The new Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands is Labour’s Bob Jones. This is disappointing, but not altogether surprising looking at the political make up of the seven local authorities which comprise the area – Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley, Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry and Sandwell.
The Conservative candidate Matt Bennett came second – but in Birmingham the results were announced by Ward, and in Edgbaston Ward, I’m delighted to report that Matt was the victor by 102 votes in a tiny turn out of not much over 10%
The turn out was low everywhere and now I see the Electoral Commission is to conduct an enquiry into this. What a ridiculous waste of money. I think we all know the reasons why the turn out was so poor:
Firstly, the election was held in November when it’s cold and dark.
Secondly, many people said they did not agree with “politicising the police”. In fact the police were previously run by unelected Police Authorities which were made up of JPs, lay people and – wait for it – politicians (each Council nominated Councillors onto the old Police Authority). But so invisible have they been, that I suspect many people did not realise this, and therefore thought it was something new for a politician to be having a say in setting police priorities etc.
Thirdly, there was no “free post” for candidates which is a medium used at General Elections to send an election address to all electors without the individual candidates having to get their supporters to deliver them in person (they get delivered by the postman instead). Independents without an established party network to help them would never be able to deliver a leaflet through every door from Wolverhampton to Coventry inclusive during a period of a few weeks. It’s an impossible task. And although the political parties did deliver leaflets, this appears to have been patchy. For example, we delivered Conservative leaflets in Edgbaston – but I never saw a Labour one. While in neighbouring Sandwell, a friend had a Labour leaflet – but nothing from the Conservatives.
There was supposed to be a Home Office booklet delivered through every door telling people more about the elections. I never got it, and I know lots of other people who didn’t get it either, so that idea doesn’t seem to have worked.
So the absence of literature, the cold wintry weather and the fact that the new role and what it was replacing was not fully understood, are all obvious reasons why the elections failed to achieve large turn outs.
Despite all the negatives, it was pleasing to win in Edgbaston Ward though, and to see the Conservative candidate win against Lord Prescott in Humberside! A great result!