Thursday, September 20, 2012

Police Commissioner Elections

Police Commissioner Elections
According to the Electoral Commission's website Register of Regulated Donees, with the Lancashire Labour selection safely out of the way, County Councillor Grunshaw registered two donations to his selection campaign from the trade union “Unite”, each allegedly worth £2,500, for printing and posting of mail-shots for his selection campaign.

One of these donations dated back to April, but by delaying the submission to July, Labour members cast their votes unaware that Unite's backing extended to spending £5,000 on the mail-shots they got through the election campaign, and unaware that he had this funding advantage over his opponents.

One of Cllr Grunshaw's mail-shots landed him in trouble with the Labour party and led to him being forced to apologise to his Labour rivals for the post.

There are a few odd things about this though.

1) Doesn't the trade union “Unite” represent Police Staff?    Is it proper for a PCC candidate to accept such a significant benefit from a Union that represent staff in the organisation he seeks to lead?    Will there not be questions over the impact of his every policy on police staff and union paymasters?

2) The really strange thing though is that Councillor Grunshaw's declarations seem to be the only ones from any candidate in these elections related to their selection campaign.  Any such donations to party members, including those in kind, and that includes the cumulative value of a number of smaller donations, to a total value of over £1,500 should already have been reported to the Commission.

Are there really no other candidates who have had such benefits?    No other candidates receiving payments from a union?    Were there no other funded mail-shots in Labour's all-postal ballot selections, where mail-shots were the only way to get more than 200 words before the party members who have the votes?

Have the trade unions been trying to buy influence with Labour candidates?

Have Labour candidates failed to disclose this, keeping an inconvenient story from Labour members, and from the wider electorate?