The thin blue farce

Your article on the “meet the people” tour of Barnstaple by Tory Devon and Cornwall police commissioner hopeful, ex-Royal Navy Commodore Hogg (Gazette, September 26), brought back the worst nightmares of the last time the British public were asked to have their democratic say on “very important matters”.

I refer to the farcical AV referendum, when we were offered a crumb of electoral reform and pushed it away. The ballot papers will be tumbling through onto our doormats any day now, but the extraordinary thing about this “election”, apart from the high stakes (�85,000 a year for the winner – nice!) and the intimidating deposit (�5,000 – ouch!) not to mention the zillions it’s going to cost the taxpayer for administration, mailshots and salaries, is that no one knows anything about it and fewer still care. More’s the pity.

The fewer who vote – and the turnout will be embarrassingly pathetic – the more likely the usual establishment suspects will retain their hold on power.

Worst of all, this high-profile position will then become polarised and politicised for the foreseeable future – the “flog ’em and hang ’em” faction of the Right together with the “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” fraternity of the Left will vie for credibility, while in between, the demoralised police service will have to come to terms with subservience to partisan politicos, some of whom seem to think they are plebs.

But possibly the greatest irony of all is that North Devon Council Liberal Democrat leader Brian Greenslade maintains that the reason he is standing as an independent is that he doesn’t think this position should be politicised.

As he faces expulsion from his party for standing against the official Lib Dem appointee, getting elected now becomes a bit of a priority for him.

But such blatant expedient self-delusion is almost trumped by the aforementioned Commodore’s classic statement that “the idea is to give power back to local people”.

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Who’d be a politician, eh?

Ricky Knight

Bishops Tawton

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