepool election as an MP. Now the Jill Mortimer who won got 15,529 votes and Paul Williams in Labour was 8,589 but to come third and to get 2,904 votes is clearly very significant, even though MPs are voted on a FPTP basis. She was ahead of the Greens and the Liberal Democrats and tragically well ahead of the Woman’s Equality Party. The next person after Sam got 468 votes so her position was very significant.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Parliament and Democracy, Police & Crime Commissioner, Policing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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