This time in two days Lancashire should know the identity of the man chosen to be the county’s highest profile, and highest paid, politician when the votes for the police and crime commissioner are finally counted.
It should not take the vote counters too long to tot up the polling cards as this appears to be an election very few people either care or know about which considering the introduction of commissioners is intended to signal a new dawn in policing is a national disgrace. One of the main problems that the public profile of the four candidates is as high as a Newsnight investigation is credible. While not suggesting elections are only worthwhile if the candidate is as high profile as, say, H’Angus the Monkey, the football mascot elected Mayor of Hartlepool, or former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, who is running for commissioner in Humberside, it does help if the public has an idea who they are voting for. That said I would personally vote for a six foot ape over Two Jags every time. The most common complaint about tomorrow’s election is from people who say they know nothing about it as they have received nothing through their letterbox to help them decide which way to vote, let alone had a knock on the door from a man wearing a rosette and stupid grin. It is not solely the fault of the runners and riders in this race that nobody knows who they are because they appear to have been abandoned by the establishment who ushered in the change from the respected police authority system to having a single individual responsible for ensuring the police has a democratic voice. Yes, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Home Secretary Teresa May popped into Preston to endorse their candidates, but these fleeting appearances were three weeks ago and we have had nothing since.
During a parliamentary election it is not unusual for a constituency to receive multiple visits from political big hitters but apart from the odd press release there has been silence. There will be many determined not to lose their vote who will tick the appropriate box, realising failure to do so could result in a man being handed a £75,000 salary and not inconsiderable power with a tiny public mandate.
There was much controversy surrounding police commissioners when the plan was first mooted with concerns the vote could be hijacked by extremists which, thankfully, has not happened here. But we have been left with something far more dangerous: a largely disengaged public who neither cares nor knows who or what they are voting for? And for what? Another box ticked by the Government in their bid to ‘streamline’ public office. I have never disguised my disdain for folk who fail to use their right to vote – it is what my grandfathers fought for – but I wouldn’t blame anyone if they did not visit the polling station tomorrow.