Suffolk: Looks a two-horse race for police commisioner post

THE selection of Tim Passmore as Conservative candidate for Suffolk’s first Police and Crime Commissioner has so far left a two-horse race for November’s election.

He will be up against Labour candidate Jane Basham – and any independent candidate who may put their name forward.

The LibDems are not putting up a candidate and I would not be surprised if no independent does emerge – the �5,000 deposit and requirement for 100 nominations is a significant obstacle.

Many people have already suggested to me that with Suffolk being a Conservative-dominated county, Mr Passmore is hot favourite to become the first PCC for the county.

I’m not so sure. Back in the mid 1990s Labour outvoted the Conservatives in both local and general elections in Suffolk. The county elected a Labour MEP in 1994.

David Cameron’s government is nowhere near as unpopular at John Major’s was in the mid-1990s but the Labour opposition will find it much easier to motivate its voters in November than the Tories do.

It is a fact of life that opposition parties always find it easier to get their voters out than ruling parties. The PCC election is not expected to have a very high turnout and with strong organisation Labour could do better than expected.

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I suspect most voters will not think about the policies of the candidates for more than a few seconds – they will vote purely and simply on the party label they are wearing.

There isn’t actually that wide a difference between them in policy terms – both seem very committed to local policing and although they may have slightly different priorities there is not a huge gulf between them.

The one difference there is, unsurprisingly, is that Ms Basham is much more critical of the government-imposed budget restraints than Mr Passmore.

So will the election take off over the next four months? I suspect both parties will send big names to Suffolk from London and there will be a major attempt to engage the voters.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if the turnout ends up as low as you get for the average district or borough council election!