On November 15th, just over a week ago now, we saw polling stations open for the second time this year for the number of by-elections running up and down the Country and for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections. Once it was announced that the PCC elections were taking place the government found a majority of the electorate asking – what on earth is a PCC? To my recollection, people still do not know. This article is not an attempt to convince you what it is because I cannot do that, as I like many of you did try to do my research. Despite a number of attempts by programmes such as ‘Dispatches’ and the ‘One Show’ to explain it, it did not seem to intrigue anyone nor find them itching to vote to change their community through one of these PCC’s.
Now, because of this, it is clear to understand why there was such a poor voter turnout. A national average of 15%- the worst in peacetime Britain. In the few weeks of the PCC campaign, we also saw the US Elections taking over our screens and social media, which seemed to grasp the UK more than the upcoming PCC elections. This can only mean that Elections need a complete overhaul in the way they are run- surely? No, this is not the case, I am not suggesting an ‘Americanisation’ in campaigning but at least reforms to keep the UK intrigued and more importantly- to know what they are voting for. Especially seeing as the next big national election after 2014 is the 2015 General Election which could see a completely different administration for the subsequent five years.
Although, it could be argued that for those who are politicised themselves and old enough to make a difference at the polling stations saw the PCC elections for what they really were – a Tory plot to politicise the Police force. Which it must be added was a sly and also laughable plot. The Police are a public service not for the hands of politicians.
So, even with the very poor voter turnout, 41 new PCC’s were elected. Of which; 16 Conservative, 13 Labour and 12 Independent. They have now entered their new roles to ‘try and clean up the streets’ but I cannot help my scepticism in think we’ve heard that before, maybe in the Liberal Democrat TV Campaign with the leader himself walking through the streets himself in which he aimed to “clean up British Politics” does that include liars, Nick?
Furthermore, even with the PCC elections being an absolute shambles and the Conservatives gaining a majority of four, which does not even count as a Political majority, it has to be said. This will not reflect in the General Election of 2015, after there is still an economic slump in which the voters will keep firmly in their mind as to the next party of Government.
The last point is going to be one already made but an important one, there needs to be a call to the electorate to vote in 2015 so we do not see averages of turnout like this one again, it is appalling. However, it can be done without the Americanisation of campaigning or ‘image politics’, it should be based on policy, not based on the fact the campaign was ran like the half time show at the American Super bowl.
By Karl Stanley