In the Media

Police Commissioners: Time for an Ann Widdicombe recall?|Alan Travis

PUBLISHED December 2, 2011

Labour and Tories want to find candidates for next year's police commissioner elections but who is going to stand?

Some stirrings of interest this week in who might stand as police and crime commissioners when they are elected to oversee police forces outside London next November.

Labour's national executive has asked local parties to go ahead with their selection of candidates to stand or the 41 commissioners jobs. So far there has not been a rush of candidates. Channel Four's Michael Crick has suggested that ex-Labour ministers, Alun Michael and Paddy Tipping, are thinking about running for the job.

The police minister, Nick Herbert, is reported to have summoned 41 backbench Mps from each area to a meeting and asked them to go and find Tory candidates willing to stand on their patch. There is even talk of the Conservatives holding primaries to find a suitable candidate but at a cost of ?50,000 a go it is thought there are few local party associations willing to foot the bill.

The Liberal Democrats meantime are said to have abandoned the idea of putting up candidates at all on the grounds that they can't afford to contest elections in which they have little hope of winning even a single seat.

Labour are banking on the likelihood that they will win all the commissioner jobs in the north and across Wales. The Tories assume they will win those in the south of England. This leaves the few Midlands forces as the main battleground.

But it is going to take more than a few ex-Labour ministers and former police authority chairman throwing their hats in the ring to generate much public excitement about voting on a wet Thursday next November. Some big beasts are going to be needed to stir media interest.

Former Home Office ministers, such as Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears, would fit the bill but they are unlikely to be tempted. I am told that the selection of the only declared Conservative candidate, Col Tim Collins, who believes the police should be ratcatchers, not social workers, is not yet a done deal by the Kent Conservatives.

Perhaps they could tempt Anne Widdicombe out of political retirement. It is going need someone to put these elections on the map if the public are going to be persuaded to take an interest. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds