Sunday, 12 February 2012

The fact that Two Jags Prescott wants to be one proves that elected Police Commissioners are a bad idea.

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has thrown his hat into the ring in the race to be one of the government’s new elected Police and Crime Commissioners. Prescott (74) will stand in Humberside and plans to fund his campaign using part of a £40,000 settlement he received as a victim of phone hacking.

A cynic would say that after forty years in parliament and ten years at the heart of the New Labour project Lord Prescott knows all about crime. The good lord seems to see things differently; he’s on a sort of crusade in fact.

Speaking to the Hull Daily Mail he said that over the past nineteen months he had ‘fought to hold the Metropolitan Police to account for its unwillingness to investigate illegal phone hacking’ as a result of this experience he had come to ‘believe that there should be greater transparency and accountability of our police.’

John Prescott, a staunch defender of the last Labour Government’s record on law and order along with, of course, its love affair with CCTV cameras and ASBO’s; not to mention crushingly bureaucratic managerialism plans to spend ‘the next few months touring the region, listening to people’ and that the people ‘will help draft my manifesto.’ A noble aim but one that was all too often missing from the last government’s approach to policing with its bushels of unnecessary paperwork and endless targets.

John Prescott will run in Humberside against ex council leader Colin Inglis and former Chief Constable Keith Hunter. There will probably also be a man dressed as a giant cod in the race too since such competitions are often a magnate for eccentrics. Given the low esteem politicians are held in at the moment the big fish ticket might just be to one to back.

Other former Labour big beast keen to get in on the act include former Home Office minister Alun Michaels who will be running in South Wales against Falklands veteran Simon Weston. You probably don’t need to be psychic to predict the outcome of that particular race; a decorated was hero will always trump a political time server when it comes to garnering the popular vote.

The trouble is that even if none of the past their best politicians currently truffling around after another shot at the big time get elected as commissioners a nasty policy will still have won the day; thousands of Britons from waking up the morning after the election in a country that has a politicised police force for the first time in its history.

When it comes to the creation of elected Police and Crime Commissioners the British public are being sold the same mangy pup they were over elected mayors a few years ago. We’re being promised a new and innovative approach that will throw up the blinds and let a little sunlight into a stuffy national institution; what we’ll get is a half garbled version of something a policy wonk thinks works well in the US.

It won’t work here though; in fact it will be an expensive and divisive disaster. The fact that political has-beens like John Prescott want to take the job on because it lets them caper around in the spotlight for a little longer demonstrates that this is a role that has everything to do with ego and nothing to do with serving the needs of local people.

If he is really serious about local people helping to write his manifesto then John Prescott will rapidly find out that what the people want from the police isn’t for resources to be wasted on a four yearly popularity contest, they want to know that when they dial 999 there is someone on the other end of the line who is willing to help.

Snow joke

Last weekend it snowed over the UK, not perhaps the most surprising of evens in Northern Europe in February, but still it seemed to take us by surprise.

Trains stopped running, the roads snarled up in a matter of seconds and Heathrow descended into utter chaos faster than you can sing a chorus of Dean Martin’s wintry classic ‘Let it Snow.’

The way we seem to be paralysed by a few inches of snow is an annual abdication of national competence that is a constant source of shame. How can the country that thumbed its nose at Napoleon and Hitler be so utterly pathetic in that face of what is just a lot of prettily frozen water?

This week Jeremy Hunt, part time Culture Minister and full time Tory twit, said that more needs to be done to persuade potential tourists that the British weather isn’t as bad as they think. Quite so, but maybe he should work on we natives first.

Fat mouth

Weirdly wizened fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld gained himself pages of free publicity this week by describing singer Adele as ‘fat.’ Cue much offended gasping in the papers and on Twitter.

I don’t much want to add to the furore but it is just too tempting to point out two pretty salient points.

Compare their photographs and just who looks like they’re the happier and healthier person, buxom Adele or Karl the stick insect impersonator?

Then there is the small fact that people will still be listening to Adele’s glorious blue eyed soul long after Lagerfeld’s dreary collections of fright frocks have been gobbled up by moths.

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