As a fiercely independent Police & Crime Commissioner I always make a point of distancing myself from party politics and my record will show I have never commented on any election, be that local or national except my own. This week I’m going to make an exception and allow myself that liberty because I really think I am no different to many of you when I say, ‘as a country it doesn’t feel as if we are in a good place right now and, I want to have my say’
Grant Shapps, a former Tory party chairman described his party’s manifesto as ‘appalling’ and the ‘world worst’ so before it’s consigned to history here are two little known reasons why I agree with him.
Firstly, the proposal to scrap the pledge to ban the trade in ivory runs against everything I stand for as a person and commissioner. My police and crime plan is explicit in as much as we must extend our compassionate approach to animals as well as humans.
Secondly, the proposal to change the voting system for police and crime commissioner elections would favour the major parties to the detriment of independents.
Yes, I have a vested interest, but they proposed to change from the current arrangement where you have the option of voting for your first and second preference candidates, to ‘first past the post’ on the basis of making it simpler for the electorate. The implication being that voters don’t know or understand what they are voting for – which is maybe a lesson they will take from the general election.
Incidentally, in 2016 I would have won under either system.
And this at a time when our country seems divided on Brexit; is under attack from terror; horrified by the human tragedy of Glenfell Tower and now there are real concerns that the arrangement with the DUP could set the four parts of the Union against each other. Although it appears the Tories are not the first party to try to strike such a deal, it is my view that votes should not be for sale, and certainly not post-election.
Now, more than ever we all need a voice so maybe it’s the ‘first past the post’ system that needs some reflection, especially when you consider that in Northern Ireland 300,000 votes has resulted in 10 MPs and a billion pounds whereas 500,000 votes the Greens gets you one MP, little influence and no cash.
We all need a voice. Democracy counts as much for the residents of Glenfell Tower, as those who seek to remain or leave the European Union - no matter how you cast your vote.
One final thought. In my 2016 election campaign, as an Independent, I spent £5,893 of my own money. The Conservative candidate was funded to the tune of £31,131. The electorate cast their votes 78,592 to 51,567 in my favour underlining my point that money cannot and should not buy votes.