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Police Commissioner: The Results

Police Commissioner ResultLabour politician, and former member of the Lancashire Police Authority, Clive Grunshaw was elected as the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire on 15th/16th November 2012.

The 'Supplementary Vote System was employed for this election, and because no-one achieved the required 50% of the vote on the first round (ANWAL, Afzal 18,396 = 10.9%;  ASHTON, Tim 58,428 = 34.8%; DROBNY, Rob 25,228 = 15%; and GRUNSHAW, Clive 66,017= 39.3%), the votes of all except the top two candidates were reallocated according to the 'second preferences' shown on the ballot papers of the losing candidates.

When these votes had been 're-distributed' amongst the top two candidates, the final result was GRUNSHAW, Clive =  79,790 votes (46.2%) and  ASHTON, Tim = 73,262 (42.42%)

So under the banner of "Cut crime not the police" Mr Grunshaw had the majority after the second ballot (after the second preference votes from the first count losers had been re-distributed), and he won the election

If we assume (which we probably cannot safely do, but nevertheless, we will for the sake of curiosity) it had been a proper 'first past the post' election without the ridiculous second preference system, Mr Grunshaw would have polled 66,017 votes and Mr Ashton would have polled 58,428 votes, and Mr Grunshaw would have won under this system.

So either way, the result would have been the same, and in the end no candidate achieved 50% of the vote, (even after re-distribution) - which, at least in this case, goes to show what a waste of money these toytown, seasonally adjusted, everyone shall have prizes, counting arrangements have been.

Mr Grunshaw made six pledges before the election:

  • Defend frontline policing – maintain a visible policing presence
  • Protect neighbourhood policing – particularly PCSOs
  • Ensure swift and effective response to reports of anti-social behaviour
  • Prioritise the fight against domestic violence and child sexual exploitation
  • Champion the rights of the victim
  • Target persistent and prolific offenders

And we wish him well in implementing them. He will probably do as well as any of the others and not as badly as some of them.

We were one of the voters who delivered a spoilt paper in protest at the vote that no one had asked for, and even more because we fundamentally oppose the 'transferable vote' system that was used.

The picture that emerged from the ballot must be a worry for local Lancashire politicians.

As we've said before, the Lib Dems are now toast as far as election results are concerned, and UKIP is cementing itself into place as the third party in the national scene.

So it was always likely that the votes from the losing smaller parties would be re-distributed in a way that saw UKIP votes going to their nearest ideological home with the Conservatives, and the Lib Dem votes going to Labour.

What we've seen in this election is hefty support for Labour in Lancashire, suggesting a change of balance at County Hall in next year's elections for the County Council.

And the present administration is not going to improve their chances of  re-election if they put their loser PCC candidate Dim Tim back in charge of Highways and Transport to push through the unpopular (and to our mind wrong headed) 20mph scheme on all roads throughout Lancashire.

The plans for 20mph in parts of St Annes have just been published and they're awful. The politicians in County Hall seem to be doing the best they can to alienate their natural voters, and clearly they won't be re-elected when unpopular schemes like this are added into the already bad situation.

It remains to be seen whether Mr Grunshaw (We're not going to refer to him here as 'Commissioner Grunshaw' because that name sounds too much like an old-fashioned cinema attendant to us) will have the Chief Constable devote much; some; or next to nothing in terms of his budget to the policing of this 20mph foolishness, and we will no doubt find how high up his list of priorities it might come for other resource allocations.

With the priorities Mr Grunshaw has already set out, we wonder if he might respond positively to requests to abandon policing of the 20mph limit, and to support the Police if they decide to say they don't have the resources to do the 20mph work and the priorities Mr Grunshaw has already set them in his list.

Nationally, the big story was the exceptionally low turnout. Newspapers had headlines like "A crushing defeat for the election itself", with just 14% of voters turning out to vote - making it easily the worst result in British history for a national poll.  It cost around £75,000,000, and according to some newspapers each vote cost taxpayers £14.

Only one voter in seven actually voted. It became a matter of a police farce rather than a matter for the police force.

We see the key national point to emerge as being a strong public dislike of the idea of putting so much control into so few hands.

When Fylde moved to the Cabinet System it drastically concentrated power, and reduced the number of decision-makers from 51 to just 7 for most of the decisions that are now taken in the Council's name. This change to a Police Commissioner follows the same unpopular logic, but in some ways, this is even worse because it is only one person.

Giving one person such authority and power is seen to be wrong - partly because it is easier for special interest and lobby groups to sway the opinion of a single person, partly because one person must, by definition, have less breadth and depth of experience that the 15 or 20 people who were the old Police Authority, and - speaking entirely impersonally - partly because it is numerically much more expensive and difficult to corrupt a committee of 15 or more than it might be a single person. 

So, the Great British Public's attitude to this result is just as they reacted to the idea of a Directly Elected Mayor. It's not something they want in principle, let alone in practice, so they're simply not going to vote for it.

Politicians need to take a lesson from the beating that the electorate have delivered to them on this occasion.

Of the 41 new Commissioners that were elected, Conservatives took 15 posts, Labour took 13, and Independents took 12 - although there were suggestions that some of the Independents were, in fact, Lib Dem supporters who stood as Independents rather than standing under their party banner.

UKIP blew its trumpet about being the third force in British politics, and that no doubt has implications for the next Government elections.

The Electoral Commission has launched an investigation after their Chairman Jenny Watson said this result was a concern for everyone who cares about democracy.

Locally, Mr Grunshaw himself told the Gazette the process was "A shambles"

Only 15% of the Lancashire electorate bothered to vote. Only 172,711 votes were cast in the whole of Lancashire (including the Unitaries of Blackburn and Blackpool) when the total votes available were over 1,000,000. Mr Grunshaw cited the weather and the time of year before laying the blame at the door of David Cameron.

So what of the local results? Were there any significant differences between the boroughs? Would it have produced a different result if we had voted for a more local Borough-wide Police and Crime Commissioner?

We thought we'd take a look at the figures for each Borough

If the vote had been separated into a 'first past the post' in each Borough, and the voting remained the same on first preference, then:

  • Mr Anwal would have won Pendle.
  • Mr Ashton would have won: Fylde; Ribble Valley; South Ribble and Wyre
  • Mr Grunshaw would have won: Blackburn; Blackpool; Burnley; Chorley; Hyndburn; Lancaster; Preston; Rossendale; and West Lancs.



Turnout was abysmal everywhere, but in Lancashire it was highest in Wyre followed by Chorley and Fylde, and lowest in Burnley and Ribble Valley.

Turnout by Borough


But the story about rejected papers is quite interesting and potentially significant.

This was the result with rejected papers on the first stage:

Rejected Ballot papers

The plain table below gives the raw numbers rather than percentages for those that want them,  but in the first stage the percentage of rejected votes varied between Fylde at 4.2% - and Blackpool at 1.9%.

But in the second round, rejected papers were much higher.   The percentages  varied between Pendle - which had a massive number of rejected votes at 1,506 (32.2%), and Burnley which only had 349 (14%).

We're not exactly sure, but it looks as though this phenomena in the second count was because some people marked their first and second choice for the same person, and if that was one of the candidates that was eliminated (i.e. a Lib Dem or UKIP), then that second preference vote couldn't be counted the second time around (because that candidate had been eliminated, so it counted as a spoilt paper) and it looks as though there were a lot of them in some places.

Rejected papers in the second stage

The actual figures for rejected votes in the first and second stages were as follows:

  Electorate Voted Reject 1 Reject 2
Blackburn  104,743  16,861 390 609
Blackpool 111,742 17,813 335 571
Burnley 66,075 8,004 178  349
Chorley 81,586 15,052  313 416
Fylde 61,564 10,845 460 565
Hyndburn 60,497 8,802 224 309
Lancaster 106,566 15,247 607 761
Pendle 67,480 11,172 335 1,506
Preston 100,084 15,432 419  679
Ribble Valley 46,476 5,981 225 393
Rossendale 52,876 7,091 196 304
S Ribble 85,624 12,491 324 474
W Lancs. 85,890 12,131 320 357
Wyre 85,420 15,788 317 800
TOTAL 1,116,623 172,710 4,643 8,093

Because of the curious arithmetic, when the rejected votes for first and second are added together, the overall results for rejected papers are mostly around 5% or 6% with a few closer to 9% and one at 16%.

The average of all rejected papers for Lancashire as a whole, over the two counts, is 12,736  which amounts to 7.4%.

For comparative purposes, in the last Lancashire County Council elections, the total votes cast were 339, 572. rather than  the 172,711 cast here.

Turnout was 38.2% rather than the 15.5% here.

And the rejected papers were 3,311 which was 0.98% of the votes cast, whereas in these Police Commissioner elections there were 12,736 rejected papers - a massive 7.4% of the votes cast.

These numbers are a bit like trying to plait spaghetti - you can whiz them around to show things in all sorts of lights, but the fact you can't get away from is that in this election, the rejected ballot papers were more than seven times those of the last County elections.

That might be because of the stupidly complex second vote arrangement used here, or it might be that people, like us, didn't want this election in the first place and they have made their views known with spoiled papers.

For the election anoraks among our readers, we have a copy of the full Borough by Borough results spreadsheet that was kindly supplied by a very efficient Blackburn electoral office. We can easily forward a copy of this to any reader who emails and asks for it.

So where does this result leave us?

Well, Mr Grunshaw takes up his office tomorrow, on 22 November. Until then the Police Authority still holds sway and the Police to account.

Then we enter a transition phase involving the former Police Authority and the new Police and Crime Commissioner (who will be backed up first by a 'Transition Board' - (follow this link for their 'Terms of Reference') - and ultimately by a 'Police and Crime Panel'

The aim here is that the new Police and Crime Panel will hold Mr Grunshaw to account,  whilst he is holding the Chief Constable to account.

We suspect both the transition board, and the eventual panel, could  share a lot of the faces from the old 'Lancashire Police Authority' - especially as Mr Grunshaw himself was a member of it. - So the main structural change will be an additional layer for Mr Grunshaw and however many staff he eventually decides he needs (If any, of course).

The former Police Authority has said it will be for Mr Grunshaw to decide how he wishes to run his office, hold the force to account and engage with the public to identify local priorities.

It added that "To help with this, the former police authority is developing a range of options for governance, accountability and decision making for the incoming PCC to consider. The ongoing scenario planning in relation to potential variances in the level of knowledge and understanding of the PCC will assist the transition. The strong, constructive relationship that has existed between the authority and constabulary will be a positive legacy".

It also noted that during early summer 2012, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary assessed how police authorities were preparing for this change. They examined transition plans and visited every authority.

They found that "Lancashire Police Authority has already put in place sound plans for managing the handover to PCCs. These include ensuring partners are involved in the transition and making the public aware of what the changes will mean to them (using innovative communication channels. The authority’s active participation and contribution to developing national PCC guidance means that the Lancashire transition board is well informed."

As we said, it looks as though nothing much will change on the administrative front.

Mr Grunshaw's own comment on his appointment was: "Clearly I am delighted with this result. I would like to thank all those who voted in this election. Also, thanks to all those who have worked and volunteered during this election.  This is a new era for policing in Lancashire. This is a real opportunity to focus on what matters to people in this County."

It almost sounds as if he hadn't been doing that for the last x years as a member of the Lancashire Police Authority.

Dated:  21 November 2012


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