By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter
Later this morning the video above will be sent to 300,000 party members and supporters in the latest effort by the Tory machine to increase enthusiasm for the police and crime commissioner elections. The email will also be fronted by the Home Secretary, Theresa May. She will tell recipients that PCCs are “big jobs” and these are “big elections”.
The Tory leadership fears that the elections may suffer from very low turnout. The party had wanted to hold the elections during the normal May cycle of the elections but the Liberal Democrats insisted on November. Clegg has always worried that his party would do poorly in elections where crime was the issue and his party is only contesting half of PCC elections.
The advert below is the Government’s public attempt to increase enthusiasm for the election. I’m not a big TV watcher but I’ve seen it three or four times so I guess the advertising spend is quite substantial. It has even appeared in the expensive commercial breaks between Sybil’s funeral and Mr Bates’ fight for freedom on Downton Abbey:
In yesterday’s Telegraph Nick Herbert, the former policing minister, argued that Boris Johnson’s oversight of the Metropolitan Police in London was proof that police commissioners can work. He also noted that there were plenty of reasons to believe that the police do need more accountability:
“It’s very hard to look at the tragic story of Hillsborough, or failings to investigate child abuse, or the murky business of phone hacking, without concluding that a powerful searchlight needs shining in some dark corners of policing.”
Read his full article here. Also worth a read is this piece from Ian Birrell. Although Mr Birrell warns that turnout could be very poor he salutes the reform. “The victors,” he writes, “will rapidly become among the most recognisable of regional characters, questioned and judged over how they tackle local concerns and respond to crime failures.” And he concludes with this prediction: “By the time the next elections come round in 2016, there will be far greater interest in what will have evolved into high-profile posts.” I hope he’s right but it’s also too early to give up on a reasonable turnout for these elections. The Conservative Party has already delivered about five million newspapers, magazines and postcards to voters about this initiative. Let’s hope that this exciting reform will excite a few more voters before 15th November.