How do you rig an election in plain view of everyone? You make the election in a time of year when its cold and wet and not particularly appealing to go to a polling station, particularly if your elderly, infirm, disabled or have to take your small children with you. You then don’t spend very much money in telling the electorate that the election is on and more importantly what it is about. You don’t tell people who the candidates are and restrict much of it to the internet so those who don’t have internet can’t access the information. (Even though in the Mayoral election, there is booklet of candidates).
But even before the election gears up, you restrict candidates standing by making the entry criteria much harder than that even for a general election, by needing 10 times as many signatures, by needing to have a huge deposit (which when more independents were supposed to be encouraged) and then the paperwork…… (don’t get me started on the silly bits of electoral hoop jumping).
So if ever an Election was set up to be a damp squib, it is the Police and Crime Commissioner, essentially it is a rigged election, every barrier to candidates and to voting has been deployed. So where does that leave us? I think it is up to us to show the Government we will not stand for their bulling tactics. If you have not sent in your postal vote then get it in, and if you (like me) go to the ballot box, make sure you take the 10 minutes or so to do that on Thursday.
When we vote we have 4 candidates to choose from in Gloucestershire. For me the choice is a logical one, here is why;
You could vote for the Liberal Democrat Candidate, Alistair Cameron, but you may have voted Lib Dem 2 years ago in the General Election, thinking they were an alternative and look at what we have got now, they are as guilty as the Tories in bringing the Police Force to its current, massively overstretched state that it currently is in.
You could vote for the Conservative Candidate, Victoria Atkins. Many people expect her to get a good turn out because of who her dad is and the fact that she wears the Blue Badge, though that hasn’t worked for her in the past few times she has tried to stand. However, when you think about it, it is the Try Government who is trying to privatise the Police, so all a Tory PCC will do is deliver what Theresa May tell her to. Given her current job, I am wondering just how much time will she dedicate to this role, though again, how much time does it take to say yes to whatever the Government wants.
The Independent Candidate, Martin Surl is a very credible candidate. Being the only independent candidate he is an obvious choice for a protest vote. He is quite proactive and has some quite good messages. I only have 2 criticisms really, one is that he is an ex policeman and I feel that this role needs someone a bit more objective, will look at the force with “innocent eyes” and is willing to ask the hard questions. I feel that in this role, an Ex Policeman may cause some conflict of interest if they didn’t make it in their career as far as they would like, or could overlook institutional issues because they were involved in it without realising it. That said, from his personal qualities, I do think he is the second best candidate and he will be getting my second preference vote.
I think Rupi Dhanda is the best candidate. She has got a lot of experience in the Justice System, being a solicitor. She works hard in the community and having been in Gloucestershire for many years, really understands the issues within our community. She has worked closely with the Police and is trusted by the front line. While she has not stood for anything Political before, she has a unique perspective on the ins and outs of the Political system so knows where to go and who to ask to get things done. More than anything else, she is a working mum and really believes in working with people. She will take our views and concerns and act on them.
I am very proud to have been campaigning for Rupi, and will be up to the Close of Poll on Thursday. I urge you to not give in to the avoidance tactics of the Government and make the trip to the Polling Station and use your first preference vote to protect our Police Force and really work on behalf of Gloucestershire, not just be a Yes person for the Government.