Nick Clegg: I’m not voting in this Thursday’s PCC by-election

by Stephen Tall on October 28, 2014

Police helmetThere’s a by-election taking place this Thursday. The good news is the Lib Dems won’t lose our deposit.

The reason is the party’s not standing a candidate in the Police and Crime Commissioner by-election triggered by the resignation of former PCC Shaun Wright over the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal.

Here’s how Nick Clegg explained the decision to the BBC earlier this month:

“Having looked at the experiment of police and crime commissioners, I’ve come to the conclusion it just doesn’t work. Look what happened in South Yorkshire and across the whole of the north of England; it’s all re-hashed, re-tread Labour politicians and, guess what, the public don’t like it and they don’t bother to vote for it at all.”

Asked why the Liberal Democrats had chosen not to put forward a candidate in the PCC election, despite fielding one in 2012, he said he did no want to “prop it up”. He said: “It would be slightly odd for me to say on the one hand this experiment in police and crime commissioner has failed and on the other hand we’re going to compete in an experiment we think has failed.”

I don’t get that argument, I’m afraid. After all, Lib Dems contest first-past-the-post elections though we think it’s a failed system. And we appoint peers to the House of Lords though we think it’s a failed system.

Oh, and we also contested the West Midlands PCC by-election held three months’ ago.

It may well be the South Yorkshire regional Lib Dems have taken a look at their finances and decided there’s better ways to spend money than on trying to save a £5,000 deposit in a PCC by-election. If so, that’s a rational reason I can understand.

However, it does mean no-one eligible to vote in South Yorkshire has the chance of casting their vote for the Lib Dems this Thursday. That happens to include the leader of the Lib Dems, as Michael Crick noted this evening:

Nick Clegg thereby becomes, I believe, the first party leader since Alec Douglas-Home in 1964 not to vote at a public election (hat-tip: Alan Holloway).

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.