You may have heard the old cliche that in some areas people would vote – and here I pick a political party at random because it applies to both the major parties in Britain – Labour, even if the candidate was a monkey wearing a red rosette. It could really have been written about me. Even when, in the 1980s, Labour was sliding off to far left electoral oblivion, I still voted for the MP who was crucial in making Labour unelectable, one Tony Benn. I may be in the same position in 2020 if, God forbid, Jeremy Corbyn is still Labour leader. For now it’s too far away and I am still hoping against hope we won’t be. In the meantime, I have another election to consider: who will be the next police commissioner for the Avon and Somerset area?
If you were to put forward the assertion that the commissioner job is the biggest non job going, after the mayor, then you would be right. I was surprised to learn that our existing commissioner, one Sue Mountstevens, had been in post for over three years. I wonder what she has been doing?
Not a lot is the obvious answer and not a lot really is somewhat less than we might expect from someone coining in a mouthwatering £85k per year. So I decided to read Ms Mountstevens’ record in the job and I still don’t quite know what she does. These are her policies:
* Protect residents and police from political interference. Keeping Politics out of Policing
* Prevent crime so you can be safe and feel safe
* Listen and be your voice: working with the Chief Constable for better policing
* Champion Police Officers, PCSO’s and Special Constables in your Neighbourhood
* Be a fierce advocate for victims
* Work with partners to make justice more accessible, faster, simpler
* Ensure your money is spent efficiently, effectively, wisely
Seriously, these are the ‘policies’ on which she is standing, nothing more than a vague set of generic tosh.
With a background in…er…running a company that bakes cakes, I’d love to know how she will achieve these aims, especially the rather important one of preventing crime. I always thought that preventing crime was the province of police officers, but perhaps given the cuts Mountstevens has presided over she will carry out the investigations herself, leaving officers more time to spend at their desk dealing with the reams of extra paperwork non jobs like hers usually create.
We all know that under the current government police numbers are being slashed, with more damaging cuts yet to come. What is Mountstevens’ solution? “Wise prioritisation, partnerships and technology is the way forward” is her answer, apparently with a straight face. What on earth does that mean? For a candidate who attacks “career politicians” in her election address, this is Politics with a capital P. Does she not realise that police officers already have to prioritise crime because there are not enough officers and because murder is rather more urgent on the investigation scale than not returning a library book? Does she not realise that police officers already work closely with partners? Does she not realise that police officers have these new fangled computers these days?
It is hard to conjure sufficient enthusiasm to vote at all in this election, but I sure as hell wouldn’t vote for such a vacuous candidate as Ms Mountstevens. Instead of looking at ways of carrying out the government’s vicious programme of cuts, I’d be wanting the commissioner to be railing against them, but like she is a career baker, she is another career politician (whatever that means) who has done next to nothing since her election in 2012 and clearly promises to do nothing if re-elected for the next three.
I’ll be voting for the monkey with the red rosette because, unlike Mountstevens, I want my commissioner, however useless she or he is, to be on the frontline working with coppers, campaigning to increase their budgets, not cut them, and most of all calling on the government to scrap this ludicrous non job as quickly as possible. I don’t know if my red rosetted monkey agrees with all this, but I’ll give him a chance. If I can be bothered.