The case for an Independent Police Commissioner

There is an investing article in this week’s Latest 7, an odd little magazine but with a great writer in Frank le Duc. This week he features the only (currently) independent candidate for the Sussex Police Commissioner, Ian Chisnall. Click here for Ian’s website.

Around the country, elections for Commissioners will take place in November. According to Frank le Duc “Two Conservatives have declared their hand – East Sussex County Council leader Peter Jones and Arun District Council member Paul Dendle, who also has a county-wide role with the party. The current police authority chairman Steve Waight may also throw his hat into the ring for the Tories.”

The Greens and Lib Dems are not expected to field candidates in the Sussex Police Commissioner election.

Labour’s Paul Richards has declared his hand although a formal selection has yet to take place. Labour originally opposed the creation of Police Commissioners, but have now decided to contest these elections.

Let’s face it, the official Conservative candidate is going to be elected. All electoral mathematics points to a substantial majority. That means that it will be Conservative Party members who will, in reality, choose the Police Commissioner. This can’t be a healthy state of affairs. It means that the successful candidate has to appeal to the narrow perspective of Tory members in deepest Sussex.

The ethical challenge for Conservative Party is whether it will organise an open selection, allowing anyone in Sussex to cast a vote in order to ensure that the elected Commissioner has wider credibility.

If not, I would suggest that the Labour Party should join with the Greens and Lib Dems by not fielding a candidate, and all supporting and campaigning for an independent candidate. Labour has nothing to lose and everything to gain – the outside possibility of not having a Party political, specifically a Conservative, Commissioner.

Stormin’ Norman and the Curse of the Coalition Government

I’m not one for making predictions, as my regular readers (Warren, Momma Grizzly, Councillor Christopher, and Biker Dave) will testify, but I have a premonition about the future fortunes of the Lib Dem Member of Parliament for Lewes, Norman Baker. I can feel it it my waters that his time on the Green Benches (the colour, not the party) may be limited.

Actually, there is speculation about his future in several quarters, not least in the pages of Latest 7 magazine and in Brighton and Hove News in articles written by one of the nicest and most principled journalists around, Frank le Duc.

So why should Stormin’ Norman’s future look so uncertain? Well, for a start, he is a Lib Dem, and as my regular readers (the said WM, MG, CH & BD) will know, I have had my doubts about the Lib Dems. Apart from being untrustworthy, lacking backbone, two-faced, unprincipled, deserving to be confined to the dustbin of history, I think they are rather a decent bunch.

The Lib Dems are facing meltdown at the next general election for several reasons:

For helping to create the Coalition Government and thereby allow the Tories to run the country without a mandate;

For betraying their pledge on tuition fees;

For standing by while the privatisation of the NHS has begun;

etc. etc. etc.

And Stormin’ Norman’s part in this is not great. He betrayed his own written pledge on tuition fees, he agreed to become a Minister in this government that is implementing policies that were not in either party’s manifesto nor in the Coalition Agreement, and his government is bumping up rail fares (something that will not go unpunished by commuters in the Lewes constituency). On the issue of rail fares, Stormin’ Norman not only remained silent, he is the Transport Minister responsible for rail!

But it isn’t all bleak for him, as Frank le Duc has suggested, Lord Baker of Lewes is a likely reward for his loyal service to the Coalition. However, that would be a sorry end for someone who inspired so much hope as an anti-establishment MP in his early career.