The elections for Police and Crime Commissioners are taking place on November 15th for every police area in England and Wales apart from London.
Michael Crick, the left wing Channel 4, pundit has already declared they will be a flop:
We are heading for lists of very mediocre candidates, fighting almost invisible campaigns, and getting elected on extremely low turnouts.
In fact we will have a better idea of the calibre of candidates in the next month or two after the parties deadlines pass for candidates to enter and the selection races get under way. Furthermore these are elections where independents can expect to do well.
But already there are plenty of signs that Crick will be wrong.
In Wales, for instance, it looks as if there will be some high profile battles. Rod Richards, the former Conservative leader in the Welsh Assembly, plans to challenge Nick Bourne for the post of police commissioner for Dyfed-Powys. This would be an area where the Conservatives would hope to win.
Then we have the Labour MP Alun Michael, a former cabinet minister and First Secretary for Wales. He wants to stand for South Wales.
Labour candidates have a disadvantage as their Party has said the elections are "a waste of money" (although money is being saved by scrapping the toothless police authorities) and the "wrong priority". Yvette Cooper thinks the elections are "deeply irresponsible." Jack Dromey thinks they are "sick."
Their case is that the police authorities provided the necessary accountability. But who has heard of Cllr Russell Roberts? He is the Chairman of the South Wales Police Authority for which role he is paid over £22,000 in allowances. There is no particular reason why we should have heard of him. The Authority he chairs just holds meetings. It doesn't making any difference to policing in South Wales. It is a boneless wonder. Alun Michael would not be likely to resign as an MP to be chairman of such an oufit. But he clearly reckons that being a Police and Crime Commissioner would be a real job, a chance to make a difference.