On Saturday I will be taking time out from my campaign to be North Wales’s first Police & Crime Commissioner to be on the Anti-Austerity march in London.
For the past two years the Tories and Lib Dems have been trying to persuade the British people that austerity is the only solution. But the simple fact is that cutting your way out of a recession won’t work. Cutting the public sector too far and too fast has hit the economy so hard the deficit is actually growing, rather than reducing. It didn’t work in the 1930s or the 1980s. Keynes theorised, and the New Deal in the United States demonstrated, that if you put people to work – even if they were only digging holes and filling them in again – you will get the economy back on track.
Public services are so much more useful than that! Whether it is reassuring the public through visible policing, teaching, caring or looking after our local environment, public servants improve our quality of life. Investing in schools, hospitals, housing and transport infrastructure isn’t wasting money: it is an investment which will be good for the long term. And by making these decisions now, we could really get the economy going again.
In the elections for Police & Crime Commissioners on 15 November, there are candidates who claim not be political. But decisions on whether to cut frontline policing and privatise core services or invest in improving relations between the police and communities are always going to be political. What is wrong is the idea that one person is elected to make these decisions instead of a consensus-based approach. If I am elected, that’s not what I’ll do. I’ll be out and about talking to local people and local police officers in the communities which suffer most from crime and making sure that we are all working together to solve problems.
Of course we need to find ways to cut costs – but I will be looking to see how we can make more use of civilian staff, not privatising services. There is a big difference: a private contractor’s first loyalty is to their shareholders – police civilian staff are public servants and see themselves as such. Using civilian staff makes sense – you employ someone with the specific skills required for a particular role instead of the full range of experience and training that are required by a police officer of a particular rank – which may include less experience of the particular specialism.
I believe that by working with the workforce and with other relevant agencies we can together provide a better service to the public. We can identify those procedures where different agencies or teams create work for each other and thereby remove unnecessary costs. I’m not saying it will be easy – the scale of the cuts means that the service to the public is bound to get worse. But we can work together to minimise the impact and that’s what I want to do.
By marching on Saturday, we will show what we think of this Government and its policies. On 15thNovember we can show them again through the ballot box. But we need to ensure that people are aware of this election and what is at stake. If you are willing to help deliver leaflets or phone voters, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org