25 Jan 2012

Former ministers flock to police commissioner jobs

The former Treasury and Northern Ireland minister Jane Kennedy today announced she is going for the Labour nomination for the new job of Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside.

Kennedy served as a junior minister during of most of the Blair and Brown years, serving in six different government departments.  If she wins the Labour nomination for Merseyside (and no other strong contenders have yet emerged), she would be hot favourite to win post in the elections due on 15 November.  And she has some familiarity with police matters as the Northern Ireland minister with responsibility for security and justice matters, from 2001 to 2004.

Kennedy’s announcement follows strong hints from the former Deputy Prime Minister Lord (John) Prescott that he will run for police commissioner on Humberside.

Prescott told a colleague yesterday that he is “80 per cent” likely to stand, and that has been confirmed to me by a close source.  I understand that he is just awaiting the outcome of the judicial review of his complaint against the Metropolitan Police over phone-hacking – expected within the next few days.

He also needs to discuss the decision properly with his wife Pauline.  The deadline for him to submit his nomination papers to the Labour party is 17 February.

But Prescott faces a much more formidable battle than Kennedy.  The Humberside seats collectively voted Conservative at the 2010 election – by a margin of about 30,000.  But under the Supplementary Vote system (a variation of AV) used for the police commissioner elections, the Prescott camp hope they could pick up the second preference votes of Liberal Democrats.  How ironic that one of the arch-defenders of the First Past the Post electoral system should be hoping to rely on what is a variation of the Alternative Vote he greatly denounced.

Other former Labour ministers hoping to become police commissioners include Alun Michael (South Wales), Paddy Tipping (Nottinghamshire) and James Plaskitt (Warwickshire).

Alun Michael would have to resign his seat as an MP if he was elected.  But under the rules John Prescott would be able to keep his place in the house of Lords.

Other names to have reached my attention: Linda McAvan, the Labour MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, has dismissed to me a rumour that she might stand in one of the police areas in her patch.

Barry Coppinger, a Labour councillor from Middlesbrough, and a former member of the area police authority, has confirmed to me that he’s thinking of running in Cleveland.

Hazel Blears has confirmed to me that she is NOT a contender for Greater Manchester.

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