So, we have the elections for the Police and Crime Commissioners coming up on the 15 November. You can see the line-up of chaps (and yes, it is all chaps) for the Notts job here. I'm claiming this post as not 'off-topic' because as far as the police are concerned, Nottingham City is included in Nottinghamshire.
So, I'm somewhat ambivalent as to whether PCCs are a good idea. I have reservations that having a high profile single person being elected will lead to populist policing policies and of course, there is the danger that policing becomes a party political plaything.
But the thing is, they are happening whatever you or I think. This is not like the elected mayor question, this is not a referendum on whether Notts will have a PCC. Our government has 'benevolently' decided on our behalf that a PCC is what we are going to have and whether 20 or 200,000 people vote in this election, there will be a man in post on the morning of the 16th.
So, in my view we are in a damage limitation exercise. Long-term readers will know I am not a fan of not voting or spoiling your ballot paper (though I confess I'm really struggling to think of what to do in the next general election). So here are my recommendations of who to vote for, using the time honoured principles of picking the least worst option.
Now we have four candidates, Labour, Tory and two Independents. Now, starting from the point of view that letting mainstream party politicians get their mitts directly on the police is a no-no, that leaves us with the two Independents. My view on this is that Labour's candidate, former MP Paddy Tipping, is, according to what I've heard, very much on the 'useful idiot' wing of the Labour Party and, given that there will also be 'Police and Crime Panels' including members of the force area's local councils 'scrutinising' their PCC, Tipping is likely to spend his entire term with JoCo's hand up his arse.
So, the two Independents then, Raj Chandran and Malcolm Spencer. Firstly Chandran is a former Tory PPC and, although he says he is no longer a member of the party, he is likely to still be a Tory at heart. More worryingly perhaps, he happens to be a Freemason. Quite why anybody connected with the Police is still allowed to join such secretive boys' clubs is beyond my reckoning, suffice to say that in my mind, this disqualifies him from getting my vote.
So, without even going into their individual policies, we are left with one candidate that I can conceivably imagine voting for, let's hope he's not a horror story eh? In fact Spencer is a former copper himself and appears to be proposing nothing that will frighten the horses policy wise. My main concern about him is that he doesn't appear to have any experience of high level leadership so may be at risk of being dominated by both the small and large 'p' politicians. Still, as far as running the police is concerned, solid and conventional beats frothing ideologue any day of the week.
So, not exactly a ringing endorsement then but I hope I've presented a reasonably rational argument for going out to put your cross on the piece of paper. Turnout is expected to be very low so there is a real likelihood of your vote making a difference.
And remember, there are a lot of Tories out in the County and they are probably the people most likely to vote...