Throughout my adult life, I have always taken the opportunity to vote in Elections, be they local, national or European. But, it must be said, I have found it a bit difficult to find out about the elections that took place today for the new office of Police Commissioner for the Thames Valley Police. Nothing has come through the letter box, and I have met no-one at the door or in the High street. In short, it is one of those surprising ballots in which all the candidates are invisible.
Well that’s no quite right of course, because I have been directed to go on-line to http://www.policeelections.com/candidates/thames-valley/so I have, and once there, I find Six candidates. Now I am sure they are all really genuine people as well as upright citizens, so I read their short introductions with great interest. Says the UKIP candidate: “I have absolutely no professional experience with the criminal justice system” – so that’s him out then. Imagine having someone oversee the running of something as large and complex as the TV Police with absolutely no credentials to do so. I read on: “Regularly work with Victim Support, Probation, Prison Authorities and suspects with addiction and mental health difficulties”. That’s more like it from the Labour candidate, I think, and yet – what’s the party politics doing here? Policing is not one that benefits from politics getting in the way, and I feel much the same way once I have read the Tory and Lib Dem manifestos too. Two Independents have also put themselves forward (at significant cost, £6k a head) are there too – one (the man) is a great wow – read what his blurb says ‘We’re disappointed to report that Geoff Howard has not yet provided an introductory statement to PoliceElections.com.’ Well, clearly I won’t be voting for him then, if he can’t be bothered to even write himself an electoral thumbnail. Actually (post the event) I find there are a plethora of sites, and Geoff is on some of them.
And finally, I reach the second Independent candidate, Patience Tayo Awe, and frankly, if I must vote, she’ll get mine, because she makes it clear her work is to be outside politics and she plans ‘to be a viable link between the police and the public’. So, all I have to do is go and vote then. Easy.
And yet I can’t and don’t vote. For the first time, I choose to protest by not participating in a democratic ballot. My reasons are simple really – since the Coalition government has come to power, it seems to have challenged pretty much every activity and status quo I know, and wobbled it good and proper. Now that might be a good thing in some cases, but to shake in every way, every public service, every well established agency involved with keeping our Society safe and healthy and by doing lower their morale to rock bottom and then some seems to have been way too harsh? I understand the need for cost savings in these impecunious times, but why then pay £100,000 to pay 1 person to supervise something as complex as a Police Force? Given that the new single person is to replace a quango of 17 or so previously, I actually believe that such a larger number provided more appropriate democratic links than the 1 unseen & unknown candidate we were offered this time around. Unless the elected official is extraordinarily able, and the Police service see the implementation to be a good thing (and they don’t), the whole concept is doomed. After all, the Police are increasingly concentrating on working together across the regions, to share costs and resources.
So there you have it; nothing more than a simple, straightforward desire to stand up and say that ‘since I have had not literature through my door, no contact with a candidate, or with any tiny bit of propaganda to persuade me that this election is a good thing, I choose to vote with my inertia and do nothing’. A pity really, because in real life I am a push-over for Democracy and all I needed was a reason to vote for something or someone that I could believe in. Next week I’ll write about how the coalition government are replacing the entire national and local education framework with just one person and a private set of appalling prejudices about Learning. This individual actually is already elected, and of course I mean Mr Michael Gove MP.