This election for police chief is Strictly for the experts

By Charlotte Hofton

Published on Friday, November 09, 2012 - 11:14


THE VIEW FROM HERE THE RIGHT to vote is a precious freedom and we should never forget those who fought for suffrage in this country, often enduring imprisonment and privation for the sake of future generations.

So I have sympathy with those who believe it is our duty to vote, some also advocating a law making it compulsory to do so. I would possibly be in favour of a compulsory vote if ballot papers included the NOTA option ("none of the above") but overall I like to think we live in a country where we also have freedom not to vote if we don’t want to.

I am certainly glad we don’t have to vote in next week’s Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

Whose loopy idea was it to hold this contest? Did the home secretary have a visioning session with Simon Cowell and Bruce Forsyth, coming up with this pop-cop compo, something for our dumbed-down society to enjoy midweek after the weekend’s X Factor and Strictly polls?

This election is ill-conceived on so many fronts, it makes one’s head hurt even thinking about it.

The public is simply not qualified to judge who might be the best person for the job. Might as well get them to vote on who should get the neurosurgeon’s post or be head of statistical research at Oxford.

The appointment should be made by a panel of highly qualified and impartial experts who actually understand about policing. As far as this election is concerned, however, we are all apparently experts. But there is a crucial difference between knowing what we want our police to do and knowing how this might be achieved in a professional context.

Still, our candidates all seem to have magic wands.

"I will have zero tolerance of anti-social behaviour and I will not cut police numbers. Simple!" says UKIP candidate Stephen West. Yeah, right.

Why, then, did nobody think of this simple idea before?

Having been asked to vote for something we don’t know enough about, we are then presented with an overwhelmingly political scenario.

How did this happen? Did the impartial goddess of justice whip off her blindfold and stick a party rosette into her lapel?

Of the six candidates in the Hampshire and IW election, five belong to political parties and will thus bring their own personal baggage into the ring.

There’s just one independent candidate, Simon Hayes, who, according to his website, is the bee’s knees. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? The rest of us are utterly vague about Mr Hayes.

There are a couple of candidates we do know something about, though. Michael Mates is the Conservative candidate.

He’s 78, which is the ideal age to start a new career, not to mention having his old-age pension boosted by a salary of more than £65,000 if he wins. He was a close chum of convicted fraudster Asil Nadir, on one occasion giving him a watch inscribed "Don’t let the bastards grind you down", and had to resign as a junior minister because of this friendship.

Oh yes, and he made money on giving up the tenancy to his taxpayer-funded flat in Westminster.

So he sounds perfect for the job. 

A job which shouldn’t be decided by the public, fought over in the political arena by an extremely mixed bag of applicants, none of them of any particular interest to the Island. Was this what suffrage militants had in mind? I doubt it.

There’s likely to be a low turn-out for next week’s poll. I do hope so, because with enough voter apathy, there might be no more of these absurd elections and we can all concentrate on Strictly Come Dancing, a contest which makes more sense and has much better contestants.

Editor's footnote: The County Press newspaper version of this item named Keith House as the LibDem candidate for Hampshire and the IW in these elections, and commented on his expenses claims. Cllr House is not the LibDem candidate. The Lib Dem candidate is David Goodall and the expenses claims did not relate to him. We apologise for the error.

Greenwich Mean Time, Summer Time, Battery Saving Time

As I noted last week, I had the usual problems turning my clocks back at the end of British summer time.

I didn’t think, however, I’d encounter any more trouble when I bought a very simple little wall clock, complete with a basic mechanism and one battery.

Not many instructions, either, except this one which has me completely baffled. "Remove battery when clock is not in use."

Just when is my clock "not in use"? When I’m not looking at it?

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