This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Selection of Professor John Howson: Lib Dem transparency?

How is that the Liberal Democrats seem reluctant to explain how the selection of their candidate for the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner was conducted? I first asked question of the candidate himself but he referred me onto the Party machine (see below). So I duly located Liz Leffman who is the Chair of the South Central Liberal Democrats and asked her:

There are several reports all over the country including in your region that various Lib Dem candidates have been selected to run for the PCC elections. As Professor Howson will be standing in my area (Thames Valley), I would like to know how he was selected – what was the process? How many candidates were considered? Was there a postal vote among LD party members? Or did you do it by some sort of meeting (or more) of party members much like the Conservatives have done? Or was Professor Howson selected by a small team of your regional party? Given all the controversies about selection processes in the Conservative Party and the ongoing problems with some candidates finding out late in the day that they cannot stand due to previous convictions and moreover the fact that the Lib Dem policy was not to put up candidates originally – I am curious.

She replied (on 7/9/12):

Thank you very much for your interest in the Lib Dem selection process for the PCC elections. The position was advertised in Liberal Democrat News, and applications were invited from approved candidates living within the Thames Valley area. The party follows a rigorous approval, shortlisting and selection process, but we do not publish the number of applications we receive, or the number of people that are shortlisted.

I responded the same day:

I am sure your selection process was rigorous. However, your reply leaves several questions unanswered – which have been answered by the Conservative and Labour Parties. Both of those announced who was on their shortlists and described what the process was for all voters to know. Indeed the Labour Party openly and transparently published the postal voting figures for the two candidates (of which I was one – and I missed selection by 24 votes out of the 1204 cast, as it happens.) I am curious that you seem unwilling to reveal any more detail. Surely you can tell me if the wider membership of the LD party were involved in the selection or not – via meetings and/or postal votes?

The role of PCC is an extremely powerful position and I take the view that anyone standing for it should be scrutinised in a similar way and depth to the candidates for the London Mayoral election. For me this is all about transparency. I am genuinely surprised that, as a Liberal Democrat, you do not appear to want to be transparent in this matter. Perhaps you could explain more?

So here we are now two weeks later and still no response. And I thought the Liberal Democrat Party was a transparent party...

Was Professor Howson the only person to apply? (No shame in that - plenty of Labour candidates have come through in a similar way. The role of PCC is a querky one and I am not surprised that fewer people put themselves forward. I note that, I think, all the Tories candidates were chosen from a number of applicants, which is not surprising since they are the authors of this new policy.)

Did others apply and have to drop out because of some crime in their youth?

Was he made an offer he could not refuse... even?!

To repeat... why are the Lib Dems so reluctant to speak? (And what has happened around the rest of the country, I would be interested to hear...)

But then perhaps we will have to wait until they have an auto-tuned statement to release...?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous22/9/12 13:31

    I am not sure about Thames Valley as I am in a different region, but all the PCC selections in the Lib Dems were selected using the selection rules as agreed by conference. The ONLY difference was that most people are use to selecting PPC, these are NOT the rules used in the PCC selections nor should they be, the rules used were the same as that used for the PMEP. This is because of the large geographical area covering the TVP Area