All Those Spoilt Papers Meant Something

A view from Cambridgeshire, from Liberal Democrat Lorna Dupre:

The word of the year – omnishambles – has already been overused to the point of becoming wearisome. But if ever there were a situation for which it was fitted, it was the new elections for Police & Crime Commissioners in England and Wales on Thursday. Many voters were furious about them – nearly 3,000 in Cambridgeshire alone taking the time to spoil their ballot papers, sometimes in great detail, to tell us so. It’s a pity that it’s an offence to reveal the comments people made, as they were biting, pithy, sometimes graphical, and worthy of a wider audience.
The proposal for elected Police & Crime Commissioners featured in the Conservative Party manifesto in the run-up to the 2010 General Election. At best, it was nothing more than a Tory tribute act to the Blairite cult of the powerful individual. At worst, it was a crude attempt to politicise policing and pour money from the hugely inflated salaries of those elected into the pockets of their political parties. There was to be no trial run, no pilot scheme, no opportunity for electors to say whether they wanted these highly-paid people given sole power over a major part of the life of their community.
As if all this were not bad enough, it was decided to hold the elections in November.

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