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Gasp! Shock! Horror! Au contraire; perhaps more accurately descriptive words are “meh”, “so” or “duh” – the PCC elections were nothing different to what we expected.
Low turnout, a high number of elected Independent candidates, and Liberal Democrats no longer showing as the third party, it’s not a surprise. Let’s go through it.
The Electoral Commission warned the Government of a predicted 18.5% turnout but (and here’s probably the biggest surprise of the day), it was even less than that at 15%. Some regions including my own, the West Midlands, which hosts the bustling population of Birmingham, boasted an incredibly low 12%. One ballot station in Newport received not one single ballot paper throughout the day – that was an easy count. With the lowest turnout at 11.6% recorded in Staffordshire and the highest at 20% recorded in Northamptonshire simply demonstrates how apathetic the nation were towards these elections, and who can blame them? It was a disaster and simply shambolic.
30% of winning candidates were unaffiliated to political parties as part of their election campaigns. And again, this is no surprise. There was huge hostility towards the party politicisation of the police force so of course Independent candidates were going to thrive in these. And, in all honesty, well done to them! Aside from that, it’s perhaps not a surprise that Tories still managed to gain a simple majority of the positions (40%) despite their continually decreasing reputation. Why? Simply because this policy will be most popular with their party members, hence, their party members will probably make the bulk of voters. Other political party members will be ambivalent, not necessarily have a candidate fielded from their party or decide not to vote in protest.
UKIP have risen to the third party – well again, that’s not surprising for two reasons. Firstly, it’s difficult to argue that the Liberal Democrats have not lost all credibility they may have ever had, even to their own party members. I won’t dwell on this point. Secondly, the collapse of the Euro and the continuing use of our funds to bailout Eurozone countries is less than dissatisfactory to the electorate. The crisis is not one we can ignore, and our own financial difficulties are often blamed on this. So it’s no surprise that the electorate are increasingly supporting a party that wants to distance the UK from Europe as much as possible, and as the three main parties are not as committed to this cause, there is just the one party to turn to. UKIP are already the second largest party representing the UK in the European Parliament. Before long, the dissatisfied right-wing supporters of the Conservative party are sure to migrate to UKIP and increase their representation in the European Parliament in 2014, and perhaps the Commons in 2015.
So just one question remains; will the Government continue commencing this ridiculous policy, or will they reverse it? The elected PCCs begin their roles on Thursday; they will get paid between £65,000 and £100,000; this election cost over £75 million, and; the majority of them only have 7% of the complete electorate’s vote.
Of course, this Government will sit them out until 2016 – but will they continue after that? That’s something that could be a surprise.