Posts Tagged ‘local democracy’

Time for Labour to make its peace with the idea of police commissioners

20/06/2012, 08:11:35 AM

by Kevin Meagher

So there we have it, 41 newly-minted Labour police and crime commissioner candidates. Greeting their unveiling, Ed Miliband said the party would “make the best of a bad job”, using the elections for these new roles as a referendum on police cuts.

Meanwhile shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Labour still believed November’s elections should be “called off” and the money reinvested in frontline policing.

Do I detect a distinct lack of enthusiasm?

As I’ve argued before, Labour really should not be so curmudgeonly about elected police commissioners. With government plans rubbing out a fifth of police numbers and decimating back office staff, there is a real need for a strong democratic voice at the top of local constabularies providing public accountability about how policing is restructured in response to the cuts.

That aside, what are we to make of those selected? First of all it was a victory for high profile figures – with seven former ministers selected.

Former deputy PM John Prescott won in Humberside, although the narrowness of his victory surprised many. He won with 552 votes, with former Hull divisional police commander, Keith Hunter, running him a close second on 458.

The toughest scrap looks to have been in Merseyside though, where two former ministers went head-to-head for the nomination. Former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle took on former Northern Ireland minister Jane Kennedy in what was seen locally as something of a grudge match.

A more leisurely pace was found further down the M62 as Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd, former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, was confirmed as Greater Manchester’s candidate after failing to find a challenger. He was selected unopposed.

As was former Labour MEP Simon Murphy in West Mercia.

A second parliamentary by-election now looms following the selection of former Welsh first secretary Alun Michael who was elected to fight South Wales. Meanwhile his son, Tal, a former police authority official, was picked to fight in North Wales.

Former deputy leader of the House of Commons, Paddy Tipping, narrowly won the Nottinghamshire nomination, while former DWP minister James Plaskitt romped home in Warwickshire.

As did former solicitor general and Redcar MP, Vera Baird, in Northumbria.

She is one of 15 women selected as Labour PCC candidates – 37 per cent of the total.


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