Published on 16 Nov 2012

PR effect helps independents in the police vote

In Surrey, the “Zero Tolerance” candidate, Kevin Hurley, has just been declared the new police commissioner there.

He came through on second preferences, having been in second place on first preferences to the Tory candidate.Of the results I’ve been able to check so far, eight independents were elected on second round voting and four of them got elected, having come second in the first round of voting and then slipped into first place only in the second round with second preferences distributed.

Under first past the post, the Tories would’ve won Surrey, Gloucestershire and Hampshire (Michael Mates was the losing Tory here), Labour would’ve won Warwickshire.

Second round redistribution did for John Prescott in Humberside (ahead in the first round, losing to the Tory in the second), the same story for the Labour candidate in Lancashire.

Overall, the proportional voting system does seem to be helping independents, even if it hasn’t yet allowed them to dominate the elections as early fans of elected commissioners once hoped.

On turnout, the Electoral Commission could be forgiven for saying “we told you so”. The commission warned last year that a stand-alone election for police commissioners in the shorter days of mid-November, not tied to other elections which could increase turnout, risked a very low turnout.

But Lib Dems feared that tacking these police elections onto council elections in the spring might benefit the Tories in the council polls because it would throw the focus of the campaign on to law and order.

The switch helped to bring the cost of these elections up to ¬£75m. That won’t happen again, and Tories are sure turnout will improve when the elections next happen in line with local elections.

Corby is already being seen by some Tories as a sign that they’re not doing that badly and can recover if they can squeeze the UKIP vote.

¬†That’s mixed news for David Cameron. UKIP’s best-ever by-election performance will mean that, in the run-up to the November and December EU summits, he will have some Tory hardliners breathing even more heavily down his neck.

The Lib Dems have rushed out data showing there’s hope and a pulse out there in voter-land if you look for it – council by-elections, voter strength in areas where Lib Dems hold the parliamentary seat, like Tim Farron’s seat.

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5 reader comments

  1. Yorkshire Lass says:

    Why is everyone being so reticent about the numbers of spoilt ballots?

  2. terence humphreys says:

    Given that PR was massively rejected by the electorate in the recent referendum, who slipped it through for this election? I don’t remember being consulted!

  3. Steve Willis says:

    I’m not surprised; I saw this sort of PR effect when my brother-in-law stood for the Senate in Ireland – he had a majority of 1st choice votes, but the 2nd preferences secured the seat for somebody else.

    I find the low turnout interesting – we had a Mayoral election on the same day. For the first time ever, I did not vote because I considered both elections to be a waste of tax-payer money in a time of austerity. For me; staying away was a “none of the above” vote. I also felt both sets of elections brought a gaggle of Me! Me! Me! candidates.

    Do you have any research into; (1) the combined effect of PR coupled with the low turnout , (2) the disenchantment factor i.e. people fed up with out of touch politicians?

  4. Robert Taggart says:

    Good to see the Independent successes – guessing Cricky be happy too ? (Hants / Wight) !

    For the record, oneself did vote – with our bum ! – sat at home !

    Only the Westminster ‘set-up’ can put the Police right – fewer Forces and better Services – please.

  5. Mike Rooke says:

    PR complicated what should have been a simple choice between the candidates. I feel disenfranchised by my vote being made worthless by a system that elected the candidate who came second.

    Nobody has raised the fact that perhaps the very low turnout is a signal that the electorate, across the whole country, is broadly satisfied with the police service in their area, and felt no need for a change of direction or leadership at this time.

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