So it’s official. The by-election for Penarth and Cardiff South will be on 15 November, the same day as that for the Police Commissioners.
The Police Commissioners’ election could scarcely be less relevant. After all, Police Commissioners are opposed by all parties in Wales (nominally the Welsh Conservatives are in favour, but a shoe-in for at least 3 Labour politicians to high profile jobs for life must seem a bitter pill for them to swallow on behalf of their Westminster masters). And it’s a policy that could seriously backfire. Not least because the one thing you can guarantee voters will want is more bobbies on the beat. And as far as the Audit Commission is concerned, wandering the streets is a “not effective” way for highly-paid police officers to be tackling crime.
Why are no such elections happening in Scotland and Northern Ireland, by the way? It’s because policing and criminal justice is devolved to those countries, and their governments appear to have more sense than the UK Government, which is grimly pushing ahead because it’s a manifesto commitment (not that that appears to be a major impediment). And as I’ve previously suggested, given the majority support in Wales for devolution of policing, the Commissioners could be out of a job before too long in any case:
Stephen’s going to have to get used to being branded hypocritical. Because in relation to police numbers, if we look north to Scotland, police numbers are actually rising. But then police and criminal justice is devolved to Scotland (and Northern Ireland), so they’re much better equipped to withstand the ‘vicious cuts’ that Stephen is so concerned about. Perhaps he’d be better off asking Peter Hain why he thought policing would be better off financed by London than Wales than bleating about 750 officers being lost as a result of Labour’s failure to devolve when they had the chance…
I’m with Stephen that privatisation of the police forces a la Lincolnshire – policing for profit – is a bad idea. But the only cast-iron way of ensuring it doesn’t happen in Wales? Devolve policing and criminal justice – something, incidentally, that’s supported by a substantial majority of the Welsh public.
But irrelevant as these elections are, there’s one thing that keeps me from taking Lord Ian Blair’s advice and not voting in the election. And this, despite my reluctance to give any credence to the grotesque and not credible advertising that the Home Office has been taking out in its desperation for this election not to be the farce that many expect.
Regular readers of this blog will know that Alun Michael’s not my favourite politician. And it’s not just for the reasons I gave here:
I won’t be shedding many tears over Alun’s departure. His awful performance as First Secretary to the National Assembly for Wales along with his ‘strong support’ for the Iraq war and for renewing the UK’s nuclear arsenal are a matter of public record (I guess it’s easy to be generous with other people’s money when you’re on an MP’s salary). I just hope that the general contempt in which he appears to be held in Penarth is replicated throughout south Wales and he fails to get the £85,000 top job at South Wales Police. I know of die-hard Labour supporters who either abstain or vote Labour with a peg on their nose and with gritted teeth because of Alun Michael.
A few people I know are more than a little disgruntled because they’ve never received responses from multiple attempts to contact Alun Michael – and yes, these are constituents of Penarth and Cardiff South. Active citizens who’ve given up on their MP because of his poor record on communication. So Alun, you won’t be racking up a vote from this blog – in fact I’ll be having a think about the best tactical vote to be made to give you an early retirement. I figure if someone’s crap at communicating as an MP they’re not likely to be much ‘cop’ as a Commissioner – where communication with the plebs is crucial.
I won’t be offering publicity to the candidates this time round because I’m focused on the real issue of the day. If we’re still saddled with the donkeys of Commissioners in four or five years’ time I’ll reassess.
But we can put Commissioners to one side for the time being, because this post is really about the fantastic line-up of articles coming your way in the next few weeks. Last month I said:
On sequential days running up to the by-election I will publish an election message from each candidate in the election. The election address should be no more than 500 words, and I will publish it unedited (provided it doesn’t include defamation, incitement to violence etc.).
I confess it may not be possible for me to post one after the next each day, but I’ll do my best. In any case, all candidates who fit the criteria I stipulated here will get their election messages in time for the election.
So barring mishaps where a candidate fails to pass on their election material in good time, this is the line-up we’ll get on 8 days leading up to 15 November:
- Stephen Doughty (Labour)
- Roberth Griffiths (Communist)
- Andrew Jordan (Socialist Labour)
- Bablin Molik (Lib Dem)
- Luke Nicholas (Plaid Cymru)
- Anthony Slaughter (Greens)
- Craig Williams (Conservative)
- Simon Zeigler (UKIP)
Candidates: you should send your election messages (500 words or less) to penartharbyd[a]gmail.com to arrive no later than 31 October. And as a final caution, don’t think that you’ll earn any favours by not continuing to pass on your election material after your election message has been published!
Good luck persuading the electorate…