Sunday, 8 January 2012

Alun Michael seeks to be Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales.

It seems that Cardiff South and Penarth MP Alun Michael has announced he will seek nomination as Labour’s candidate for the new role of Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales.

However it appears that  if he was successfully nominated he would have to resign his seat  forceing a Byelection before standing so he would not have a fall back position  as he did in 1999 when he was the Labour establishment choice to lead the party in the Welsh assembly.

He was elected for the Top Up Seat of Mid and West Wales (thanks in part to Plaid winning LlanelI) but stayed on as member for Cardiff South and Penarth only to find that with only 28 seats Labour did not have an overall majority and when eight month old National Assembly for Wales  when faced with the likely success of a vote of no confidence against him.Which Plaid engineered and in the light of the controversial leadership election twelve months earlier these events were widely perceived as a snub to the Prime Minister himself who had championed Michael over his challenger he  resigned from the Assembly and went back to the Commons

The role of these Police and Crime Commissioner has been examined in depth by Click on Wales here but although the new commissioner will have significant powers over budgets and holding the Chief Constable to account they will not be able to direct where resources such as police officers should be deployed.

So anyone running a US style "Clean up Crime" campaign will be seriously misleading the electorate..

Nevertheless its a worrying factor of the Politicisation of the police  in the UK and the entry of Alun Michael into these elections emphases.this.

To be fair his press statement  does say.

“In a series of difficult and challenging roles I have always looked for new and better ways of doing things, and as the police face massive cuts – which in my view come too deep and too fast – it is more important than ever before to ensure that police work is clearly focused, and that the downward trend in crime which has been achieved in the South Wales Police area is maintained in the future.

“Violence has been cut more in Cardiff than in equivalent cities in England because a science-led partnership approach has been adopted, and knowing the facts I feel safe in the city centre – but as media coverage showed last year, rowdy and unruly behaviour makes people feel unsafe. So we need to go beyond cutting crime to build public confidence and change relationships.”
So he begins his campaign on a largely progressive  not; But as the election approaches promoted by a Tabloid media calling for voters to support "Hang and Flog" them candidates. It is likely the majority of those seeking the position will move to far more punitive rhetoric and considering the last Labour  governments kneejerk reaction to such calls under Home Secretaries (all of whom were far from liberal) and who Alun Michael worked under. I epect him to make more and more right wing law and order statements.

The chances of aliberal progressive candidate being endorsed beyond the Independent and Guardian  seems remote .

The real danger for Alun Michael however is that the public may simply not vote on political lines and seek a commisioner who is Independent of a political party. If Alun was to lose he would have nowhere to go and he may have made his last gamble.


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