Why the Lib Dems are standing for barely half the elected police commissioner posts

With nominations closed and the elections less than a month away, time for a quick recap on where the Lib Dems are at in the forthcoming police commissioner elections.

As ConHome has taken some pleasure in pointing out, the party is standing in 23 out of the 41 contests, little more than half. A little self-righteously, they argue: ‘This is a political party that is supposed to believe in radical change, in making the state more accountable to the citizen, and in boosting local democracy.’

In fact, it’s pretty remarkable that the party is standing in as many as half the police commissioner regions. A year ago, we reported: Liberal Democrats decide to pass up on fighting Police Commissioner elections (mostly):

The Liberal Democrat Federal Executive (FE) decided this week that the federal party will not be providing any financial backing to Liberal Democrats wishing to stand for election as Police Commissioners. The expectation is that instead the party will end up backing independent candidates, although it has been made clear that local areas can decide to field candidates if they wish to – albeit without any financial backing from the central party.

Gradually the party has swung more and more behind the idea of contesting these elections officially. Our own survey of party members indicated majority support for fielding official Lib Dem candidates. Nonetheless the conflicted view of the party towards the new posts (as can be seen by scrolling down our archive of posts on the topic) means it’s no surprise the party isn’t fielding a full slate. Next time round, though, I’d expect 100% of regions will be fielding a Lib Dem candidate.

The most complete candidate list available (that I know of) is provided by Policy Exchange’s PoliceElections.com website here. You can see a limited number of profiles of the party’s candidates on the Lib Dem website here.

* 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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19 Comments

  • So the Conservatives put up 41 candidates. So what? The Lib Dems have put up 23 candidates that can win.

    Just a little bit of spin for you. However on a serious point, the number of candidates is not the issue. The Lib Dems have put up a slate of mostly very experienced candidates. Labour also have a number of credible candidates. The same I don’t think can be said of Conservatives, I can find only two candidates that I would suggest are credible or suitable for the role.

  • David Rogers 22nd Oct '12 - 9:35am

    I am the Lib Dem candidate for Sussex: http://www.david4safersussex,com. Currently not listed on the Policy Exchange site, whereas two independents who are not standing are!

  • There has, of course, been an amount of pressure applied in places to stand, when the party’s instincts were against it. It will be remembered, Stephen, that our MPs supported the idea in Parliament, and it does not sit easily with many of them that the party has taken such a strong stance against. I believe there would have been less Lib Dem candidates had such pressure not been in existence. Other people may have more evidence on this than me.

  • Richard Dean 22nd Oct '12 - 9:47am

    Money talks! Or in the LibDems, its absence determines policy?

  • “Next time round, though, I’d expect 100% of regions will be fielding a Lib Dem candidate.”

    I think there is slightly more chance of hell freezing over. These positions should be long gone (ie abolished) before the prospect of any re-election materialises.

  • Harry Hayfield 22nd Oct '12 - 10:29am

    We, in Ceredigion, decided not submit a candidate for approval for Dyfed Powys for one reason alone. The amount of money to be lodged just to stand. As a result I will be spoling my ballot by voting “None of the Above” or “Reopen Nominations” and writing to the successful candidate and asking them to consider not taking up their post and asking Westminster to repeal the law, change it to ensure that anyone can stand (by asking for the signatures of 1% of the electorate and no money) and to have the election by STV.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 22nd Oct '12 - 10:32am

    I agree with Sir Ian Blair.

  • Old Codger Chris 22nd Oct '12 - 1:12pm

    It’s surprising that having trumpeted the policy of elected Commissioners, the Conservatives have virtually ensured a low turn-out by choosing November for the elections and keeping very quiet about the process. I know we’re all going to receive a leaflet but isn’t it too little, too late?

    I wonder how many unsuitable people will soon be in charge of police forces? And how can Commissioners claim a mandate when most citizens haven’t voted?

  • Richard Dean 22nd Oct '12 - 2:15pm

    What surprises me is the LibDem opposition to PCC’s. The job is all about representing the people from the areas served, and all about people’s rights, so I expected this party to be very keen on the whole idea.

  • Graham Martin-Royle 22nd Oct '12 - 8:25pm

    @David Rogers, your link doesn’t work. As a Sussex voter, can you tell me a bit more about yourself and your policies.

  • Matthew Huntbach 22nd Oct '12 - 9:55pm


    As ConHome has taken some pleasure in pointing out, the party is standing in 23 out of the 41 contests, little more than half. A little self-righteously, they argue: ‘This is a political party that is supposed to believe in radical change, in making the state more accountable to the citizen, and in boosting local democracy.’

    Yes, but putting all power into the hands of one person, while a radical change, is NOT the liberal way of doing things. We believe in political pluralism, therefore it is central to our position that power should be jointly held in a council of representatives, not all held by one person. A council of people where to be elected requires just a modest number of votes opens up power to citizens in a way that a single post which is elected by an electorate of hundreds of thousands does not. See the trickery here from ConsHome – their argument only works if you start from their assumptions. Well, we can all use that silly way of arguing. Suppose I was a devout believer in the idea that standing on your head will make the economy boom. Then I could argue “Look at those Tories, they claim they want to see the economy improve, but see what hypocrites they are – they are not standing in their heads, so that just shows, they aren’t really interested in economic recovery”.

  • Charles Beaumont 23rd Oct '12 - 10:37pm

    The important question is not whether we are running everywhere, but whether we can win ANYWHERE. There isn’t much credible data on this so I doubt anyone really knows, but there’s a risk that a combination of low national polling numbers and this issue being seen as ‘not very liberal’ means that we get panned. We don’t have any really big hitters out there for us. Why isn’t Paddick running somewhere?

  • Rod Hopkins 24th Oct '12 - 5:08pm

    Personally I do not believe this role should be politicised. All candidates should omit their political affiliation so that voters can vote on merit rather than on party label. We are in danger of electing a bunch of party hacks without any merit rather than electing people with the best qualifications for the job. Lets face it, we have enough of those clowns in Westminster without giving them and others of similar ilk a chance to earn big money for doing nothing of value for the electorate.

  • Got my official leaflet today.

    1. It was in the middle of a bundle of advertising leaflets, for sofas, double-glazing, a charity, and phone deals.
    So I suspect a lot of people have chucked it straight in the recycling, without knowing it was even there.

    2. It says you have two votes: a first and second preference.
    With no explanation of how your second vote counts, if you use it.

    And the government thinks AV is good enough for these elections….?

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Oct '12 - 12:37pm

    Rod Hopkins

    Personally I do not believe this role should be politicised

    Yes, and I think we might have got some sympathy had we made a big public stand saying this. However, because it’s a Conservative policy it seems our leaders don’t have the guts to stand up and say why it’s a bad thing. It seems to me quite obvious that specialist single role posts like this, if they are to be directly elected (which I don’t think they should be) should be contested in the grounds of who as a person is best to take them on, not on what party political label they have.

  • Richard Dean 25th Oct '12 - 2:41pm

    In what way is the present system not already politicised?

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