A messy situation for Lib Dems over Devon and Cornwall police commissioner contest

It looks like the police commissioner contest in Devon and Cornwall could be about to get a bit messy for the Lib Dems, with the news that the Lib Dem leader of North Devon Council Brian Greenslade plans to run as an independent — even though the party plans to choose an official Lib Dem candidate.

Here’s how This is Cornwall reported it earlier this week:

Lib-Dem turns independent in battle for top police post

Councillor Brian Greenslade, once Devon County Council leader, will be an independent candidate at November’s election for a US-style police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall. Mr Greenslade, a former chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority, which will be abolished to make way for the commissioner, has fiercely opposed the new system, warning of policing being politicised. But he says he will stand for the £85,000-a-year post because “we are where we are”, and believes he can “make a difference”. … The Liberal Democrats, who have been uneasy with the Tory-driven policy, which proponents say will increase accountability, may yet stand a candidate in party colours after members in the region – who originally followed guidance from central office and opted not to get involved – decided they wanted to put someone forward.

The BBC picked up the story on Friday:

Brian Greenslade risks Lib Dem suspension with commissioner bid

The leader of North Devon Council risks being suspended from the Liberal Democrats if he stands as an independent in the election for a Police and Crime Commissioner. … Andrew Bridgwater, vice chair of the Lib Dems in Devon and Cornwall, said: “If Mr Greenslade stands against an official candidate he risks suspension and disciplinary action.” … Torbay’s Lib Dem MP Adrian Sanders thinks it will be impossible for the elected commissioner to avoid making political decisions. He said: “Every decision that this very powerful person will take will be a political decision. The first question that has to be asked of any police commissioner is are they going to be happy with the budget that’s available and if they are not, are they going to try to take on the government for more resources”. Mr Sanders also thinks that Mr Greenslade will struggle to get votes outside of North Devon. “His difficulty is going to be the Liberal Democrats in Torbay and Plymouth and in Cornwall who make up more than half the electorate, [who] will be delivering leaflets for a liberal democrat [sic] candidate,” he said.

* 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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9 Comments

  • Leaves the local parties in a difficult situation as IIRC the framework imposed by English COuncil/FE imposes a pre-requisite condition that there be no suitable indpendent candidate to endorse before moving to select a LIb Dem candidate.

  • David Rogers 5th Aug '12 - 11:56am

    As a long-standing friend of Brian, I’m urging not to do this…

  • David Rogers 5th Aug '12 - 11:57am

    *him

  • paul barker 5th Aug '12 - 1:43pm

    I cant see that councillor greenslades position makes any sense. After being such a prominent politician for so long, how can he possibly claim to be an independent now ?

  • David from Ealing 5th Aug '12 - 6:42pm

    Exactly.

  • a similar situation arises in Avon & Somerset where LibDem Cllr Lisa Brett, who failed to get the LibDem nomination, has declared that she will run as an ‘independent’…

  • Peter Hayes 6th Aug '12 - 3:35pm

    Given that most in the party didn’t want political police commissioners someone with experience who wants to run as an independent looks like a good idea. Is there some internal party politics going on here? I really do not know how to vote in Gloucestershire, Liberal if forced to select a candidate or spoil my vote to make a point without joining the could not care stay at home majority.

  • If he stands and there is an official Lib Dem candidate, then he will be thrown out of the party as he will have broken membership rules. Exactly what would happen to any party member if they stood for election when there was an official Lib Dem Candidate. If Devon & Cornwall do not select a candidate then he could stand as an Independent and keep his membership.
    As for the PC election – for the first time I understand why people boycott elections. If all Lib Dems pull out of the PCC elections would that invalidate them? How low a turnout is too low?

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