Depending when you read this, we are either two days into another year or 2019 is well underway. Whenever it is, I wish you a happy and healthy New Year.
As for 2018, whilst good riddance might be too strong a send-off, you would have to agree that as it drew to a close, goodwill to all men (and one woman in particular) seemed to be in increasingly short supply - primarily due to the “B” word.
I have always believed that what goes-on in the ballot room stays in the ballot room. For that reason, I have avoided all media requests to express a view on the tangled web that is Europe, making it one of the very few issues on which I have not allowed myself to be drawn in public. I get enough stick in my job without attracting unnecessary criticism.
When I first sounded-out a friend about whether I should stand as a candidate in the first Police and Crime Commissioner elections in 2012, he encouraged me to do so on the grounds that people would prefer an Independent to a ‘Party’ politician governing their police force. To my surprise, that’s how it turned out and I will be forever grateful to those who have voted for me then and again in 2016.
I cannot deny that politics plays a part in my role. I have to produce a manifesto on which I am judged; I work with politicians at both local and national levels; I am judged by the electorate on the work I do and it is they who decide whether to vote me in again or throw me out. But I am independent in all meaningful senses of the word.
I understand the principle of Party or cabinet loyalty where personal opinion is subjugated to the majority view. But I find it sad, and frankly disappointing, that some see me as ‘the opposition’ simply because I prefer not to be restricted by a system that might prevent me from seeking support from anyone with common cause.
I am proud that ours is such a diverse county and that my job brings me into contact with so many inspirational people of all backgrounds, ethnicity, and beliefs. People who are dedicated to making their part of Gloucestershire the best it can be.
It’s an example and a resolution we can all aspire to.