There has been a lot of talk this week locally and nationally about the drivers behind Independents running in the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections in November.
One individual commenting on how political parties have largely failed to recruit ex cops as their candidates say that Independent ex cops have a “formidable task”.
That same commentator lists several reasons why ex cops are standing, but misses the obvious one. Mick Thwaites, Chris Wright, Ian Johnston and myself may well be standing for different areas but having spoken to 2 out of the 3, we are all singing from the same hymn sheet. And that hymn sheet is a wish to keep party politics away from our police force.
Other commentators have already started saying that my stance as an Independent is a false one, that to stand for election in such a role is political in itself. That by standing for election, I am now, per se, a politician.
I don’t see it like that. Let’s examine the differences between myself and other candidates from, say, Labour and the Conservatives.
My deposit of £5,000 is being put forward by myself. I have no funding. The party candidates have no such issue. In fact, their cheques for £5,000 are probably clearing as we speak.
Any endorsement I receive has been sought out, fought for and has ultimately been persuaded to step up to the plate. Not so for the political party candidates. Nick Herbert is already out there campaigning for Tory PCC Candidates. A hard act to follow, I can tell you.
Then there is the issue of mandates. The Shadow Home Secretary has already stated that Labour PCC’s must include Domestic Violence (DV) as a priority when they are elected. Let’s just analyse that. Not DV, because it is clearly a priority in my area, and I have a robust DV plan in my manifesto. No, let’s examine how a party official can dictate to a PCC locally what they will treat as a priority.
The reason they can do that is quite simply, political party candidates have to “sing for their supper”. The national party will ”pay your deposit, provide an agent, publicity, endorsement and a team. In return you sing our song. In return you fight our agenda”.
As the candidates believe in that agenda, they are quite happy.
The issue, for me, is where is the local agenda then?
I stand for the people of Dorset. Dorset solutions for Dorset people. There will be no national or regional party rules diverting me from the local needs of Dorset.
So, there are a few reasons why I continue to proudly call myself an Independent candidate. Yes, some will say I have political views – who hasn’t? We are all political to some degree are we not. Yes some will say that by asking an electorate for a vote, I have entered the political arena. Maybe that’s also true.
But at the end of the day, I maintain my individual independence. And that’s what counts.