Flying Visit

I’m still at home at 10am on a weekday, which is unusual, but that’s because I’m soon going to be doing the familiar schlepp to Heathrow airport in order to get a flight to Copenhagen. The purpose of this little trip is to participate in a PhD examination at the Niels Bohr Institute. I’ve never taken part in a Thesis Defence in the Danish system before, although I’ve done many equivalent examinations elsewhere, so I’m quite looking forward to finding out how it works. Will it be much different from the system we have in the UK? Probably, as it is a much more public occasion. Will that necessarily make it better? I don’t know. I was reading the thesis last night, actually, and it’s very interesting which is another reason to look forward to the occasion. I might even get time for some shopping too.

Anyway, before going to the airport I am going to pop along to the local polling station. Today is the day for the Election of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the South Wales Police Area. I’m going to the polling station not because I have a burning desire to vote – the list of candidates is extremely uninspiring – but because I feel I should register a protest at this farcical waste of public money at what is supposed to be a time of austerity. The political class in this country has never been held in lower esteem than at present and the last thing we need is more politicians, helping themselves to six-figure salaries at taxpayers’ expense.  More politicians does not mean more democracy. We already have local council elections, Welsh Assembly elections, General (Parliamentary) Elections and European Parliament Elections. We don’t need any more! This Election is a complete waste of time and money.

I intend, therefore, to visit the polling station and, instead of putting a cross in a box, write a strongly (but politely) worded message voicing my opinion on the matter thus spoiling my ballot paper. It will be the first time I’ve ever done such a thing, but this is the first time we’ve had such a stupid election.

10 Responses to “Flying Visit”

  1. I wholly agree that elected police commissioners are unnecessary. The old system of oversight by boards of local councillors worked reasonably.

    I live in London where there is no police commissioner election. However, if I did have a vote, I’d probably spoil the ballot paper by writing “ABSTAIN” across it.

    However, I believe more elections are necessary within Britain: we should have the right to elect the second chamber, which currently is the House of Lords mostly composed of people appointed through the patronage of political parties. And there is also the issue of whether England should have an elected parliament.

    • Presumably you surmise, correctly, that a Parliament elected without PR does not qualify as an elected Parliament.

    • I regard a parliament elected without proportional election as an elected parliament, but one that not properly representative of the people. It is an elected parliament, but one that is not properly elected.

      One interesting feature of the police commissioner elections in England and Wales today is that they use the alternative vote system, with each voter being given a first preference and a second preference vote. This system was rejected for elections to the House of Commons in a referendum last year, with the alternative being the status quo – the first-past-the-post system.

      • Some things shouldn’t be decided by referendum, such as whether to have a voting system which would be more just rather than favour the major parties (which of course a majority of the electorate supports). A referendum is the last resort. The default should be representative democracy (simply because division of labour is necessary) but even before “majority rules” there should be basic principles which cannot be put out of force even by a majority, i.e. a parliament should not be able to pass laws with no rational basis (everyone has to wear yellow trousers on Thursdays), which discriminate on the basis of race, gender etc. I think PR is one of the “first principles” which has a validity which shouldn’t be subject to majority vote.

      • Yes, absolutely.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    I am all in favour of greater accountability by the police to the people. Government pays their salary so they tend to answer to government, but government it itself only a partial enactment of the will of the people and the broader the accountability of the police, the better.

    However I agree that this should not be a(nother) paid position.

  3. It’s another layer of government. It’s making the apolitical political. Members of the police are not allowed to take any active part in politics. Respecting their right to vote in general, isn’t there a conflict when they vote to politicize something which is supposedly restricted to them?

  4. Michael Kenyon Says:

    The winner of the Nottinghamshire area had to pay back expenses when he was an MP, he also found time to do a second paid job as his MP’s salary and the public paying off his mortgage were not enough to cover his outgoings.

    A very honest man, just the sort we need to uphold law and order!

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Presumably more people could be bothered to vote for him than anybody else. Were the other candidates even worse?

    • telescoper Says:

      Apparently, two of the successful “independent” PCC candidates are fully paid up Liberal Democrats. I think that’s a bit dodgy, although I can understand why they wouldn’t like to admit their affiliation.

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