In little over a month, voters in 41 police force areas across England and Wales will go to the polls in the first election of Police & Crime Commissioners. Here in Cambridgeshire, around 600,000 people will be eligible to vote – but it remains to be seen how many of them will do so, in what could be a remarkably low turnout election.
Nominations don’t close until October 19th, but the major parties (and some less major ones) have already announced candidates; at least two Independents have also come forward. However, mounting a serious campaign will be an expensive undertaking needing a lot of volunteer supporters. In Cambridgeshire, candidates are allowed to spend up to £108,754 on their election campaign. While this is a substantial sum, it still only amounts to about 18p per voter, so volunteer effort will be vital. Candidates must also put up a £5,000 deposit, refundable only if they get at least 5% of the vote.
With no PCC elections having been held before, it’s difficult to make predictions about the outcome, but the local elections are some sort of guide to the political landscape. Here is a look at the most recent local election results in the six local councils that cover the Cambridgeshire Constabulary area. Politically they are quite a diverse lot.
- South Cambridgeshire
- East Cambridgeshire
- Peterborough (unitary)
Before diving into the figures for each council, it’s worth mentioning a few caveats. Some councils had their most recent elections in 2011, others in 2012. Some councils elect a third of their councillors at each election, while others elect them all at once. Not all parties stand in all seats – but they tend to stand in the seats where they are more popular. Since the most recent local elections, Labour have risen a bit in the polls and the Conservatives have declined. So these numbers do need to be taken with a fair-sized pinch of salt.
Let’s start closest to home, with the results for Cambridge City Council from 2012. One third of the council was elected, but from all 14 wards in the city. This is the only council in the county with Labour in the lead; the Lib Dems are still a fairly comfortable second despite their recent troubles.
South Cambridgeshire also elected one-third of its councillors in 2012, though not from all of its wards. The Conservatives are comfortably in the lead here, with Labour and the Lib Dems contending for second place, and a relatively strong Independent showing.
Huntingdonshire also had the Conservatives firmly in the lead, though the most unusual feature here is the strong level of support for UKIP, who came second overall. Again these elections were for a third of the council in 2012.
Fenland voted most recently in 2011, when the whole council was elected. This is Conservative heartland territory:
East Cambridgeshire, also all-up in 2011, now has the highest level of Lib Dem support in the County, but with the Conservatives still in the lead:
Finally Peterborough, which has been a unitary authority since 1998, but is also voting for the Cambridgeshire Police & Crime Commissioner, had elections for a third of its councillors in 2012. It is a Con/Lab marginal, with a very low level of Lib Dem support.
That’s six politically very diverse councils – how can we arrive at an overall result for the county? Although it isn’t psephologically very rigorous, we can simply weight the results in each council by the size of their electorates:
This gives the following overall result:
As Peter Snow used to say, this is just a bit of fun – but it does give some indication of the political landscape that the Cambridgeshire PCC elections are taking place in. And if these numbers are to be believed, a comfortable Conservative victory seems the most likely outcome.
Thanks to Wikipedia for the map.