Police Elections: turning a flagship policy into farce
The Electoral Reform Society has said the Government has some serious questions to answer, as the Prime Minister in this week's PMQs brushed off criticism of the expected low turnout in the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
Mr Cameron echoed the Government’s official line-to-take that first elections are ‘always difficult’. The Electoral Reform Society, which has conservatively estimated turnout at 18.5 per cent, has said evidence from previous ‘first time’ elections clearly demonstrate this argument isn’t a 'get out of jail free card'.
The Prime Minister's comments follow a week of chaos as £350,000-worth of English-only ballot papers went to the shredder in Wales. That's our money. And this week many voters are just beginning to receive direct mail from authorities - some on the same day that voter registration closes.
His Grace has now received his official voting card, but has heard absolutely nothing about or from any of the candidates in his area. Frankly, this is appalling. Yes, it might be available on the internet, but if His Grace can't be bothered to do a search, how many of the cynical and un-engaged will bother?
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society said:
“To make one mistake in this election could have been regarded as misfortune. To make the dozen or so blunders the Home Office have made to date just looks careless.The Society has examined turnout in first-time elections for English mayors. Katie Ghose added: “A 'difficult first election’ does not give the Government a get out of jail free card on low turnout. The relatively low figures achieved in first time elections for English mayors are a million miles away from November’s expected numbers. The Government isn’t just repeating past mistakes. It’s thrown in some new ones for good measure.”
“There have been epic mistakes in every last detail of this election – from timing that will keep most voters at home, to huge deposits that have kept serious candidates away, and now ballot papers which will be shortly heading into landfill.
“The UK Government has turned a flagship policy into farce. We have a role charged with serious powers that is now at risk of becoming a joke.
“The Home Office have obliged with a few videos and a website, but this has all come too late in the day. Few people know this election is happening, and even fewer really understand the nature of the role.
“There are plenty of big questions that the Government will have to answer post-election.”
Here is some usful data on 'first-time elections' – the turnout for mayoral elections in England:
Watford 2002 – 37%So, a projected turnout of 18.5 per cent for PCCs may be seen to be far more about Government incompetence than a little 'first-time difficulty'. It's almost as if they didn't really believe in devolution, localism, or trusting communities of people..
Doncaster 2002 – 27%
Hartlepool 2002 – 29%
Lewisham 2002 – 25%
Middlesbrough 2002 – 42%
North Tyneside 2002 – 42%
Newham 2002 – 26%
Bedford 2002 – 25%
Hackney 2002 – 26%
Mansfield 2002 – 19%
Stoke on Trent 2002 - 27%
Torbay 2005 – 24%
Tower Hamlets 2010 – 26%
Salford 2012 – 26%
Liverpool 2012 – 31%