As the Today programme pointed out this morning, nobody is publicly in favour of crime, so one explanation for the pathetic turnout at the police and crime commissioner elections was that voters were not being offered a choice over anything.
While no-one would seriously run as ‘pro crime’, the ‘anti crime’ candidates I looked at pretty much without exception, regardless of place, and of any party or none, ran on the same platitudes about ‘more police on the beat’, ‘police to pay attention to the whole area’, ‘less anti social behaviour’, ‘less bureaucracy’.
If every candidate is offering the same thing, why vote?
This is the problem with elections for particular services. One of Nick Clegg’s first acts as leader was to call for directly-elected health bodies. This absurd idea would no doubt have seen equally dire turnouts had they ever happened, since few candidates would have used the slogan “Vote Scroggins for More Illnesses”.
We already have elected bodies capable of oversight of the police, health and indeed transport and other services. They are called local authorities, and yesterday’s failed attempt to interest voters in their further fragmentation should be the last.