Ian Blair was Metropolitan Police Commissioner from 2005 to 2008. He was Blair by name and, I suspect, Blair by political inclination. An exponent of political correctness, he appeared invulnerable until he met Boris Johnson!
Why do I congratulate him? Because he has changed my view about Police & Crime Commissioners. This is how.
I recognise that Police & Crime Commissioners are a DC crusade. He has been convinced by what he has seen in the USA and he may be right. Recent news stories have shown a police service ready to close ranks and protect their own at the expense of the public they serve. They have also lost the confidence of some rural communities plagued with anti-social behaviour and of motorists persecuted by speed cameras.
My hesitation about Police & Crime Commissioners has been about the way in which the Conservative Party has delivered this policy. It has been a shambles nationally and locally
At a national level, elections are to be conducted using the supplementary voting system where voters cast a vote for their first and second preference. Unless a candidate secures an overall majority in the first round, secondary choices are built into the votes, enabling some lucky voters to have two votes. This system is the first step on a slippery slope to a proportional voting system that would give the Liberals a permanent strangle hold on our democracy for ever. For this reason alone, I am deeply opposed to this innovation despite the need for police reforms.
My next concern is the date for the elections, forced on the coalition by the Liberals, adding to the cost of democracy and guaranteeing a low turnout on the day. This was a silly mistake.
Now for the local concerns.
The Thames Valley Police Area covers 2,500 square miles. It has 2.5 million residents. Its Police & Crime Commissioner will spend his time either in travelling round the patch, meeting with citizens or on the tail of the Chief Constable to ensure policy delivery. I fear Blair is right that the Thames Valley is impossibly large.
We had a first class candidate with experience in policing in Cllr Kieron Mallon who represents the County Council on the Thames Valley Police Authority. Unfortunately, he fell foul of a rule that has caught out several other good potential candidates including Simon Weston, Falklands hero. Kieron took issue with two young thugs who were causing a nuisance where he then lived in Banbury and was caught by a politically correct justice system that branded him for defending his own space and addressing his wife’s fear for her own safety.
I was sufficiently angry for Kieron and others in a similar situation to feel I could give the Police & Crime Commissioners elections a miss.
Then Lord Blair came along and announced his view that the public at large should boycott the PCC elections. This is someone who has never stood for democratic election and who has espoused political correctness to the detriment of society and good policing.
So, Lord Blair, thank you for helping me to recover my political senses. I will be voting for a Conservative Police & Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley on 15 November and I owe you my thanks for persuading me to do this.