15 Nov 2011

Lib Dems will not fight police commissioner elections

The latest edition of the excellent Liberator magazine – voicepiece of trouble-making grassroots Lib Dems – has several interesting stories about discontent within the ranks of Nick Clegg’s party.

Perhaps the most important concerns a recent and pretty much unreported decision by the Lib Dem federal executive effectively not to run party candidates in next year’s elections for police commissioners in England and Wales. This is largely because the party hasn’t got enough money.

Local Lib Dems aren’t banned from running candidates, but they won’t get any central fuding if they do so. Instead the Lib Dems may back any suitable independents who come forward. Many activists aren’t very happy about that.

The Lib Dems are not the only bi party with problems. Both Labour and the Conservatives are suddenly facing up to the prospect of fighting elections in vast new constituencies at a time – next October – when no other elections are taking place.

Labour HAS decided to go ahead with selecting candidates, but with little speed, enthusiasm or money. The Conservatives – whose policy it was – seem to be acting even more slowly in deciding what to handle these contests.

I keep asking Labour and Tory people whether anyone is interested in fighting for these jobs, and no names are mentioned – apart from Col Tim Collins, who came forward a few weeks ago, and may end up being the Tory contender in Kent.

The overall national outcome could be pretty unsatisfactory for those who’ve long backed the idea of police commissioners (including David Cameron, an early champion of the idea).

We are heading for lists of very mediocre candidates, fighting almost invisible campaigns, and getting elected on extremely low turnouts. With the possibility of a few rich pickings for UKIP.

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