Well. I have to admit being immensely disappointed in John Pye.
“I stood down as the Conservative candidate for police and crime commissioner when too many local activists opposed my determination not to join the Party,” Mr Pye, a former air commodore in the RAF said today.”
It’s certainly true that many of us had strong reservations about a non-member of the Conservative party standing as the Conservative candidate. That’s hardly an unexpected position. But plenty were prepared to live with his decision – some even supported it – because he had been democratically chosen by the party members. I said at the time that some elements of the party were behaving unreasonably. But the fact is that John Pye was elected and accepted that nomination. To then drop it on a whim the minute it gets a bit hard – particularly when the reason it is hard is because of your own stubborn position – is completely understandable, but not particularly inspirational. So let’s at least keep some perspective here.
“Whilst my personal values are Conservative I am not a politician. The governance of policing must be impartial and non-political.
This is what John told me too. I believed it. Or, to be fair, I believed that he believed it. But now I am forced to question my position. If your personal values are “Conservative” then you should probably be supporting the Conservative candidate, rather than throwing your lot in with an independent who is – apparently – an ex-Labour councillor and therefore (one might imagine) probably not very close to your ideological position. How unbiased and apolitical such a person might be is surely a matter worthy of consideration?
Worst still, John Pye then goes on to make a bunch of statements which are, in my opinion, completely wrong. He suggests that policing should not be “political.” Except that everything is political. Politics, whether officially branded or more subtle, underlies everything we do, every decision we take. It is naive to suggest that policing is any different. What I think John means is that a PCC should not be bound to a party whip. My response to that is – they aren’t! Where there is no “group” there is no party whip. Unless he or she was an utter weakling. They will be individuals entirely capable of taking their own positions, and those that best benefit the community as a whole. All this: “because I’ve got a membership card I’m part of the hivemind,” is simple scaremongering, its poorly-argued, and in my humble opinion it is wrong. It certainly doesn’t match what I know about local politics. All this before we even consider the fact that PCC’s won’t be directly involved in operational policing anyway! Their job is at the strategic policy end – an area that is and always has been deeply mired in politics.
The newspaper article suggests that there is some fear that political activists would expect some “special” considerations from a successful candidate. What utter nonsense. I don’t know anybody who expects special considerations from the PCC. We don’t even get special considerations within our own council party groups. Anybody who thinks we do surely hasn’t been reading the news these last few years. But even if that were true, even if activists thought they’d have a special red Hotline to the PCC – so what? That wouldn’t force the Police & Crime Commissioner to submit to their demands. Again, unless he or she was an utter weakling.
One thing Mr Pye is right about is when he says: “The introduction of PCCs is the biggest change to the oversight of our police in decades.” Yes, it is. It is a policy designed to remind the police quite directly who they serve by putting at their head a person who must stand for reelection every few years on the back of their performance. It is a policy designed to reconnect the police with the electorate at large, making them directly accountable in a way they never have been before. No wonder so many are so opposed to it. John Pye seems to be advocating just “more of the same” which leaves me wondering about his commitment to the policy at all. Ansar Ali has been an Independent Member of Cambridgeshire Police Authority since 2008? Well whoop-de-do. No disrespect to its former members, bit if we thought the police authority should remain in charge then surely we could have just kept them?
The fact that John Pye has chosen to take this position has me questioning my own judgement. I was certainly convinced by him at the time. But we can all be wrong. His decision to support an independent, and his odd positions on the policy of police and crime commissioner makes me think that this time I did call it wrong. Given how quickly this man with “conservative values” has apparently forgotten them I’m beginning to wonder if the man I thought I saw was just an illusion.
John Pye chose to step down from his candidacy. He may feel things were hard – and he’d be right – but in the end it was his decision. He wasn’t sacked – the activists did not have the power to do so. All they had the power to do was withdraw some of their time and resources from his campaign if he couldn’t engender enough enthusiasm to convince them not to. One of the things we Conservatives believe in is personal responsibility. Which means not blaming everybody else if you do not succeed. Even without some association support John Pye would still have been in a better position than any independent in regards to campaigning resources.
John Pye made it clear he was a man of conviction and wouldn’t be moved. I respected that. But then he moved himself! He said he was a conservative, but now he swings wildly to the left in choosing a long-time socialist to support. If these are convictions, then the word has taken on some strange new meaning of which I am not overly familiar.test Filed under PCC | Comments (9)