76% of Lib Dems reject elected police commissioners – but 73% want there to be Lib Dem candidates

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Three-quarters of Lib Dem members oppose new PCC posts

LDV asked: Elections will be held on 15 November to choose Police and Crime Commissioners who will replace police authorities currently in charge of 41 forces in England and Wales. Do you support or oppose the introduction of elected PCCs?

    15% – I support elected Police and Crime Commissioners
    76% – I oppose elected Police and Crime Commissioners
    9% – Don’t know

Little doubt here about the views of most Lib Dem members one week before the elections to the posts of elected police and crime commissioners throughout England and Wales: three-quarters are opposed, with just 15% in support (including, ahem, me).

However, 73% want Lib Dems to stand for election as PCCs

The Lib Dems are contesting 23 of the 41 elections to choose Police and Crime Commissioners. Which of these views is closest to your own?

    18% – I oppose elected PCCs and believe the Lib Dems should *not* stand candidates
    59% – I oppose elected PCCs but believe the Lib Dems should stand candidates in these elections
    14% – I support elected PCCs and believe the Lib Dems should stand candidates in these elections
    1% – I support elected PCCs but believe the Lib Dems should *not* stand candidates
    8% – Don’t know

Lib Dem members may not be taken with the new elected PCC posts — but that doesn’t mean you think we should sit them out. In total, 73% back the party standing candidates in the elections compared to just 19% who oppose the idea. Here’s a sample of your comments…

I oppose the introduction of elected PCCs because I believe that is too much power in the hands of one person. Also it introduces politics into the delivery of policing which I think is wrong. Politicians make laws, the police enforce them and should do so free from political influence.

Huge waste of money and totally unnecessary. Claimed they’ll be “independent”, yet most candidates are party political (independents must find large deposit). The calibre of those in my area (Suffolk) doesn’t impress. I hear the commissioner will have the option of appointing a deputy, at a further cost of around £30,000, and aren’t required to state prior to the election who their appointee would be. The signs are that turnout will be very low so they won’t be able to claim a mandate. I haven’t decided whether to spoil my paper or just not vote, which would be the first time ever.

I would support elected apolitical PCCs – but how can this occur? Only party-supported candidates can afford to stand for election!

For the first time in my life, I wasn’t going to use my vote….. though now I am not sure, because the candidate was a serving police officer. There is no way would I vote for a political candidate. (a member of Liberal / Lib Dems for over 42 years)

I believe that PCCs are better than the current system because of the increased democratic accountability (which is only indirect at present through a small number of Councillors on Police Authorities and the Home Secretary) though not as good as a system of directly elected collectively responsible Police Boards.

I support the idea of making police forces more accountable to the people, but this is not the way to do it – as soon as direct election is intorduced, it becomes party political, and nothing more than a popularity contest for the government and opposition. I suspect few, if any, of the posts will go to ‘independants’.

Democratically speaking, a retrograde step and a surefire electoral farce. We should have boycotted it.

This is another way to undermine local government. The base of our party is our work to get control of the local council. If councils have no control and councilors no influence over things like policing, education home building what are they, other than a utility? Hardly anyone wants to be involved in local politics at the moment, this change is another nail in the coffin of our party.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 550 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 28th and 31st October.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    2 Comments

    • Very well put, the last commenter quoted by Stephen. Next year’s County elections should be a referendum on the version of localism apparently supported by the Tories (ie cut local councils out of meaningful decisions). It is all very well having a General Power of Competence, but if Councils have no money, and policy making becomes increasingly centralised within Cabinet, what good will that do? Please Lib Dems in power, show your active disapproval of this process. Don’t collude in a false and undemocratic “localism”.

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