By Paul Goodman
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I asked recently whether or not the Party will stand candidates to be police commissioners. There are two extreme options: that Conservative candidates should stand for all vacancies, and that such candidates should stand for none of them – leaving the door open for Party-supported independents.
A few weeks on, I gather that no decision has yet been taken. (Let alone on how Tory candiates will be selected, if it comes to that.) But there is news this morning which may point towards the outcome. Colonel Tim Collins, best known for his eve-of-war speech to troops before 2003, wants to stand as the Conservative candidate for the police commissioner post in Kent.
Col Collins has said in today's Sunday Telegraph that "there is a job for someone energetic and who is willing to work with the chief constable…It is important that it doesn't become just a talking shop for knackered old policemen or a sunset gig for some trough-loving councillor" (a remark that will endear him to those who may be asked to support his candidacy).
Collins has served in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, and now runs a firm training foreign police officers. He claims to be inspired by the achievements of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who reduced crime through tougher policing. Collins has reportedly been courted by the party previously, and the placing of the story in a leading centre-right paper today is no accident.
This model of officially-supported independents is one that the party leadership has flirted with before – remember how Greg Dyke was approached to be a Tory/LibDem candidate for the London Mayoralty before Team Cameron swung their weight behind Boris. It is almost certainly a pointer to what it hopes will happen next and elsewhere.