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Labour hold PCC post, but only 1 in 10 turnout

Labour hold PCC post, but only 1 in 10 turnout

🕔22.Aug 2014

David Jamieson, the former MP and minister, has won the election to become the next Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands.

However, the real story is not that Labour held the post, but that just 10.4% of the electorate turned up at polling booths.

The election result came after first preference votes, without the need for the next stages of the supplementary voting system.

Jamieson, also a former Council cabinet member in Solihull, polled 102,561 votes; Conservative Les Jones recorded 54,091 and Keith Rowe, UKIP, registered 32,187 with Liberal Democrat Ayoub Khan on 12,950.

The election was called after the sudden death of Bob Jones, the region’s first PCC who was elected on a 12% turnout.

Controversially, the returning officer – in this case Birmingham City Council chief executive Mark Rogers – had to trigger the election following letters from two electors notifying him of the vacancy meaning the election was called even before Mr Jones’ funeral and a summer holiday season vote.

The election is likely to cost nearly £4 million, again triggering a debate about the cost of democracy as well as bringing the Conservative policy to introduce PCC’s into the spotlight as general election manifestos are drawn up.

Only four candidates were in the field in this by-election, whilst the 2012 poll also had three independents on the ballot paper. That will go some way to explain how Janieson was able to exceed the necessary 50% on the first count and why Labour, Conservatives and UKIP increased the proportion of their vote with the Lib Dems – in the shape of the same candidate Ayoub Khan – marginally down.

Even on a low turnout, the Lib Dems may be particularly concerned by the result in Solihull.

Labour figures have been quick to jump on the election “shambles” as well as congratulating their candidate.

Jack Dromey MP, Labour’s Shadow Policing Minister, said: “But this election was characterised by costly chaos and nine out of ten voters not turning out to vote. Theresa May’s fundamentally flawed legislation allowed UKIP to trigger, within days of Bob Jones’ death, a by-election in the middle of August covering the second biggest electorate outside of London. Key staff were on holiday, many polling stations were closed and many electors struggled to vote because they were on holiday.

“David Cameron and Theresa May must take responsibility for this botched process which has cost taxpayers’ at least £3.7m – money which could have been spent putting 158 new police officers on the beat.”

More details on the election and the new Commissioner can be found on the official WMPCC website.  

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