Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 9.1°C

min temp: 5.8°C

ESTD 1874 Search

East meets Westminster: Why didn’t we vote?

09:05 22 November 2012

Friends and family of winner Tim Passmore for Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner await the election results at the Suffolk police headquarters on Friday, 16 November.

Friends and family of winner Tim Passmore for Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner await the election results at the Suffolk police headquarters on Friday, 16 November.

Archant

FARCE - there can be no other reasonable analysis of last week’s police and crime commissioner elections, writes Richard Porritt.

shares

Up and down the country – London aside – people shrugged their shoulders and rushed home from work not to place their vote and play their part in our great democracy but to watch the latest instalment of I’m A Celebrity.

There is an easy opinion to form from this mass cry of “we could not care less” – the general public are idiots who care more about watching people of questionable intelligence munching on bugs and kangaroo’s testicles on television than politics. But that is complete and utter rubbish.

Prime Minister David Cameron – who entered Number 10 promising the election of PCCs would be just one of a number of ways in which power would be pushed down to the people – blamed the media. That really is idiotic but then kicking the media is most politicians’ default setting when things go wrong.

The real reason people did not turn out to vote – 16% in Suffolk and just 13% in Essex – was that they were not sure why they were being asked to make a choice. There was confusion over why the police needed to politicised, what exactly the new role would entail and who these people standing for election even were.

Now, there is a tried and tested method of introducing those standing to the electorate – leafleting. Problem was Mr Cameron refused to cough up any cash. Seems he wanted the media to do the job for him – begs the question why should they promote his pet policies?

But to be fair the majority of regional papers have given extensive coverage. The East Anglian Daily Times gave over full pages to each of the candidates in the days leading up to polling and this column was dedicated to the election weeks ago.

And the nationals gave plenty of room to the election as well.

So Mr Cameron can go on pointing fingers all he wants but the real reason this election was a shambles was that people did not care. They do not see a need for a change in the way police forces are run – in fact many feel it unnecessary to pin rosettes to bobbies at all.

It would not be a shock if this whole sorry affair is abolished as quickly as it was dreamt up if Labour squeeze passed the Tories in 2015.

In Suffolk the debacle was given an extra sprinkling of stupidity - as if it needed any more - when Tory Tim Passmore won even though he did not receive the most votes. Yes that is right the loser, won. Even though the country roundly booted out plans to use the alternative voting system - a similar version was used for PCC - in general elections in a referendum last year the Government decided to use it here. It beggers belief.

Problem is AV – like Communism – looks great on paper but flounders in the real world. The only argument for it is that it irons out anomalies on polls which seek to elect numerous people. But here the public were asked to vote for one person, to fill one role in one specific area.

The majority of people in Suffolk who could be bothered to vote – and credit too them - wanted Labour candidate Jane Basham to be the first PCC. Some might say “hail to the thief” because there is a whiff of a stolen election.

But these failings should not reflect on Tim Passmore. He ran a good campaign and is passionate about making the role a vital one through hard-work. And although he narrowly lost the first preference votes he won a clear majority in the second count. East meets Westminster wishes him the best of luck.

But does he have any sympathy with Ms Basham’s claim that she scored the “moral victory”?

“Of course - she fought a good campaign and it must have been tough for her after all that hard work. We all knew the system though when we signed up to the process.

Mr Passmore says it is now up to him to educate and inform people as to why the role is a vital one so that next time turn out is much improved.

“Government made mistakes,” he said. “I was disappointed but that is over now. Government maybe should have been more involved in the promotion but they were not - quite rightly involved heavily in the campaign. I do not see this as an overtly political role.

“I am confident that as people understand more about the thinking behind it they will want to engage more. I am keen to make communication between police and the community - councillors, neighbourhood watch schemes and the general public - a priority.”

The apathy over the PCC vote will worry Mr Cameron. It is another of his reforms which has - in all but its forced implementation - failed. The list is growing for the PM - elected mayors and Lords reform are all but dead and boundary changes and even universal credit look to be on increasingly rocky ground.

shares

2 comments

  • Mr Porritt doesn't leave much doubt about his personal political opinions. A coalition governments means that the PM has to adjust his preferences to what is possible. The Lib Dems. are punishing him for not supporting them over Lords Reform and at the same time renegeing on the boundary reform bill which was part of the coalition agreement. It was they who insisted on AV for the voting system and holding the vote away from Local Gov. elections. Having made all the wrong decisions they then didn't even bother to put up a candidate in Suffolk. Elected mayors were brought in during the last Labour Government. I agree with SuffolkBoy1956 the press has some responsibility for the apathy but with journalists like Porritt having a 'pop' at the PM was just too good an opportunity to resist, never mind the facts. I am hopeful that once the public see how the Suffolk Police Commissioner role evolves they will realise that it enables them to access their elected representative in a way that was never possible previously. He will be accountable and accessible with a commitment to all the people of Suffolk. Let's give him a fair wind!.

    Report this comment

    sukilock

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • I don't agree that it is idiotic to blame the meda. The EADT in particular was running headlines predicting that apathy would win. There's only one thing that spreads faster than enthusiasm, and that's apathy. Perhaps if the EADT hadn't taken their default option of blaming politicians for everything that's wrong with the country and had got behind the PCC election process and tried to spread a bit of enthusiasm we may have seen a different result. As for the hackneyed observation that the AV system resulted in the the loser winning, that's simply not true. Mr Passmore was the 2nd choice. The loser was democracy, thanks partly to the media.

    Report this comment

    SuffolkBoy1956

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Pupils at Sir Robert Hitcham's Primary School in Framlingham dress up as characters from their favourite books fo World Book Day.

Pupils at Sir Robert Hitcham’s Primary School in Framlingham began World Book Day with a playground parade dressed as their favourite fictional characters.

Southwold Pier basks in the early morning spring sunshine

Spring is hitting the East with full force this weekend with temperatures expecting to reach the mid teens.

Michael Davey, left

Tributes have poured in for a “hugely influential” teacher who will be “profoundly missed” by staff, students and parents of a Suffolk independent school.

Alex Till ( third from right at the front), chief executive of MENTA, has been appointed by the Newbury Community Association as chairman of the Newbury Community Centre Project Board.

A business leader has been appointed to bring his skills to a project for a brand new community centre on Bury St Edmunds’ Howard estate.

Jane Ireland is continuing Wally's café, which was run by her father in Long Melford.

The daughter of a former chef and cafe owner who died last month at the age of 84 has vowed to keep the memory of his legendary breakfasts and Sunday roasts alive.

Police were called to the collision in Chelmsford

A man was flown to hospital in a critical condition after he was in a collision with a silver Vauxhall Corsa in Chelmsford.

The Bury St Edmunds County Upper School is one of only eight organisations in the country to have been awarded the prestigious World Class Schools Quality Mark. Headteacher Vicky Neale (left) collecting the award with students.

The standards at a west Suffolk schools’ trust are “world class”, according to an education awards body.

Olive Bullard, bottom centre, celebrated her 100th birthday on Wednesday at Firs Care Home in Felixstowe with her family great great granddaughter Imogen, 2, granddaughter Julie, great grandaughter Rachel Thompson, daughter Glenis Phillips, granddaughter Denyse Lillistone and great great granddaughter Grace, 5.

A Suffolk centenarian was joined by friends and members of her five-generation family yesterday as they raised a toast to longevity.

Action from last year's charity game at Ram Meadown, in Bury St Edmunds.

Ipswich Town fans took just 20 minutes to snap up the chance to play against some of their sporting heroes for charity.

Inside the former Fison's building in Princes Street, Ipswich that is going to undergo a multi million pound redevelopment.  Cllr David Ellesmere with Malcolm Hobbs of Hobbs Read ltd

Work on a £9million office redevelopment of the former Fisons headquarters building is due to get underway in April, it was announced today.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages