Ah well, another day, another election. This time though it was nothing as high a profile as a general election or a referendum. No, this was the election of a Police and Crime Commissioner for the Northumbria Police Area, caused by the resignation of the incumbent as she had been offered and accepted other employment.
In case you were unaware, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is an elected official in England and Wales, charged with securing efficient and effective policing of a police area. They are in effect a way of trying to hold the police accountable to the public they serve. The Commissioner replaced the now-abolished police authorities.
This election on July 18th came early. Vera Baird (Labour) was elected back in 2016 for a four year term of which under a year is left. This election therefore was to elect a PCC for a short period until the next election comes around in 2020.
This may, in part, explain the pitiful turnout. Of a total electorate of 1,041,562, only 155,990, or just under 15%, managed to haul their carcasses to the polling station.
The vote used a single transferable vote system, which meant that voters could choose a first and second preference. No candidate got more than 50% of the votes in the first count and so second preference votes were counted.
The votes for the two remaining candidates were:
|Candidate||Party||First count||Second count|
|Cara Kim McGuinness||Labour||58,355||8,977|
|Georgina Emma Rowley Hill||Independent||33,704||27,929|
Cara Kim McGuinness was duly elected with 67,332 votes, or just under 6.5% of the electorate.
Whilst this election followed a democratic process it was not democracy’s finest hour. How can someone with the backing of such a tiny minority of the electorate carry any mandate to do the job? The question is whether the public values the role of the PCC. The showing at this election strongly suggests not but we will have to see how the voters turn out in 2020.
In the meantime I wish Cara Kim McGuinness all the best in her new role.