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Letter: The Role of a Conservative PCC Candidate, Defending the Indefensible

Published on: 17 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 18 Jan, 2021

Charlie Chorico

From: Paul Kennedy

Lib Dem Surrey PCC Candidate

I have not met Charlie Chirico, but I do have some sympathy for her. Having been Conservative candidate for Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) must have been tough, having to defend the indefensible. Why?

a) The PCC role is a failed, unloved experiment in ego politics that a scathing review in 2018 revealed has undermined the confidence and independence of senior police officers (see Daily Mail article: Police chiefs say they are in constant fear of being sacked by ‘ill-equipped and arrogant’ crime commissioners) and

b) Having to follow Conservative policies, and take orders from Conservative ministers who have served Surrey residents so badly over the past five years.

During the term of the present PCC, elected as a Conservative, we have seen deteriorating outcomes in both visible policing and results for vulnerable victims, despite the police element of council tax jumping nearly 30%, if his latest proposed increase is included.

Another burden of being the Conservative candidate is the expectation that they are bound to win in a place like Surrey, despite the lack of enthusiasm from the people for someone who is expected to just toe the party line.

In 2012, the Conservative frontrunner attracted less than 4% of the first-preference votes. Despite narrowly winning the first round with 26% of votes cast, she lost by more than 7,000 votes to an independent, who had earlier tried to be the Conservative candidate, because so many second-preference votes were anti-Conservative.

In a nakedly party political move, Priti Patel is planning to stop the Conservative candidate losing again by abolishing second-preference votes. Instead, she wants to adopt the so-called first-past-the-post system which exploits splits in the anti-Conservative majority to let more Conservative candidates sneak through with just a fraction of the vote.

There are challenges for all candidates. Mine is to draw votes from more non-Conservatives who, like me, want to abolish the post and restore local police boards who can hold the police to account without threatening their independence.

The consequences of not voting are more Conservative cuts, ministerial interference and privatisation. I believe that is why the Liberal Democrat vote more than tripled from 2012 to 2016, pushing Labour into fourth place, and why I believe we can attract even more support this time.

What residents tell me they want now for Surrey is not more ego politics and interference from ministers, but a police force that is professional, properly trained and led, ambitious, to address the issues that really matter to people such as drugs and organised crime, and above all community-based, working with and accountable to local communities to create a visible deterrent to the present epidemic of antisocial behaviour.

None of this will be delivered for the people of Surrey by Conservative policies, or by taking orders from Conservative ministers.

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test 3 Responses to Letter: The Role of a Conservative PCC Candidate, Defending the Indefensible

  1. Maurice Bethell Reply

    January 17, 2021 at 10:33 am

    First and foremost, I wholeheartedly support the proposal of abolishing of the post of Police and Crime Commissioner. It is truly a non-post and just more political interference. There should definitely be a return to the system of police boards which held the police to be more accountable to the local people.

    Secondly, it is nice to see the correct definition given to the police of being a “force”. Over the last 30 years, we have seen too much interference in their role of being crime fighters and attempts to make them more quasi-social workers.

    If they are once again considered a force perhaps we may then see a return to crime-fighting and protection of the general public.

  2. John Perkins Reply

    January 17, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    I agree, we don’t need a PCC and would probably be better off without one

  3. Paul Spooner Reply

    January 18, 2021 at 11:22 am

    Shouldn’t you state that Mr Kennedy is the Lib Dem PCC Candidate for Surrey?

    Paul Spooner is a Conservative borough councillor for Ash South & Tongham

    Editor’s response: Thank you for raising this. We have now received confirmation from Mr Kennedy that he is still the Lib Dem candidate for the PCC post in the election currently scheduled for May next year. The letter has been amended.

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